You might not have known it, but every moment you’ve spent playing Guitar Hero, or indeed Rock Band, has led up to one moment. From those first uncertain chords of I Love Rock and Roll in the original Guitar Hero all the way through to smashing several shades of excrement out of your World Tour drum kit during Freak on a Leash – everything was just padding the way for four digitized men to stride purposefully toward a stage drowned in golden fireworks.
As The Good, the Bad and the Ugly theme Ecstasy of Gold plays, the camera sweeps over slow-motion recreations of James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Robert Trujillo and Kirk Hammett. As it ends the lights go down and the opening solemn knells of For Whom the Bell Tolls are heard, accompanied by those familiar Guitar Hero note tracks appearing on-screen. Finally, the legendary Metallica begin to make the noise that has sold them over a hundred million albums, and Guitar Hero comes of age with a game guaranteed to put metal up your ass.
Containing at least twenty five songs by Metallica to be sung or played with the mic, guitar, bass and drums provided by Guitar Hero World Tour and a further twenty by artists the band has found inspiration form or has directly inspired (including both Queen and Foo Fighters) it would be easy to dismiss Guitar Hero as a mere set of tracks to add to the already downloadable and Guitar Hero World Tour-friendly Death Magnetic album. This, however, would be folly – the game goes far, far beyond the template set by Guitar Hero Aerosmith by turning into an encyclopedia of Metallica.
The game drips with authenticity and the guiding hands of Hetfield and Ulrich can be felt everywhere – from the fascinating Metallifacts that pop up during playbacks to the almost terrifying level of detail that has gone into ensuring that the right diamond plate guitar is played on the right authentically created stage.
Neversoft have even asked James Hetfield to provide them with examples of his handwriting, using it to design the game’s menu font and ensuring that everything is doused in his musky scent. “There’s no more room on the disc! We just ran out!” explains the game’s Senior Producer Jody Coglianese, a petite rocker with a penchant for casually flicked devil horns, when pressed on the sheer amount of Metallica paraphernalia and archive material piped into its DVD lining.