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Guitar Hero: Metallica

With more Guitar Hero games than Metallica albums, the Hall of Fame inductees are long overdue their own plastic-instrument-rock-a-thon. Activison took a little bit of a holier than thou approach with their only other single-band title, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith; so fans of the biggest metal act in the world will be hoping this isn’t just another cash-cow and provides a product worthy of the band and the full whack price tag.

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From the get-go it’s clear to see that a lot of effort has been put in to make this the ultimate Metallica gaming experience – and rubbish any perceptions of it being a cash-in. No corners have been cut in production as the opening menus showcase plenty of artwork and fonts familiar to any fans of the band. As you make your way through to the extras there’s ample amounts of photos to view and videos to watch, with bootleg footage from shows from a plethora of different locales, as well as some thoroughly entertaining insight into the mo-cap sessions with James, Kirk, Lars and Rob. There’s a lot of great stuff to sink your teeth into if you’re a fan, with a lot of it being never-before-seen, even in the realms of the fan club.

But the best of all are the Metallifacts, which you can unlock after completing each song in the career mode. Here you can go in, without playing, and watch the digital performance of the band. This is all well and good on it’s own since the animation is stunning – with each band members stage persona and mannerisms shining through – but they’ve also thrown in a bunch of facts for each song, whether it’s about the songs meaning, how it got its name, or even just some fun info that you’ve probably never heard before. Along with the photos, videos and lyrics it provides more insight into the band and makes this the true Metallica experience, even away from actually playing the game. It’s pure fan service that could have easily been left out, so it’s great to have it here.

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“Metallica’s songs work exceptionally well with this format. For better or worse their musical style has changed through the years so the tracks are pretty varied for one band.”

Although everyone knows the reason anyone will buy this game is for the music, of course. Just like Guitar Hero: World Tour, Metallica uses the full band set with guitar, bass, vocals and drums all featuring. You can go through the career with each one or play with a four-person band. However, the career mode has changed a tad this time around to revert back to the old tier system seen in each title before World Tour. There’s a lot more leeway this time, though, as you only need to reach a certain amount of stars to progress rather than complete each and every song in any particular tier. This means you can complete the career mode before you’ve even reached 50% of songs complete. It allows you to skip over any songs you’re having trouble with so you can go back to them at a later date without getting stuck and frustrated. It might seem a little easy, but there has to be some kind of compromise for new players since Metallica’s songs aren’t exactly easy.

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It’s not an overly hard game until some of the later songs, but the lower tier stuff isn’t exactly a cake walk when compared to the ridiculously easy songs you’ll normally find in either Guitar Hero or Rock Band in the early stages of the game. But don’t worry you extreme metal heads, these tracks haven’t been dubbed down to make it more accessible; on the higher difficulty levels there’s still a degree of challenge with these songs, especially with the solos. And even if they were too easy they’d still be a blast to play since Metallica’s songs work exceptionally well with this format. For better or worse their musical style has changed through the years so the tracks are pretty varied for one band. You’ll find early, straight-up thrash from Kill ‘Em All, through to the bluesy, hard rock style of Load and ReLoad till you eventually reach the heavy metal sound of Death Magnetic; the set list spans every era of Metallica, and you’ll find all the songs you know and love (and possibly hate) here. Obviously there will be some glaring omissions for some people, but overall this is what you would expect to find if Metallica ever released a Greatest Hits album. It’s disappointing that tracks like Ride The Lightning and Blackened don’t appear, but they were featured as DLC for Rock Band so there may have been some issues there.

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“The set list spans every era of Metallica, and you’ll find all the songs you know and love (and possibly hate) here.”

It’s also a shame that you can’t use any other DLC besides the full Death Magnetic album that was released for Guitar Hero III and World Tour back in September. It’d be great to use all the other DLC you’ve downloaded here, especially since there are a few new Metallica specific hair styles and clothes when it comes to creating your character and customising instruments.

Of course there are still a few other bands included as part of the set list as well. Whether they’ve inspired Metallica, been inspired by them or just relate on some level, there is a fairly good set list here with over 20 bands. Motorhead’s Lemmy even makes an appearance along with King Diamond on their respective tracks, and there’s also a few songs that were featured as part of Metallica’s cover album, Garage Inc. to give some familiarity to fans.

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This is by far the best Guitar Hero to date. Metallica’s song structure is suited perfectly to the music genre, and each track is extremely fun to play. For fans of the band this is a definite purchase, and any other fans of this genre should at least take a look. The style of music might not be your thing but this is one of the best set lists so far and the new Expert+ difficulty level adds a whole new dimension of madness for all you crazy drummers out there. With never a dull moment on either instrument this is the cream of the crop as far as Guitar Hero is concerned. Seek and Destroy!

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2008. Get in touch on Twitter @richardwakeling.

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