Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock E3 2007 Hands-On

Can't stop the rock: We get an early look at the next Guitar Hero game from Activision.

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Perhaps one of the best indications of the ever-increasing popularity of Activision's Guitar Hero series is the list of artists who are contributing songs to the upcoming third game in the franchise, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Among the currently revealed artists, you'll find songs from the Rolling Stones, the Beastie Boys, and Living Colour--all of whom contributed actual masters of their songs for inclusion in the game. In the case of Living Colour, the band actually went back into the studio to record an updated version of their late 80s hit, "Cult of Personality," complete with new, finger-shredding solos from LC axe-man Vernon Reid. Just before the start of E3 2007, we had a chance to get our hands on the new rock with a look at the next Guitar Hero game for Xbox 360.

Share the rock in co-operative play, or destroy your opponent in battle mode.

Beyond the new soundtrack--and there are more tunes to announce as we get closer to the game's release later this year--perhaps the most striking thing about Guitar Hero III is its upgraded look. Everything from the menu system, to the characters, and even the in-game gauges have a new sheen to them that might take some getting used to for long-time GH fans. For one thing, the guitarists themselves--while still retaining the cartoon proportions that gave them their charm in the earlier games--now have better muscle definition and slightly more realistic skin textures. There's a new axe-slinger on board, too--the pixie-ish J-pop star Midori. And it's not just the guitarists--the Neversoft developers went ahead and motion-captured the mouths of the singers in the game, so that you have actual lip-synching to the words of the various songs on the soundtrack. Heck, even the bearded bass player has a new axe to pluck. The star-power meter is now measured out in tubes like those you'd use in the back of a Marshall stack, and there will be new arenas and clubs for you to rock out in, including a seedy club complete with pole dancers and a desert rock festival that looks like it's patterned after Coachella, though mercifully free from the smell of hippies.

The E3 demo of the game will feature a host of songs including the driving mid-tempo rocker "Lay Down" by Canada's Priestess; "Rock and Roll All Nite" by Kiss; Pearl Jam's "Evenflow"; Tenacious D's "The Metal"; "Knights of Cydonia" by Muse; "Barracuda" by Heart; Smashing Pumpkins' "Cherub Rock"; Weezer's "My Name is Jonas"; "Slow Ride" by Foghat; "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys; Guns N' Roses "Welcome to the Jungle" and, last but certainly not least, "Paint it Black" by the Rolling Stones. This last track in particular is an inspired choice, thanks to the ever-intertwining guitar parts of Keith Richards and Brian Jones.

Cooperative play seems to be a major focus for Guitar Hero III, because not only will you be able to play co-op online, but the game will also feature a cooperative career mode, where you and a buddy follow the path that documents the rise and fall of a rock band. To encourage playing cooperatively, some songs--such as the Beastie's "Sabotage"--can only be unlocked by first playing them in co-op mode.

The big new mode in Guitar Hero III is a battle mode that, producers told us, is reminiscent of the classic showdown between Steve Vai and Ralph Macchio in the seminal 1980s blues flick, Crossroads. Here, you'll square off against another guitarist in your bid to prove your dominance in a particular song. As the song progresses, you'll be able to "attack" your opponent by tossing difficulty modifiers his way. These modifiers include everything from doubling the amount of notes he has to play, to rattling the other player's screen, overloading his amp, requiring him to play lefty, changing his difficulty level, or even breaking his string (which he will have to quickly fix by rapidly pressing one of the fret buttons). Up to three of these temporary modifiers can be piled on top of one another at a time, and if you choose to use them at the right moment, they can cause havoc for your opponent. If you double an attack (such as dropping two double-note modifiers in a row), you won't quadruple the notes your foe has to play; instead the amount of time the double-note modifier will be that much longer. You can also steal an opponent's attack at certain times and then use it on him.

