We were always slightly alarmed whenever a Metallica track cropped up in Rock Band or Guitar Hero III. They were so difficult it was like a big sign saying, 'You shall not pass!' being thrust in our faces.
Surprisingly, Guitar Hero Metallica isn't like that. Neversoft has paid close attention to the difficulty curve, allowing non-gaming metallers to progress, but still offering thrills for hardcore shredders later on.
All of the 49 tracks are available in Freeplay mode right from the start. Unlocking songs in Career mode is also much easier than previous Guitar Hero games. Instead of having to complete every set before another becomes available, you just have to earn a set number of stars. This is good because it means you'll never get stuck behind one teeth-grindingly difficult number.
What separates this from other band tie-ins is that it feels like Metallica has been involved in every aspect of the game.
The motion capture is great, and every performance looks different and feels authentic. You'll see far fewer canned animations this time.
Neversoft seems to have also paid more attention to the staging of each song. Various camera filters, effects and some well-timed pyrotechnics combine to make it feel like you're down in the mosh pit at a real Metallica gig.
One of the coolest features is the ability to replay songs with Metallica-based facts running along the bottom of the screen. This is particularly useful when it comes to the support acts, explaining how bands like Alice in Chains and Lynyrd Skynyrd fit into the Metallica story. Most of the concert venues in the game are licensed, plus there's a ton of concert footage and interview footage to unlock, too.
As far as the band experience goes, it's very similar to Guitar Hero World Tour. The biggest change is when it comes to pounding the drums, because this is a lot more challenging than we're used to.
Lars Ulrich loves the bass pedal, and you have to use it until your foot nearly falls off. Super-masochists will love the new Expert Plus mode, requiring two bass pedals and usually lasting no longer than ten seconds before Game Over.
The one thing that lets this package down is that you can't use DLC from Guitar Hero World Tour (with the exception of Metallica's Ride the Lightning). Its overall appeal is also a little more limited than previous Guitar Heroes.
You don't have to be a metal fan to enjoy this, but it obviously helps. In any case, we can see more than a few people being converted to the ways of darkness by this rather good compilation.
The best band tie-in to date
- A good selection of tracks
- Well-balanced difficulty curve
- Feels like the band has been involved
- Expert Plus mode is absolutely insane
- Can't use DLC from World Tour