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E3 07: Guitar Hero III - first look

When we saw Battle Mode unveiled - to Living Colour's lengthy "Cult of Personality" - the attacks came so rapidly, and so furiously, that we had to see it all twice in order to take in exactly what was happening. It looks daunting as all hell - we have enough trouble just focusing on the notes at higher difficulty levels, let alone any added worries. But there's good news for those who don't want to constantly be thrown for a loop: if you see your opponent about to hit you with Battle Power, you can block it Small comfort for those playing online, but then, Neversoft could still work out some way to tip you off.

Battles aside, Guitar Hero III also updates the visuals of the PS2-rooted franchise, making Johnny Napalm and the rest of the regulars impressively detailed while at the same time rendering them in a new art style. More impressively, the action onstage actually syncs up with the music a lot more smoothly - the singer lip-synchs with the lyrics, your onscreen avatar plays when you play, and the show has been spiced up with things like beefed-up pyrotechnics and motion-captured pole dancers.

The impressive demo presentation was capped off when Neversoft president Joel Jewett took the stage. Walking out in front of a crowd of journalists, he smashed an Xbox 360 guitar against the floor twice, yanked out its USB cord and announced that the official guitars shipping with Guitar Hero III will be cordless. So apart from the fact that you'll have to buy more plastic guitars, it's looking like the series is in good hands so far - although we won't know for sure until we actually try it. At any rate, Guitar Hero III looks promising; andit should make things especially interesting when it goes up against its stunning multi-instrument rival, Rock Band, this fall.

After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.