Of course, all of this bombastic, battling chaos doesn't really do much to serve the song. As you toss attacks at your opponent, the song often becomes a obscured by the sounds of zinged attacks and a cavalcade of missed notes. Your goal, after all, is to make your opponent sound as bad as possible. Playing battle mode, you quickly learn to save your attack power-ups at strategic moments--a double note or lefty flip power-up, for example, is ideal to lay on your foe just as the song is leading into the big guitar solo. Battling it out with an opponent, you spend most of the song with one eye on the screen and one eye on your opponent; the second he flips his neck to toss an attack your way, you'll want to reciprocate the favor or else risk the match-up.

The new stage environments run the gamut from seedy to epic.

When you're not taking on a friend in multiplayer battle mode, you'll be encountering some of rock's most legendary guitarists in the game's career mode. After completing a number of songs at a certain venue, you'll be challenged by a guitarist in an axe-wrangling duel that plays just like the multiplayer battle mode. The first guitarist you'll face is GN'R and Velvet Revolver's Slash in an original composition by the guitarist that features plenty of back-and-forth wailing, both with and without a backing band. As with the multiplayer battles, you'll be able to toss power-up attacks at Slash or defend yourself against his six-string assaults. Should you manage to defeat the top-hatted one, you'll get to join him in an encore of "Welcome to the Jungle." In addition to Slash, there will be two other boss battles of similar stature in the game.

Wannabe guitarists whose rocking has been constrained by wired guitar controllers take heed: Guitar Hero III will signal the coming of wireless controllers for the game. No word yet on the price for the new instruments, but we expect they'll be comparable to the current guitars. Combine that with new online multiplayer and the ability to download new songs in the future (though which songs, and how much they'll cost, are details to be revealed later) and Guitar Hero III seems to be shaping up quite nicely. The game is due for release later this year and we'll be bringing you much more in the coming months.

Discussion

257 comments
DeathKnight03
DeathKnight03

yah its gonna be compatible cant wait for some Dragonforce though =D

rante_lezama
rante_lezama

Does anybody knows if guitar hero 3 will be compatible with the xplorer used in GH2?? o haven't read anything that confirms that..¡?

BvilleSprinter1
BvilleSprinter1

i think the second guitarists should be Eddie Van Halen

molesniper
molesniper

i think they haven't added any AC/DC because they can't find anyone to sing like Bon Scott or Brian Johnson do.

diedante
diedante

Cant wait for this, and Rock Band to be fair, all these pretend guitars i'm accumulating!! Does anyone know if GH2 downloaded content will work on GH3 ???

haloBoy04
haloBoy04

Uhhh how about some freakin Zeppelin or Beatles??

made_by_semen
made_by_semen

I'm still keeping my fingers crossed for some Pantera!!!

SanAnFan
SanAnFan

Tenacious D! NO WAY! The metal will live on! haha.. i love jack black.

circa
circa

I think it will be nice with co-op play. You have a guitar, a friend have a guitar. You'll go over to his place or the other way around and play hardcore whole night.

naruto-10001
naruto-10001

is this game gonna have muse nights of cydonia like i heard

Toggy25
Toggy25

Aerosmith would be a good band to add too

DoctorFu
DoctorFu

I'm there baby. Get pumped!

Jab7604
Jab7604

Welcome to the jungle will be my new fav. cant wait to see the rest of the tracks

fresh2deafbill
fresh2deafbill

"r u ready 2 rock?" "I'm ready rock. r u ready 2 rock?"

matt030488
matt030488

how about adding some guitar straps i dont know why and how they hold the guitar just thought it would be a great feature

French023
French023

cannot wait till this comes out... but i still am reluctant to buy it because i have already spend 200$ on the ps2 version....

dQuarters
dQuarters

Not a big fan of NEEDING two guitars to unlock certain songs. Sounds like a shcam to me (Like 500 MP for 3 songs). But the song list is looking decent so far. Maybe I'll get it after I'm done with RB (Long Live Harmonix!).

infirmaryblues
infirmaryblues

Actually McFlu...you are wrong. d3funkt wasn't referring to the previous games not being associated with harmonix, but GH3 and Rock Band. Obviously the first two were Harmonix games.

