It’s getting tough to review Guitar Hero and Rock Band games, simply because they’re all pretty identical once you get beyond the tracklists. Sure, you might find a tweak here or there, but in truth, this series has been practically perfect from its inception. Guitar Hero: Metallica is more of the same goodness.
Guitarists, drummers, singers, and bassists can all play together – no rhythm guitar parts, sadly - and thankfully, the star power and performance meters are somewhere you can see them now. But the big addition to gameplay is for the guys banging on the skins: a second kick drum pedal. The double bass work is pretty optional – it gets its own special difficulty (Expert +), but you have to do it because it feels, for lack of a more clinical term, totally metal. Seriously, if you can get through Slayer’s “War Ensemble” at the highest difficulty setting, you will feel like and absolute musical super hero. And you will BE one because that song is an asshole.
You can also shut the built-in drum track off entirely and just play whatever drum part you want. Nice touch. Be warned though that you’ll need the Guitar Hero III drums. The Rock Band 2 kit doesn’t seem to support the double-bass pedal, but you can spend another $25 to buy the Rock Band-branded double bass pedal, which we're told works just fine.
The other obvious change this time around is obviously the focus on title band, Metallica. You might have heard of them. You’ve got 28 Metallica songs on order (31 on PS2 and Wii, who can’t download the entire new Metallica album, Death Magnetic), as well as 21 more from other bands Metallica likes. They’ve got good taste, too: Kyuss, Motorhead, Social Distortion, Suicidal Tendencies, Bob Seger and even the one and only Lynyrd Skynyrd and more. You can check out the full setlist here.
Obviously, this is best suited for the folks out there who rock hard enough to already know “Am I Evil?” was a Diamond Head cover, so if you’re not willing to bang your head a little, you should probably leave this one on the shelf. You’re not rocking enough for it. Oddly enough, 360 and PS3 owners will also notice that the only downloaded songs the game recognizes are the ones on Death Magnetic. That’s… totally weird. Our best guess is that it’s to keep you from doing something like playing Journey’s “Anyway You Want It” with the Metallica members as your onscreen avatars. Which would actually have been really fun.
The Metallica integration goes deeper than the music itself – the band members all appear in the game, although career mode finds you playing not as anyone IN Metallica, but as the band opening for them while on tour. You can use some Metallica samples in the music creation mode. Many venues important to the band’s career have been included. There’s also a ton of extra Metallica memorabilia: photos, obscure videos and trivia. The visual look is darker and more subdued as well, with black and gray tones often replacing the series’ usual Garish color palette. Which, like the rest of Guitar Hero: Metallica, is simply the most metal way to do it.
Apr 3, 2009