The game is a bit different than the previous versions: Neversoft has done a good job of keeping things that worked well and adding improvements here and there.
As mentioned before, one nice addition is an on-screen counter for streaks of 25 notes or more. The good news is that now you can tell exactly how far from that 1000-note streak you are. The bad news is that you can break that 990-note streak by looking at the on-screen counter ...
Another nice change is that the Easy sets now work exactly like the others: there's money for each level of each song and an encore in each set. (On Easy and Medium, you can skip one song per set. On Hard and Expert, you must beat all songs to play the encore.)
New to GH III is online play; haven't tried it yet, but it sounds pretty neat. Unfortunately, no online co-op career mode ... what's that? Oh yeah, there's now a co-op career mode. Just like solo, you have four difficulty levels, and just like in co-op quickplay, you each set your difficulty level and you split the instruments (one plays lead, one plays rhythm or bass). The difficulty level for the team is the lower of the two, so if you're playing Hard and your partner's playing Easy, you'll be unlocking Easy songs. There are a few co-op career achievements this time, so it's worthwhile to find someone to come over and rock with you.
Interestingly, the co-op sets are not the same as the single-player sets: the encores in co-op are not available in single-player, some single-player songs appear in different sets in co-op, and the single-player songs you don't play in sets are unlocked once you beat the final song. (Thankfully, there's no boss battles in co-op.)
The bad news? That battle mode you've been hearing about? Well, it's part of the solo game, too. You have to defeat three bosses to beat the game. (Well, you don't have to beat the first two - you can actually skip them if you lose to them often enough, but still ...) I dislike this immensely. Keep your PvP crap out of my PvE game.
Once again, the songs you can buy are eh. Please, at some point, let us buy songs that we know. Please.
Achievements seem to be geared for a distressingly high level of ability. 315 of the 1000 points will not be available to you unless you can master the Expert songs, and another 75 points will be lost if you and a friend can't dominate Expert co-op play. I think this is going to end up like PGR 3, where a lot of people simply stopped playing once they'd peaked in the game because there simply weren't enough middle-difficulty achievements they could get.
Finally, achievements seem to be very glitchy. The xbox360achievements.org forums have a lot of complaints about things not unlocking when they should. Best get on that, programmers. We likes our gamerscores.
Oh, one more thing. You can go to guitarhero.com, create an account, and link it to your 360 gamertag (or your PS3 or Wii saved games???). You'll then get "groupies" based on your in-game ability, play in tournaments, and even join a tour group (I'm in the x360a tour group). There's a lot of neat data on the site, like your last few scores, favorite character/guitar/stage, and your progress through the game, but it's very glitchy. It only seems to read data from your active band, so if you're playing with an alt band when you first sign in, you won't get much credit. Also, several features aren't self-explanatory (how do you get groupies?). But hey, it gives them a bit of online visibility before Rock Band blows all that away, right?
So they lose a point for the battle-mode crap and the achievements, but other than that, this is a solid title, and I'd recommend it. (I'd beware the wireless guitars, though. I hear lots and lots of stories about problems with them. I have no idea why they went with removable necks. Bad idea.)
zlionsfan's rating: 9 strings out of 10.
SPOILER ALERT: A track-by-track breakdown of the sets follows.
Set 1 songs
- Foghat: Slow Ride Ha ha. I remember seeing these guys at a bar in West Lafayette. Good song for the Tone Deaf achievement. (No, literally. I do like it, and it's a good set-1 song.)
- Poison: Talk Dirty To Me Hey, they got the title right! (On this song. See set 8.) Kind of weak that they got Bret Michaels for vocals, but not the rest of the band.
- Pat Benatar: Hit Me With Your Best Shot She's a Set 1 staple now. Nice song.
- Social Distortion: Story Of My Life Hadn't heard this one before, but it's a nice song and full of notes. A quick 250K on medium.
Set 1 encore
- Kiss: Rock and Roll All Nite Excellent choice, especially given the scene in the game (playing in a back yard, with police using car headlights for ground-level lighting and helicopters for overhead lighting). Good set.
Set 2 songs
- Mountain: Mississippi Queen Great song, good choice, and as a bonus, because it's a cover, you can tell what they're singing.
