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Guitar Hero: Metallica

Guitar Hero: Metallica

Guitar Hero: Metallica

Guitar Hero: Metallica is a music rhythm game developed by Neversoft, published by Activision and distributed by RedOctane. The game was released in North America on the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox 360 on March 29, 2009 and on PlayStation 2 on April 14, 2009, with an Australian and European release in May 2009. Guitar Hero: Metallica is the second game of the Guitar Hero series to focus on the career and songs of one band following Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.

The game is based on Guitar Hero World Tour, with support for lead and bass guitar, drums, and vocals. The game has many of the same features from World Tour, including single-player and band Career modes, online competitive modes, and the ability to create and share songs through "GHTunes". In addition to the normal difficulty levels presented in Guitar Hero World Tour, Guitar Hero: Metallica provides an "Expert+" difficulty for drums that allows the use of a second bass drum pedal to match the drumming style of Metallica's Lars Ulrich. The game features 28 master recordings spanning Metallica's career and an additional 21 songs selected by members of Metallica. The band performed extensive motion capture for the game for their in-game avatars and performances. The game includes several extras including behind-the-scenes videos of the motion capture sessions, tour and concert videos of the band, and Pop-Up Video-like facts for many of the songs on the game disc.

Guitar Hero: Metallica received positive reviews, with critics stating it to be a strong tribute to the band and Neversoft's best work on the Guitar Hero series to date. The difficulty throughout the game was praised, found to be more enjoyable to players of all skill levels than the more-difficult Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Reviewers noted the lack of additional downloadable content, save for the pre-existing Death Magnetic songs, the cartoonish storyline for the Career mode, and the overall value of the game as some of the negatives to the experience.

Guitar Hero: Metallica Gameplay

Guitar Hero: Metallica, like other games in the Guitar Hero series, allows players to simulate the playing of rock music using special instrument controllers. The game is based on the band approach presented in Guitar Hero World Tour, and features parts of lead and bass guitar, drums, and vocals. To successfully complete songs and score, players must use the instruments to play notes that scroll on-screen in time with the music. For lead and bass guitar players, this is done by holding down colored fret buttons on the guitar neck while striking a strum bar; for the drum players, this requires the player to strike the appropriate drum pad or kick with the bass drum pedal; for vocals, the player must attempt to match the pitch of the notes through a microphone. Players earn scoring multipliers for playing several consecutive notes or phrases correctly, and by correctly completing marked phrases, players can earn Star Power which can be released for a higher scoring multiplier. If players miss too many notes, they will eventually fail the song and will have to retry it.

Lead developer Alan Flores has stated that the difficulty of the game is much harder than previous games and is designed to challenge the hard-core player. To meet the "ferocity" of Metallica's songs, the game features, in addition to the same five difficulty levels in World Tour, an "Expert+" mode for drummers that allows them to add a second bass drum pedal, though results of this mode is not tracked through online modes. Additional drum pedals and a splitter, to allow two pedals to be used, were made available upon the game's release and as part of pre-ordering bonuses. While the game allows two guitar players to play lead and bass guitar, it does not give the players the option to play lead and rhythm guitar, which does not allow for notable "Hetfield/Hammett riff-trading" on certain songs. Lead designer Alan Flores explained that the decision not to track the lead and rhythm (in addition to the single player guitar, bass, drums, and vocals) "was simply a workload issue."

