When I first saw Guitar Hero I sort of sneered at the box and turned away, dismissing it as another dull gimmick to try and clutter up teenagers' bedrooms. When Guitar Hero II came out, I rolled my eyes at the prospect of a sequel. With Guitar Hero III I gave in to peer pressure, and picked up my copy for the 360.
And my first thought was "What have I been missing out on?!?!"
First of all, getting into it. Obviously this was my first forray into GH, and the controller felt alien in my hands. The tutorials though are easy and forgiving, and soon have you ready to tackle some actual songs. And once you do you realise just how addictive this is.
The songs start of slow, with few notes, but as you progress through your venues the number of notes per song increases, and they're thrown at you more rapidly. But the learning curve on this game is little short of perfect, and the difficulty of the songs truly rises to match your developing skill, making for a challenging - but not frustrating - journey through career mode. On more than one occasion you'll find yourself about to power down before stopping yourself and muttering "Go on then, just one more song" and then find yourself repeating the statement 4 minutes later.
The replay value on this game is potentially infinite, with a store full of bonuses to buy (from videos, to extra songs, to more guitars and characters), and multiple-completions of the game required to buy them all. But you'll want to go back and replay, as once you've finished on your chosen difficulty level you'll realise you now have the skill to tackle the next difficulty level from scratch, another example of the great learning curve. The Achievements are challenging to get hold of, and will again have you going back time and time again also, sometimes repeating one song until you know every note by heart, but still encouraging you to go back to it.
The co-op mode is good, but it's a pity you're unable to play co-op over Xbox Live, which unfortunately means you have to squeeze a friend and their guitar into the same room as yourself. Whilst this is a slight downside, it's not enough of one to warrant losing a star.
The competetive two-player on the other hand is again superb. While the host always gets to choose the song, each player gets to choose their own difficulty setting, so you can still play to match your skill level.
And of course the track list. What would a GH review be without mentioning the songs? In a nutshell - great. There's an even mix in there to ensure there's something for everyone. There's soft rock, punk rock, classic rock, metal... it means that no-one will love every track in the game, but it means there'll be very few people who won't have a favourite song on there which they'll want to go back to again, and again, and again...
Overall, a fantastic game. Easy to get into for a quick 10-minute play while the kids are in bed, or just as much fun to embark upon an epic 5-hour weekend marathon. It's wonderfully addictive, so just try to remember - even rock legends need to take a minute to eat and drink between gigs.