Guitar Hero 3 impressions

Guitar Hero 3 is out and about now, and just snagged my copy. Initially, I had my reservations about it: the first set in the career mode didn’t wow me, and though I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, it just didn’t feel right. At first I thought that may be because this incarnation of Guitar Hero was developed by Neversoft, who are better known for Tony Hawk games, rather than the musically-inclined Harmonix, but I think it’s actually because the PS2 version no longer feels like the real deal. While GH2 on the 360 was basically just the PS2 version with higher resolution and a few model/texture improvements, it’s pretty clear that GH3 is a proper 360/PS3 title, and they’ve hacked the hell out of the presentation to get it running on everyone’s favourite seven-year-old console.

Thankfully, that doesn’t really matter once you get to the good songs, and boy are there some good songs to be had: Sunshine of Your Love, Paranoid, Suck My Kiss, and perhaps best of all, Welcome to the Jungle, are all fantastic fun. I still have to go through the career mode to unlock everything (and seemingly in co-op as well as single-player, to make sure I get both sets of encore tracks), but it’s sure to be a party favourite once that’s done.

You might ask why I’ve got the PS2 version when I have a perfectly functional 360 (and a Wii, for that matter) sitting next to it, but it’s simple enough: I already have two PS2 guitars. There’s a greater issue though, and that’s the problem of guitar compatibility on the 360.

Right now, things are fairly simple: there’s GH2 and GH3 on the 360, and their controllers work with each other, so in two week’s time I could go buy both with their respective guitars. However, what I’m hanging for much more than any next-gen Guitar Hero is Rock Band, Harmonix’s ambitious, and perhaps insane, attempt to deliver the full band experience by combining dual guitar controllers with drums and vocals. There’s no underestimating the potential here: SingStar, Guitar Hero, and Donkey Konga are massive party hits in our house, and this is a game that effectively combines them all in to one massive experience.

Harmonix is doing the best it can to support guitars, and Rock Band supports the GH2 and GH3 controllers, along with its own new guitar. Unfortunately, Activision/Red Octane aren’t interested in returning the favour, so the Rock Band guitar won’t work in GH3. Rock Band is coming as a pack with the mic, drums, and a single guitar, so it would be fantastic if you could get that pack, and the GH3 + guitar pack, and have two guitars in each game, but it looks like that just won’t happen.

At this point, it looks like the best option would be to buy GH2, GH3, and Rock Band on the 360, all with their respective guitars. At least I’d be able to get rid of the PS2 guitars in that case, but I’d still be left with one more guitar than I really want.

I have impressions of about five billion other games that I want to get down too, but they can wait till later.

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