Similar to Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, Metallica presents songs from Metallica's history roughly in chronological order, but it focuses more on the group today than the band's history. The songs in the game are presented in a linear series of sets as with older Guitar Hero games such as Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, instead of the gig progression used in World Tour. However, instead of being required to finish a certain number of songs in each set, the player has to earn a total number of stars (earned from their performance on the individual songs) in a given set to progress to next one. The game's story is based on a band that wants to follow in Metallica's footsteps, and the group accepting them as leading acts for them on a tour; as such, they are better able to order the songs in difficulty comparable to other Guitar Hero games, as Metallica's earlier works frustrate the player enough to "throw the controller against the wall and stop playing". Flores described the difficulty for most of the game to be comparable to Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and World Tour after the complaints of the difficulty level in Guitar Hero III, but further noted that the most difficult songs in the games will be very challenging. Real-life venues are used for the game, including The Stone nightclub in San Francisco, the Hammersmith Odeon in London, Tushino Airfield in Moscow, and The Forum in Los Angeles, and one final venue representing the pinnacle of Metallica's success. The game was completed before Metallica's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and thus does not include reference to this event. The game's interface remain similar to World Tour with some Metallica-based artwork added to it. Two changes have been made from World Tour; individual performance and Star Power meters are now located next to each track on screen instead of grouped together to make it easier to keep track of one's own performance, and when the band's performance is failing, the edges of the screen glow red to indicate this.

The music creation mode from World Tour is available, giving the player the option of using tones from Hetfields' ESP Truckster guitar and Slayer's Tom Araya's ESP Bass in addition to Metallica drum sounds. The "GHTunes" services, which allows players to share songs created in the music creation mode, is cross-compatible with both World Tour and Metallica. In the new "Drum Over" mode for this game, players can select any song, and play drums without any fixed drum track or without any failure, allowing them to create their own drum line using the song's existing drum kit sounds.

The Battle mode of the game, based on that from Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, has been slightly altered to add Metallica influences; for example, a power-up named "Fade to Black" completely blackens the note tracks for the opposing player, "Trapped Under Ice", which freezes the whammy bar, and an electrical attack called "Ride the Lightning" (based on the "Amp Overload" attack from Guitar Hero III) is added.

Reception
Guitar Hero: Metallica has received favorable reviews from game critics, and has been described as the best Guitar Hero game in the series since Neversoft took over development of the franchise. Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica noted that with numerous other Guitar Hero titles, Guitar Hero: Metallica could have been "just another way to cash-in on the hype cheaply", but the overall quality of the game shows that "the design team adores Metallica". Simon Parkin of EuroGamer stated that Guitar Hero: Metallica "sets the benchmark" for future band-specific games from either Guitar Hero or Rock Band.

Reviews have primarily praised the game for a "stellar" set list that " like the quintessential 'Best Of' track list for the band", and consider "the best hit to miss ratio of any music game to date". The difficulty of the songs was also warmly received, with reviews noting that Metallica's songs can " really well to a plastic guitar", and that "the songs here are a treat on any skill level". However, the game still provides a difficult challenge for experienced players, and the introduction of the Expert+ difficulty for drums and the Drum Over mode were seen as good additions. Reviews commented favorable on the new career progression, noting that one can complete the career mode without having to play "Metallica’s earliest, shreddiest, most brutal stuff", and allows the player to "skip right past the early stuff and quickly get to the big tracks".

The overall presentation of the game was highly praised, noting that "a lot of care was put into making sure this was a die-hard fan's game" and praising the devotion to the motion capture work done by the band. The added features such as Metallifacts and additional behind-the-scenes videos were attributed to "ensuring that this isn't just a slapped-together take on World Tour with Metallica songs".

The game was criticized for the lack of downloadable content beyond the existing Death Magnetic album, and its price was also called into question, costing the same as World Tour but with fewer songs. The career mode's "cartoon storyline" describing the player's Metallica's-wannabe band was seen as being out of place in the game and was considered as the game's "biggest weakness". Chris Roper of IGN noted that the PlayStation 2 version of the game suffers from several graphical problems, including poor video compression, the inability to read or zoom in on handwritten tour and lyric sheets, and some stuttering on the display on the note highway, and considers it the weakest release across all the game's platforms. Roper also cites video compression and problems with viewing the extras in the Wii version.

As of March 2010, the game has sold 1.5 million copies worldwide, with approximately 1 million copies from North American sales.

Pushead has designed the faceplate that comes with the solo guitar edition of the game.


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