- Alice Cooper: School's Out Another good song, although the cover singer isn't that good.
- Cream: Sunshine of Your Love Strange to have a Clapton song in set 2.
- Heart: Barracuda What, no crazy intro? (pun intended) Last song in a solid set.
Set 2 encore
- Rage Against The Machine: Bulls On Parade (performed by) After the first stupid boss battle, you get this song. eh. Lots of repetition.
Set 3 songs
- The Killers: When You Were Young (performed by) This song grew on me quickly; best in the set, which is not one of the better sets in the game.
- AFI: Miss Murder (performed by) Who? What? eh.
- The Who: The Seeker Never heard of this song, but it's interesting.
- Priestess: Lay Down (performed by) Shouldn't it be "Lie Down"?
Set 3 encore
- Rolling Stones: Paint It Black (performed by) Awesome encore, especially since it's them. Almost makes up for the stupid Pontiac stage.
Set 4 songs
- Black Sabbath: Paranoid Hell yes.
- The Sex Pistols: Anarchy in the U.K. (performed by) eh. Not a big fan anyway, and the new guys aren't as good as the dead ones.
- Sonic Youth: Kool Thing (performed by) eh.
- Weezer: My Name Is Jonas (performed by) Decent, but the lyrics are funny. Did you know the workers are going home?
Set 4 encore
- Pearl Jam: Even Flow (performed by) Another solid encore. Three of four so far.
Set 5 songs
- The Dead Kennedys: Holiday In Cambodia Interesting to see punk bands represented so well.
- Scorpions: Rock You Like A Hurricane Excellent song.
- Aerosmith: Same Old Song and Dance (performed by) Another great song.
- ZZ Top: La Grange A great end song, although the cover singer is awful. Why isn't this a master track?
Set 5 encore
- Guns N Roses: Welcome to the Jungle (performed by) Making up for the second boss battle, an outstanding track. GNR fits well with this game.
Set 6 songs
- Santana: Black Magic Woman This is a great song to play. The bass line is deceptively difficult, even at the lower levels.
- The Smashing Pumpkins: Cherub Rock (performed by) Not bad, especially compared to the next two songs.
- White Zombie: Black Sunshine Could be worse. This song is repetitive.
- Tenacious D: The Metal (performed by) Are you ******* kidding me? This is a ******* joke. These ******* don't even belong on a CD, much less in a game. The sad thing is that even though the lyrics are stupid, the song's better to play than Black Sunshine.
Set 6 encore
- Stevie Ray Vaughn: Pride and Joy Beautiful recovery from the end of that set. Too bad the cover singer does a terrible job. (Mental note: get master tracks for Texan singers.)
Set 7 songs
- Slipknot: Before I Forget (performed by) Ah, here comes the crap metal that I don't like.
- Disturbed: Stricken (performed by) More of the same.
- Queens of the Stone Age: 3's & 7's (performed by) More of the same.
- Muse: Knights of Cydonia (performed by) This one isn't so bad.
Set 7 encore
- Living Colour: Cult of Personality (remake, performed by) I guess the guitar part is pretty difficult. Not at all what I was expecting here.
Set 8 songs
- Slayer: Raining Blood [sic] (performed by) Yeah, the forums were ablaze as soon as the track list was released. That's "Reign In Blood", guys.
- Eric Johnson: Cliffs Of Dover Awesome song for this game. Note: Texas music with no vocals. Much easier to cover.
- Iron Maiden: The Number of the Beast (performed by) Great song, even more appropriate considering the stage.
- Metallica: One (performed by) Huge points if you can master this song.
Set 8 encore
- None That's right. The retarded boss battle is actually the encore. boo. However, unlike the other two fake songs, this one is a cover of "The Devil Went Down to Georgia." Unfortunately, it's a bad cover, but hey, at least it fits the game really well.
Note that after you beat the game solo, you get to practice "Through The Fire And Flames" by Dragonforce. You'll need to. On Easy, you can get the 1000-note streak achievement, but you'll earn it. Sadly, this is one of those "all over the place because I can" songs, as opposed to, say, One, which is actually a song.
I'll add these later.