Guitar Hero III: Xbox 360 review

Mark Pickavance went to school with those behind Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. It doesn't make him any better at Guitar Hero III, though...

There are some aspects of the human experience that should be private, like birth and death. The third in the list should be playing Guitar Hero, which to any sane person resembles the saddest emulation of air-guitar histrionics that it’s possible to witness. Yet so many play this game seemingly ignoring the fact that this is basically the original electronic ‘Simon says’ with extra pouting.The tease for Guitar Hero III is that on the Xbox 360 it comes with a wireless controller, allowing you much more range for physical expression, without the likelihood of the console flying in your direction.

This controller is both the best and worst aspect of the game. On the good side is the wireless aspect, and the now five buttons on the fret, allowing for difficultly levels that would challenge mutant hands with excess fingers. However, the ‘Guitar’ in my pack seemed to suffer with a common problem – that occasionally the fret keys didn’t register. A short bout of forum research determined that this was a rife amongst the game owners, some of whom discovered that inserting card between the neck and body helped resolve the issue.

In gameplay terms there are a few new twists, none of which really twanged my strings. They’ve messed with the ‘Star Power’ metering, making it look like something you’d start a dragster race with. And they’ve introduced ‘Boss Battle’ mode which plays like a combination of battling-banjos and a medieval siege. It’s about stamina, attrition and concentration. Actually it’s based on the same concept as the old Tetris head-to-head, where hitting a run allows you to stuff up your opponent.

But what people really buy this game for is the music, and deluding themselves they’re playing it. Which is where I’d suggest this release isn’t as strong as previous versions. It’s roughly a 50/50 break, between those songs you’ll enjoy simulating, and those you rather forget, but are forced to play through to unlock other features.

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But it isn’t this that actually makes me think this isn’t great value for money, even with some downloadable content being released. Is it worth £20 more than the PC version, which admittedly comes with a USB controller? If I’m honest, probably not.

But then without the freedom of the wireless guitar you don’t get to slide across the bathroom lino, or kick over the sub woofer while tripping over the dog.

Can’t wait for Guitar Hero IV: Back in Rehab…


3 out of 5