Other than Day 100, this week is filled with random titles in a top all-time list that I have. That means not only are older titles listed (such as Super Mario Bros. 3) but newer ones that won me over, will be featured. Actually, just this one title exceeds the year 1997, but it’s a game I hold dear to me still. Why? One word: Metallica! I spoke a bit on GH: Metallica on my Top 25 of This Decade list (it was my 10th selection) so I’ll try not to overstay the reviews welcome.
For a huge Metallica fan like myself, GH: Metallica is a dream come true in nearly every sense. This is what I always envisioned this genre to culminate to — the magnum opus of rhythm gaming.
Before I get into the audio and gameplay portions, I’d like to address the visual presentation. All four members of Metallica motion captured each move you see in the game, each stance, each strut, thus making the presentation the best in the genre. Watching Lars drumming away while staying in tune to the in game beats, witnessing James and Robert’s exchange during Enter Sandman, watching the camera pan by Kirk during one of his blazing solos, everything about the look screams style, class and care. Even the lip syncing is performed with a commendable success. Some would argue the character models themselves to be too cartoon like, but if they wanted a 1:1 replica, they could have just played music videos in the background. Even still, I’m usually too busy following the charts than the on screen antics to admire anything else this game can throw at me in a visual sense. But the memory remains even still.
While the story is a complete throw away with no plausibility whatsoever, the gameplay and soundtrack, are far, far from. Based on the Guitar Hero: World Tour engine, you have four options to choose from: vocals, guitar, bass and drums. On its own, each method of play is nothing short of an exhilarating ride, but as a band, as with any rhythm based game, provides quite a rush and a lot of good times. The song selection provided by the friends and inspirations of Metallica are passable, but the Metallica tracks, naturally, are the stars of the game. I always find myself gravitating towards the Vocals whenever I boot up GH: Metallica for some reason. Don’t get me wrong — drums are a beast and guitar/bass are exciting on their own rights, but something frantic awakens within me when I’m able to sing along to these songs and be graded for it.
While Rock Band and Guitar Hero release Country song packs and other nonsense that makes the “Rock” in Rock Band and “Guitar” in Guitar Hero seem like feeble afterthoughts, Metallica is the in-your-face metal. With monster riffs, wrist breaking drum beats and a vocal performance that ain’t easy to match, this is the rhythm game to end all rhythm games. You have Metallica staples such as Enter Sandman, Orion, Battery and Master of Puppets, to go along with lesser appreciated gems such as Disposable Heroes, No Leaf Clover and The Thing That Should Not Be. You definitely won’t be choking on a bad seed when it comes to the tracks you encounter on Metallica’s side. 1600 points will net you a full album download of Metallica’s latest album, Death Magnetic, which is well worth the investment, and extends the replay value some. Some of these songs, even on Medium, will punish a novice player such as myself, but jamming and grinding along to a set-list of this magnitude is like a euphoric experience. This is how I envisioned Rock Band and Guitar Hero to be — smash-mouth, no excuses, head banging excitement, the likes that no other genre could ever dream of reproducing, and GH: Metallica succeeds on that level.
There’s a couple of things that do break a string or two on this blazing guitar of hysteria. As mentioned earlier, the supporting cast of this blockbuster consists of many acts and tracks you’ll visit once and probably never again, giving them a feeling of being nothing more than disposable heroes. The story/career mode never comes into play as something you’ll remember or care about. Within that mode, the difficulty ramps up significantly after the second tier. This is Metallica though. Their songs are by no means compositions by Weird Al; these are meant to push your hard and challenge your timing big time. Finally, in what’s the most disappointing aspect of GH: Metallica, there looks to be no future DLC support. Big time mistake. For those that are not die hard fans of Metallica, the replay value may take a hit, since not only can you not import GH songs, but there are no extra songs to accompany this production aside from the Death Magnetic DLC. St. Anger, Seek & Destroy (live @ Woodstock), The Four Horseman and the Turn the Page cover would have been top notch additions via DLC. It’s not too late to get that ball rolling, Neversoft!
If there ever was a band that deserved their own rhythm game, Metallica’s that band. With Guitar Hero: Metallica, you have the best of both worlds — solid gameplay, solo or multiplayer, and some of the best songs you could ever play along to. If you love the rhythm genre in general, buy Guitar Hero: Metallica. If you like a challenge with your rhythm gaming, buy Guitar Hero: Metallica. If you’re one of those crybabies that still call Metallica sell outs, well you’re absolutely right. They definitely are sell outs….they’re selling out Madison Square Garden, Orfeo Superdomo, Mandalay Bay, Air Canada Centre….*fade to black*