I can't believe we're this far into the review and I haven't even mentioned the game's itsy bitsy storyline. Instead of giving us weirdly disjointed interviews with the band (a la Guitar Hero: Aerosmith), this Metallica edition wisely uses animated cinemas to convey a lame story about (you guessed it) a small band who ends up making it big alongside Metallica. It's a really stupid plot that we've seen too many times in the Guitar Hero franchise. Still, the animated scenes are clever and they may actually get you to chuckle a few times before all is said and done.
Aside from the game's barely-there storyline, Guitar Hero: Metallica has an extremely basic single-player mode that doesn't try to be more than it is. Like past Guitar Hero games, Metallica features a long list of songs that you have to earn stars on. If you earn enough stars you will be rewarded with new songs. Some of the time you will take the stage as Metallica themselves, while other times you will be the opening act (featuring characters from Guitar Hero: World Tour). Together you (and your band) attempt to earn all 245 stars, ultimately proving that you are the true Guitar Hero. Or something like that.
The truth is, this game is exactly like Guitar Hero: World Tour. The graphics are the same. The gameplay is the same. The extra modes are the same. The whole thing, it's basically Guitar Hero: World Tour with Metallica music and artwork. Instead of just saying "You Rock," the game uses the artwork from St. Anger. The whole game is like that, with venues specifically designed after album covers, characters that are near and dear to Metallica and a sense of style that is so strong that it could give you a rock and roll headache. It's disappointing that the game isn't anything more than just Guitar Hero: World Tour plus Metallica, especially since there are so many aspects that need to be improved.
Because this is based on World Tour, that means that you can sing, drum, play bass and jam out on guitar. It means that you will be able to make your own music (and download songs from other people). It means that you will be able to import downloadable content, including the entirety of Metallica's newest album. Unfortunately it also means that you will have to put up with pointless single-player modes, lame power-up driven multiplayer challenges and a little too many gimmicks for my blood. Those who already own World Tour will know what to expect, especially since Activision spent no time at all trying to add functionality to this product.
The good news is that there's enough to keep even the heaviest head banger busy for at least a few days. When he's not rocking out to the four dozen songs, he can watch plenty of Metallica videos and get a real history lesson about this game. He can go online and play against other Metallica fans. He can go after a number of obscure (and ridiculously time consuming) achievement points. There's plenty for the die-hard Metallica fan to enjoy. Unfortunately everybody else will be left out in the rain with this release.
Perhaps that's not a bad thing. Even though I'm not the kind of game that would be clamoring for a Metallica-themed Guitar Hero game, I know plenty of people who want this more than anything. Even though I'm not a big fan of the foursome, I can appreciate that Activision tried a little harder when it came to designing this second band-specific Guitar Hero. It's still not perfect, but they are definitely on the right track. This release comes down to how much you like the band. If you're one of those people who owns all of the albums and likes to sing along in the car, then sixty dollars isn't too much to ask. I personally wouldn't pay that much for this game, but I'm also not the target audience. Guitar Hero: Metallica is good representation of a hugely popular heavy metal band, nothing more and nothing less.
Guitar Hero: Metallica is certainly better than its Aerosmith counterpart, but it still misses the point of the Guitar Hero franchise. There is a nice selection of songs here, even if it does feel a bit disjointed. If all you're looking for is a bunch of rockin' Metallica songs, then you're going to get your money's worth with this newest Guitar Hero game!
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