Review: Guitar Hero 3 on Wii plays like a headliner but sounds like an opening act

guitar-hero-iii-legends-of.jpgActivision got lucky this time. If it weren’t for the rocking gameplay of Guitar Hero III, the audiophile in me would advise against the $90 purchase on principle alone — don’t ship a music game with mono-only sound while in game mode. Inexplicably, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock for Wii does precisely that. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of saving graces.

First and foremost, the gameplay is superlative. Like its predecessors, Guitar Hero III does a wonderful job in making you feel like you’re an actual guitarist. Even if you play guitar in real life, the make-believe experience is still persuasive.

As the subtitle implies, Legends of Rock boast an impressive, entertaining — and more importantly — rocking 74-song setlist. It’s better than the second game’s track listing, and right up their with the first game’s. What’s more, a majority of the songs are original artist recordings, not covers. Nice.

One area where the Wii outshines its next-gen new-gen counterparts is the wireless guitar controller. Wii adds rumble, something the PS3 and 360 versions don’t include, and it feels good. Additionally, it alerts you when you’re star power is ready so you can stay focused on the incoming notes. Also, the added weight of the Wii Remote (which is housed in the body of the guitar peripheral) makes this controller the most solid of any version, resting on your shoulders in convincing fashion.

Much to my surprise (and prolonged enjoyment) is the inclusion of a robust online mode over the Nintendo Wifi Connection. Friend Codes remain, but playing a game with strangers is a breeze and there are several options to choose from when competing online. Guitar Hero III career mode is reason enough to own the game, so the online mode (which I hear is even better than the PS3 version) is a welcome and appreciated bonus.

In the end, Guitar Hero III features a plethora of play options, has a nice sense of style, and is very addicting. The sloppy graphics and mono-only sound (which Activision says they’re looking into) are disappointing, but they rarely (if ever) get in the way. Recommendation: buy it.

My friend code: 326532644957

Three stars out of four

Note: I would have easily given this game four stars if the sound was working properly. Disclosure: Thanks to Activision for sending us a review copy of the game.