McFlu
McFlu

you know d3funkt, you say harmonix has nothin to do with the guitar hero franchise, then why when i turn on gh2 it shows the logo for harmonix, hmm, must be some kind of mistake im sure they didnt mean to put it in there cuz they definitely had nothin to do with that games, your so smart

EarthThatWas
EarthThatWas

I just skimmed this article, so if they mentioned this already forgive me. But I heard that the guitar from GH2 will be compatible with 3. If that's the case, I'll probably pick this one up. I'll just wait unitl people start trading their copies.

Deaner04
Deaner04

I am not wasting another 90 bucks on this game....for a coop online mode and new songs....why don't they just let us buy the new songs on xbox live for guitar hero II...thats what i want

pete_merlin
pete_merlin

slash is my all time favourite Gman!

Dwaaskie
Dwaaskie

I'll get rock band and guitar hero III both they both are looking very nice

ChrisEyebrows
ChrisEyebrows

Im getting both, Im a bit of a gamer whore and want both. Rock Bands guitar looks sweet!! Extra Buttons near the base of the neck, that rocks!! Guitar Hero will be for individual glory and Rock band for me and my mates to rock on.

Drt888
Drt888

So hellscovern you dont like co-op on guitar hero so you rather buy a game which is co-op and nothing else? where on earth is the logic there?

hellscovern
hellscovern

I don't like the idea that some songs can only be unlocked in co-op that's cack you shouldn't be forced into co-op if you want to use it fine.. looks like i'll be going the way of Rock band instead unless they change it.

wattyl
wattyl

The game looks good, but it seems they have sold out. Beastie Boys WTF? Wheres the actual rock songs, like some metal?

pete_merlin
pete_merlin

im def getting this and not rock band BABY!

ssuuusssHHHIIII
ssuuusssHHHIIII

they never changed the co-op... they added battle mode and online thats it they didnt take anything out next time get you facts striaght

fredvp71
fredvp71

I think the multiplayer battle mode sounds stupid. The co-op in GH2 is fine, why change it. This is one franchise where they could just keep redoing the same thing with new songs and everyone would be happy. I think I'll be moving over to Rock Band.

Huskers420
Huskers420

Agreed Pink Floyd would be a great add on to the guitar hero series

Poshkidney
Poshkidney

i hope they put a lot more tracks on the only o=nes that are good is Tenacious D and the rolling stones i want some pink floyd on just to be a chance to be david gilmour

jakeboudville
jakeboudville

looks like its shaping out into an awesome game like the previous two

Captain_Orgasm
Captain_Orgasm

I like the idea of the bosses. Hendrix and Dimebag Darrel should be on there. If the bassist has bosses, Flea from the Red hot Chili Peppers is a definate must - he's amazing

hydrolite
hydrolite

OMG i hope you battle hendrix!! Best guitar wizard in history. hope he plays left handed like in real life

shasam712
shasam712

oooooOOOOOoooooHHHHhhhhhh...suddenly the Rock Band video pull becmes clear. Welcome to the Jungle must have just been snapped up by Activision when that vid was put out. Seems like there really is a war over the song list...

jazilla
jazilla

Why isnt Hendrix playing the guitar left-handed? Thats like having Peyton Manning throwing the football in Madden with the wrong hand or having Randy Johnson throw righty in a videogame. Pretty lame.

d3funkt
d3funkt

"harmonix studio is in charge of both games, rock band is different then guitar hero, it involves everything instead of just guitar." Uh... no. Activision owns the Guitar Hero license. Activision has Neversoft working on Guitar Hero III, while Harmonix is now working on Rock Band. Harmonix is in no way, shape, or form connected to the Guitar Hero franchise whatsoever.

exocel
exocel

bring it the hell on! ROCK AND ROOOOOOLL!

djelwell
djelwell

@edflam311 "sounds good but rock band > guitar hero". harmonix studio is in charge of both games, rock band is different then guitar hero, it involves everything instead of just guitar.