Guitar Hero: Metallica (XBox 360)
Considering the fact that Metallica have always been notoriously picky about how their music is presented - and no, I'm not referring to the Napster debacle, but rather that, for example, they've never allowed their albums to be remastered, nor have they plumped for a quick-earning Greatest Hits collection - it's a little surprising that the band has now lent their name to the Guitar Hero franchise. Not that that's a complaint, because Guitar Hero: Metallica is another very fine game indeed.
Based around the game engine that Guitar Hero has used since its beginnings on Xbox 360, this version of the game provides a tremendous setlist, spanning from the band's very first album "Kill 'Em All", to their equally loved and hated "Death Magnetic" (most of the hatred was reserved for the mastering of the album, which distorted in some places due to excessive compression). It's a dream come true for fans of the band, even if the hardcores generally aren't as fussed on "Metallica" (commonly known as "The Black Album") and "Load", the two main 1990s offerings from the band.
The presentation and graphics of the game remain excellent, with each of the current band members (deceased bassist Cliff Burton and his replacement Jason Newsted do not feature in the game) instantly recognisable in both their look and movement, the latter possible due to recognition technology used to portray the band's performances as accurately as possible.
Aside from online play, which allows for duels and co-operative play, most players will find themselves locked in Career Mode. To begin, players find themselves auditioning to be Metallica's backing band on a tour, a storyline which is apparently based on Metallica's own experiences in their early days. Career Mode, of course, is a lot of fun, even if the aforementioned storyline is a little cartoon-like.
The game may also be entitled "Guitar Hero", but there is the opportunity to play bass, drums, and even be lead vocalist. Playing a co-op game with a guitarist and bassist can be a lot of fun, and those who like to hammer the drums in the manner of "Through The Fire and Flames" (Youtube search for some incredible game-playing!), there's even an Expert+ mode which enables the player to use a double kick drum in the manner of Lars Ulrich. For drummers, there's also a fantastic "Drum Over" mode, in which you can play the drums at your own rhythm along with the rest of the band, as they play in their usual manner. Who said that video games can't spawn a little creativity?
With several "Guitar Hero" games now available for Xbox 360, you have to wonder how long the franchise can continue with virtually the same game engine. But, I suppose, while there are eager air-guitar players out there wishing to rock to their favourite tracks, there is no end in sight.
Bring on Guitar Hero: Van Halen!