Ow – my poor hands. I have to say, it’s been a while since my fingers have been so fatigued and my wrists so sore. Metallica managed to do quite a number on my ego as well, in record time at that. Fans of the band of those wanting a little more challenge in their digital wailing, Neversoft has something for you; for those who can’t stand metal, the exit is over to your left.
Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, the first attempt at creating a band-centric Guitar Hero, was a decent effort, but ultimately a novelty and of interest more to those who lacked downloadable content at the time – PlayStation 2 and Wii owners – than anything else. If you weren’t a fan of the band or their history, then you were left with a handful of tracks to play with after having nothing but the base Guitar Hero 3: Legends of Rock track list to keep you busy.
Cut to a year later and refocus the series on a band that Guitar Hero was made for, and now you have something. The guitar-heavy Metallica has a phenomenal back catalog that was ripe for the picking – and Neversoft did a great job picking. For those, like myself, that could never really get back in sync with the band after the Black album, rest easy and know that their better days are well represented. Fans of the band’s later works aren’t left out as songs, art, and references from the post Black era are sprinkled about to enjoy. There was no point in even trying to deny the band’s fruitful, if now aged, past, and the game is all the better for the developers going in the opposite direction and diving headfirst into Kill ‘Em All, Master of Puppets, and …And Justice for All. At 28 tracks, even passing fans of Metallica will find something recognizable – and awesome – to rock.
Instead of following the band’s history, as was done in Aerosmith, Metallica starts off strong with the band walking out to an arena of screaming fans and playing “For Whom the Bell Tolls” followed by “The Unforgiven.” Nice. After rocking out the encore, you’re then introduced to the story and character creation screen. Yeah, starting off as Metallica was just a tease. Instead of riding the wave of fame, you are a fan of the band that has been inspired to form your own band and try to be their opening act. The story, filled with mumbling thrashers, was what I originally found to be unoriginal and forgettable. It turns out, though, that the career mode is based off of a band that followed Metallica around Europe and eventually opened for them. Huh…well, I’ll be. Regardless, the goofy rookies fit in with the art style of the series but not so much with Metallica. Although as a means to have Lemmy make an appearance and to branch out with other songs, the approach does the job.
To get to the likes of “Tuesday’s Gone” and “Turn the Page,” I’ll put up with quite a bit, including their very inclusion. As much as I enjoy a good Lynyrd Skynyrd jam, it’s jarring to go from destroying a crowd with wailing guitars to the mellow sounds of Ronnie Van Zant. But the track count and a design tweak offer enough so that anything not particularly enthralling can be bypassed for something more preferred, because advancement is now based on stars: instead of completing so many songs out of a set, you simply need to meet the – generous – star requirements. Further smoothing things along is the ability to back out and lower the game’s difficulty, so you don’t find yourself trapped on what you thought was an acceptable difficulty until Motörhead proves otherwise. While you might have to put up with a little inconsistency, the payoff is well worth it.
Aside from the new tracks, there have also been some mechanic tweaks and additions. Some bootleg fan footage and behind-the-scenes bits show Metallica in various venues and in motion capture outfits, which aren’t bad but without an option to resize the viewing window things can get pixilated on larger TVs. Additional information, from lyrics to random facts, for each song do a good job in enriching the experience. Instead of just being guitar-destroying, the difficulty goes even further with the inclusion of Expert+ mode for drummers. The new drummer difficulty allows for the addition of a second bass drum pedal, with the optional splitter and second pedal, for the full Lars effect. No such craziness for guitars, though, with no lead and rhythm guitar for multiplayer, so while not the exact Metallica experience, it’s closer than I was expecting. There are also unlockable characters, including the eternal Lemmy, that somehow pop up during the story.
Those interested in the composition side of the series will find a few additions. The music creator gets some new sounds, and there is also a new Drum Over mode, which allows you to make up your mix of drum sounds over a bare track. Those wanting to share their tracks via the GHTunes service will be able to pass them off to World Tour players as well.
The biggest caveat to whether or not this is a worthwhile purchase is, of course, if you like Metallica. A further sticking point is the price, which at $59.99 is the same price as the content richer World Tour while also cheaper than if the songs were purchased separately. If you aren’t into the band, then it doesn’t matter how much money you’re saving from purchasing separately because that cuts out 28 of the 49 tracks. The track list is so strong, however, that even passing fans of the band and genre will find plenty to like.
The complete track list is available below, so give it a look to see if your interest is peaked. Fans of the band and genre will find more than a few tracks that get their fingers tapping, and the ability to unlock Lemmy is awesome. By its very design it is of limited appeal, however, and fans wanting more variety will be hard pressed to pass up the fuller World Tour for Metallica. If you’re looking for a challenge that involves thrashing a crowd with Mastodon or to get the chance to pretend like you can play “One,” then Guitar Hero: Metallica presents a fantastic option.
All Nightmare Long
Fade To Black
Fight Fire With Fire
For Whom The Bell Tolls
Hit The Lights
Master of Puppets
Mercyful Fate (Medley)
No Leaf Clover
Nothing Else Matters
Sad But True
Seek And Destroy
The Memory Remains
The Shortest Straw
The Thing That Should Not Be
Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
Wherever I May Roam
Alice In Chains - No Excuses
Bob Seger - Turn The Page
Corrosion of Conformity - Albatross
Diamond Head - Am I Evil?
Foo Fighters - Stacked Actors
Judas Priest - Hell Bent For Leather
Kyuss - Demon Cleaner
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Tuesdays Gone
Machine Head - Beautiful Mourning
Mastodon - Blood And Thunder
Mercyful Fate - Evil
Michael Schenker Group - Armed and Ready
Motorhead - Ace of Spades
Queen - Stone Cold Crazy
Samhain - Mother of Mercy
Slayer - War Ensemble
Social Distortion - Mommy’s Little Monster
Suicidal Tendencies - War Inside My Head
System of a Down - Toxicity
The Sword - Black River
Thin Lizzy - The Boys Are Back in Town