Are you a Guitar Hero fan or do you follow the way of Rock Band? While the differences between the two games might have once been huge they're slowly getting closer to one another in most respects. Rock Band was the more social experience; generally easier songs paired up with a music video approach to the visuals gave the game a more user friendly feeling. On the other hand Guitar Hero featured considerably harder music and bland, stiff visuals giving it the appearance of being more geared towards the hardcore crowd.
However things began to change with the advent of Guitar Hero World Tour. The guys at Neversoft actually started paying attention to the appearance of their game, giving it the look of a live concert performance. In addition to that they finally lowered the difficulty just a bit which brings the game up on even footing with Rock Band. Then they release Guitar Hero Metallica and it just completely puts their other band focused title, Guitar Hero Aerosmith, to total shame.
If you're even a mild fan of Metallica you will find the setlist for this title blows most other rhythm games out of the water. With a ridiculous amount ofMetallica music spanning the last thirty years acting as the backbone of the title reinforced with some great music from System of a Down, Thin Lizzy, Mercyful Fate and even Slayer. This is some real quality music here just pouring from every set in the title. In Guitar Hero Aerosmith while the music was good there were some setlists that were absolutely horrible, requiring you to force yourself through the tiers. There is nothing like that in this title which makes playing it an absolute joy.
All of the changes that were made in World Tour have carried over to this title. That means you get the full band treatment as well as the use of the slider functions on the controller. However there have been some positive changes such as the inclusion of individual rock meters so you can tell when someone is going to fail out as well as the inclusion of an all new difficulty. See when Lars Ulrich, drummer of Metallica, is playing the drums he uses two bass pedals. To replicate this there is a new difficulty Expert+ which sees you doing much the same and is absolutely hellish. If you aren't fantastic at the drums, real or plastic, expect to get your butt handed to you.
The graphics have been really cleaned up from the days of Guitar Hero Aerosmith. No longer do the characters look like stiff robots with no range of motion. In-concert camera work was boring and everyone moved like their legs were broken. Things have improved immensely with some impressive camera work that looks like its right out of a band performing live. Plus the character models no longer look like deformed monstrosities straight out of the works of Lovecraft.
Metallica itself looks awesome as well. The motion capture was obviously very thorough because their movements and actions all look really good. With the exception of Lars Ulrich, who looks like he has a lemon in his mouth and his cheeks have caved in, the band all looks like their real life counterparts. What's really interesting is that depending on the venue many of the songs have unique things that are said or motions made during the gameplay.
Adding to all of that are an absolute bucketload of extras liberally strewn throughout the whole game. Each song can be watched as a music video with little factoids that pop up as it plays. Anyone who has seen Pop-Up Video on VH1 has a pretty good idea as to what to expect. Then there are the lyrics for each song, live concert music videos for some of them and general song information to be found. Plus there are a number of venues that replicate places where Metallica played over the course of their career.
While the GHTunes music creator is still entirely uninteresting the rest of the package is of such high quality that it's easy to recommend. However the game is still very much overpriced since there isn't much beyond what you get on disk. Other than the Death Magnetic full album download there doesn't seem to be any real downloadable content on the horizon and that means that you're basically paying sixty bucks for a game that is eventually going to go stale, unlike Guitar Hero World Tour or Rock Band 2.