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Guitar Hero: Metallica

11:4606/06/2009Posted by Simeon Paskell2 Comments

Metallica are the very definition of ‘Monsters of Rock’; they’ve sold over 51 million records in the USA alone over a career spanning nearly three decades, can fill stadiums at the drop of a hat and sport a discography bulging at the seams with classic metal anthems. The 2004 documentary ‘Some Kind of Monster’ cemented their reputation as the archetypal metal act, as well as further proving just how on-point ‘This Is Spinal Tap’ was in its parodying of rock ‘n’ roll excess. That they were ideal candidates to follow Aerosmith with their own Guitar Hero spin-off is a no-brainer, but is Guitar Hero: Metallica purely for the fans, or does it mark another worthy addition to the Guitar Hero canon?

metallica1Guitar Hero is so well established as a brand that in many respects the necessity in reviewing this is minimal, with a quick scan over the track-listing probably being sufficient research to inform your purchase. This is, after all, a spin-off rather than a true sequel, so expectations of revolutionary changes to the format are kept at a minimum. And unsurprisingly, these low expectations are met; this is, by and large, Guitar Hero with Metallica, and not much beyond that.

While not breaking the mould in form or function, Guitar Hero: Metallica certainly isn’t short on enthusiasm, with the game’s opening in particular doing an excellent job of putting you firmly in the shoes of the band. Strolling in slow-motion onto the stage with James Hetfield and co. (who are all excellently realised) you launch into ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ then segue into the epic ‘Unforgiven’. Regardless of your instrument of choice, this opening is a real highlight, reminding you of why you love Guitar Hero in the first place. Some may tell you that you’re better off learning to play a real instrument rather than hammering away on undersized-plastic replicas, but when you’ve just been transported on stage with one of the biggest bands in the world, the grumblings of these naysayers are effortlessly drowned out by the monstrous riffing.

metallica2It’s a shame, then, that this momentum isn’t maintained, as the bombastic opening quickly lurches into a fairly stock Guitar Hero experience. While the set list is generally strong (featuring other rock giants such as Foo Fighters, System of a Down and Motörhead), it’s hard to get excited by the opening volley of Lynyrd Skynyrd et al. While it’s not long before you’re back on stage with them, it’s a shame that the Metallica boys aren’t given more room to flex their heavy-duty riffing before the support acts are ushered in.

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