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Guitar Hero has become a pop-culture icon. When people remember the year 2007 and this time period years from now youíve got to think that the wildly-popular (but unorthodox) video game will become one of the first things they will think of. The latest version of the game- Guitar Hero III came out this fall and after getting my hands on the game and getting to spend several late-night jam sessions with it, Iíve come to the conclusion that Guitar Hero III isnít something thatís just going to fade into pop-culture history- itís got the real potential to be a mainstay in music and videogames similarly to how the Madden franchise is with football and videogames.
Before I hit on more about being a pop-culture mainstay, letís talk about the game. The basic concept has not changed; youíve got a controller thatís basically a guitar- youíve got buttons for frets and a basic up and down strumming stick that works as a set of strings. Whatís different with the controller this year is that the controller is wireless. That way you can run around the room and do moves like Angus without having to worry about the restrictions of a 5 foot controller cable. Also different this year are the artist features. Slash is here as a boss for a level (and if you beat him- a playable character.) Also present is wikidi-wikidity guitar king- Rage Against the Machineís Tom Morello. Other famous musicians to be a part of the game- The Sex Pistols- who rerecorded ďAnarchyĒ for the game and have a great special feature in the videos section and Brett Michaels, who appears fully clothed in the music video for Poisonís ďTalk Dirty To Me.Ē The artist features are big due to the boss-battles, which is another big addition to this version of the game. Youíll go split-screen with Slash, Morello, and a few other bosses in a dueling-guitars match of sorts. Youíve got to knock Slash (or whoever youíre facing) out of the duel, by making them fail the song by using special power-ups that shake the guyís screen, break one of his strings, double his notes, and a few others. When Slash sucks, you winÖ hardly seems fair, but you get to play a song with him after the fact so itís not all bad. This dual option is also a multi-player feature. Thereís also a big online mode that adds a lot to the Guitar Hero experience, but as of press-time I have yet to get to that, so I couldnít properly address that feature- that being said if I try it and itís worth an article, rest-assured it will get one.
Now, on to my statement about Guitar Hero having Madden status, the gameís at the height of its popularity so it has that to a degree right now, but in a year or two from now if the formula for what the producers and developers do doesnít change itís at a risk of becoming a little stale. Iíd like to see all the best songs of 2008 in a game in 2009 (not strictly all 2007 songs-but a larger portion of the songs- youíve got to throw some classics in there too.) The idea has a few kinks to work out and some details to establish, but thatís one of the ways this franchise can really last- by ďupdating a rosterĒ every year like the sports games do, itís not the same, but itís similar. Every year somebody would buy a copy of the game to get all of those additional songs. For right now though, the game is dominated by the classics (as it should be to gain popularity) but this idea isnít too far off.
I used to be one of the non-believers in the game- Iíd walk through my nearest chair store and see a middle-aged man awkwardly playing the game at the display getting all sorts of really weird looks from his fellow customers and that threw me off a bit, but after getting a chance to play the latest version of the game itís impossible not to be a fan. The game is a lot of fun to play and itís got a major set of teeth to bite in and really be a part of culture in this country for years to come, just look what itís done this year. If youíve stuck your nose up at this saying itís a gimmick game either as a musician or as a gamer, get over it. This game is incredibly fun. Spend some time with it and youíll know exactly what I mean. Guitar Hero III is rated T for Teen and is available for all of the current major consoles. It goes for a suggested retail price of $99.99.