Two huge super-powers collide for a powerful gaming experience of metal riffdom. Metallica fans, well, you probably already own this one, and all other games looking to expand their Guitar Hero library... look to the massively trashed up Guitar Hero expansion disc, Guitar Hero: Metallica. Raise the devil horns, this is Guitar Hero: Metallica.
Dim the lights and crank up your stereo, Guitar Hero: Metallica is pumping on all twelve cylinders of pure metal rock. Featuring over 45 tracks from the metal gods, and a few other legendary performers, you will have more rock then you can handle in Activision’s Guitar Hero offshoot. This is the second time, Activision has featured “one act” on a special disc, and without dismissing the talent of Joe Perry and Aerosmith, Metallica seems to fit the musical formula of Guitar Hero like a glove... maybe even a little more than the classic rock balladeers, Aerosmith.
A Little Metalica-ology
Just incase you are not up on your Metallica, I'll throw a little Metallica-ology your way. **If you know your Metallica, feel free to skip to the next section** Metallica consists of James Hetfield (guitar/vocals), Kirk Hammet (guitar), Lars Ulrich (drums), and the latest addition to the band, the hired gun, Roberto Trujillo. Metallica started in 1981 with Lars and Hetfield branding their own version of thrash metal. After the departure of original guitarist Dave Mustaine (now the frontman in Megadeth), Metallica released their first album "Kill Em' All". From Kill Em' All the band found their foundation within the metal scene releasing two other albums with continued success. Mainstream attention didn't come their way until 1998 when the band received major exposure from their single "One", off of "...And Justice For All" From their most of you probably know Metallica, or have heard their songs... "Enter Sandman" probably being their biggest hit. The band has bad their fair share of up-and-down moments without loosing much momentum, or the stride of writing killer music. Even with all the Napster publicity, dealing with the death of their original bass player, and countless addiction issues, Metallica has come out on top and this is further cemented with Activision release of Guitar Hero. That is the short version, hit up your local wiki for more info. Now that I have ranted about the band enough, let's get back to the game.
Tune Up to Ride the Lightning
In typical Guitar Hero fashion, Guitar Hero: Metallica (GHM) is set up, and runs in like the normal Guitar Hero formula. You pick a rocker, customize them to your liking, and go out to the digital arena's and rock. Unlike Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, the Metallica version doesn’t go back to the starting point of the band, and highlight their career achievement moments. Guitar Hero: Metallica’s storyline follows a bunch of rocks that start a band after being influenced by the band themselves (something I know a lot about first hand). This puts the cover songs into perspective when you’re not jamming out with Metallica, you're taking your garage band on a road to stardom... It is the stuff dreams are made of.
For one, I would have preferred the Aerosmith treatment to the storyline in GHM... and me sure a lot of fans would agree. Metallica has had a powerful and interesting career that spans a number of decades, and it would have been cool to see the progression, not only in style and career milestones, but in musical direction and popularity. Tell me it would be cool to be playing “Whiplash” in a small basement clubs to becoming the main-stream metal heads and rocking out to thousands on “Wherever I May Roam” and "Enter Sandman". Even though I know more about Metallica then Aerosmith, I’m sure gamers who don’t know too much about that bands history would have appreciated learning how the trash-metal band from 1981, turned into the massive rock powerhouses they have become. Like every “great” band, they had to start somewhere.
No Remorse, Rock till' You Drop
This takes Guitar Hero: Metallica out of the gig-based progression and leaves the song selection wide open. It’s super easy to unlock all the tracks in the game, even without completing a big chuck of songs in a row. From one perspective this is a blessing. You won’t have any of those impossible songs that stop you from jamming out on new tracks, or be stuck in a spontaneous guitar battle with some random guitar slinger. However, on the other side, it this makes the game less challenging, and in turn makes the feeling of progressing through the stages a little less rewarding. I preferred the gig-based progression, and the end of a set encore songs... heck, I even missed those frustrating in-prompt to guitar battles, if you can believe it. Even with this new approach to Guitar Hero, you can’t argue with the amount of songs that become readily available after an hour of playing. You only have to complete a small section of the game before everything is unlocked. That means, Metallica die-hards can skip all the additional songs and keep the Metallica-flow rocking. Anyway you slice it; you wouldn’t end up at the same spot regardless.
Double Kick-it - Lars Would Be Proud
New to Guitar Hero: Metallica is the “Expert+” mode that lets players hook up a second bass drum pedal to rock out with the double bass like Metallica’s Lars Ulrich. Playing Metallica without it is almost impossible in “real-life”, however you can get away with it in the game, and it is better served hitting the double kick. Having a full band together to virtual rock out Metallica is the way to go; it’s the only way to truly appreciate the musical talents that have gone into crafting these songs. Even though it’s not exactly as impressive as playing them with a real band, you can learn a lot about heavy metal music and how each member accents each others parts. Metallica is one of those rare metal bands where the music has soul beyond the riffing shred of the guitar player.
Brush up Your Metallicafacts!
Metallica hit the Activision’s studio to do motion-capture sessions for the game, which can be seen in the behind-the-scene extras added to the disc. These extras, and having Metallica themselves rock out makes the game that much more authentic and interesting. I was cool to see how well the boys did rocking out looking like underwater divers pretending to play their own songs. That’s a tribute to the professionalism and the stage presence Metallica commands. You can also watch the song being played with facts rolling along the bottom regarding the song. This prompts some interesting trivia and insight about some of the music Metallica has created. One problem here is that the facts usually end up repeating when I'm sure Neversoft could have pulled some more notes out on these songs. Even with the small criticism, it's a feature that most gamers will probably check out a few times during their rocking sessions.
Metallica isn't the only act featured in Metallica's Guitar Hero outing. A few other artists have joined Metallica's metal crusade. First off you will have to welcome Motorhead staring Lemmy Kilmister on lead vocals and bass guitar. 80s metal rockers Corrosion of Conformity (C.O.C.) hitting the bill with their swamp-metal tones. King Diamond of Mercyful Fate bringing in the high notes. Thin Lizzy rocks up in their #1 hit “The Boys Are Back in Town” along with other acts like Diamond Head, MSG (Michael Schenker Group), Machine Head, The Sword, Mastodon and Judas Priest. That’s not it; expect to hear the slow metal of Kyuss, Alice in Chains, Samhain, Social Distortion and the Foo Fighters. If you’re still with me Bob Seger comes in, System of the Down and the punk rockers Suicidal Tendencies (a band Roberto Trujillo was formally in), and ending our list is Skynyrd with their southern rock epic “Tuesday’s Gone”. Really besides having Megadeth (ouch!) added to the mix, this is a pretty substantial list of side-acts, and you should find a few songs to get into.
All together Guitar Hero: Metallica gives up 49 Rocking Tunes, 28 of which belong to the rock monsters Metallica. This makes Guitar Hero: Metallica the perfect add-on for Guitar Hero fans looking to turn up their stereo's and shred. Jumping into the fire, past the blues-rock of Aerosmith, Metallica gives a well-rounded, equally challenging experience for all the instruments in the band. I couldn’t think of another artist who would have done the Guitar Hero franchise more justice. This is a must have for all Metallica, and Guitar Hero fans. Give me fuel, give me fire, and give me Guitar Hero: Metallica.
Gameplay:9, Graphics:8, Sound:10, Innovation:8, Mojo:10 Final: 9.0 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 04.24.09