Guitar Hero Metallica

Still, even if stripped of the Metallica tag, this game could pretty much be seen as Guitar Hero World Tour 2 – the differences made here are at least as big as those made between GH2 and the PS3’s Legends of Rock. Many of the bugbears found with World Tour have been addressed – notably that when playing as a band, it was difficult to work out who wasn’t pulling their weight or which direction musical disaster was looming from. As such, individual danger meters now live in the top left-hand side of the screen, and a fear-inducing red glow is now far more intent on flagging up your personal lack of musical prowess.

Progression through the Career mode, meanwhile, is now based on how much star power you garner through playing unlocked songs rather than simply demanding that you beat them – as such you’re encouraged to perfect your art, rather than just barrel through them willy-nilly. The biggest change, however, is that with the cunning use of a splitter cable you’ll be able to attach a second bass pedal to the World Tour drumkit – allowing you to drum like Metallica’s self-proclaimed greatest fan and legendary skin-thumper Lars Ulrich.

This means that you’ll be able to keep time with songs featuring Metallica’s trademark insane drum-tracks. Honestly, on some of them the colored beats and pedal-push bars on the note track virtually turn into a wall of colors and noise. Some of the songs are being recast note for note, so it’s no wonder Guitar Hero Metallica is opening up an entirely new difficulty mode (Expert+) to cope with it. Consider yourself warned. Metallica’s output (especially their earlier work) is frenetic to say the least – and the average song lasts around eight or nine minutes with intros and outros that can only be described as epic. Guitar Hero Metallica is going to be a tiring, if joyous affair for your foursome of metalheads.

Beyond the familiar fanged punk skulls nodding sagely as the game loads or the St. Anger fist thrusting its way on-screen after a song well-played, meanwhile, are brilliantly captured visuals of the band in full flow. The motion capture was taken from one long day of recording Metallica as a whole in a warehouse in San Francisco, then two individual visits by Ulrich and Hetfield to Neversoft’s vast abode in Porn Valley LA. In total, for the singer/lead guitarist and drummer alone, over 5,470,000 frames of animation have been collated for the project – totaling over 701 minutes of animation.

The results are startling – the poses digi-Hetfield pulls are unmistakably that of Metallica’s Teutonic giant, Lars sticks his tongue out in the way that only Ulrich can and Robert Trujillo’s dreads fly around with physic-enhanced perfection. When shown the motion-capture process at the Neversoft ranch, even the wireframe of Hetfield looks perfect – add in the fast fingers, the vast smiles and the occasional gurn into the camera and you’ve got an almighty Metallica experience.

Simon was once a freelance games journalist with bylines at publications including GamesRadar. He is now a content designer at DWP Digital - aka the Department for Work and Pensions.