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

Dan On November 7, 2007 07.11.2007 with 28 Comments

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.

28 Responses to “Review: Guitar Hero 3 on Wii plays like a headliner but sounds like an opening act”

  1. Josh S. says:

    It’s mono only? I guess I didn’t notice because I only have it connected to my TV’s speakers. It sounds nice and robust to me on that setup, though. In fact, I have to leave it pretty low so as not to annoy the neighbors.

  2. Blake says:

    Josh,

    It’ll take an audiophile to readily notice (NOTE: I’m an audio snob), and the mono doesn’t sound bad by any means, just unfaithful and not as-advertised which may rightfully frustrate current and/or prospective owners.

    But to be clear, this game rocks.

  3. EdEN says:

    So, no update released by activision by the Wii Shop Channel to remedy the sound issue?

  4. InvisibleMan says:

    I commented on this before, but I’ll repeat it here: are the other Guitar Hero games in stereo or surround sound? I haven’t played the game in any of its iterations, but if it is a rythm game posing as a bass playing simulator, itsn’t it supposed to be in “mono”? As in, just the one track coming from the guitar? How does the stereo sound get decided in the other versions of the game? Does the player move around so you hear the sound coming from the nearest speaker? That would be bizarre…

    When you connect an amp to a real electric guitar, by the way, it is only one amp, as in one speaker or “mono”. The stereo or surround happens after the performance, in the mixing room.

  5. Blake says:

    InvisibleMan — the other games (and versions) are in stereo. While you’re correct in the fact that live sound is monaural, this game is simulating recorded songs, not live performances. Hence your point is moot. :)

    @Eden — in my communications with Activision, it seems as if their are unwilling to accept the fact that the game is mono-only (read: they say it “should be” at least in stereo which it isn’t). It feels like they are just trying to avoid the issue — they might even get away with it.

  6. BA007 says:

    Blake, love the site and want to add you to my guitar hero friends list
    Code:2964 6747 6295
    I play easy and medium and am looking forward to playing you

  7. used cisco says:

    I totally assumed this game was simulating live performances. I mean, you drive a tour bus around to new venues where you perform. You don’t put in a CD and play along in your room for petes sake.

    All that being said, I didn’t notice this and neither did 5 reviewers of this game that I read. And I’m talking about reviews of the Wii version. I can understand that an audio snob might have a gripe about this, but cmon, that shouldn’t effect your recommendation for the game when you KNOW that almost NO ONE will even notice.

    And, besides, you play the game on EASY!
    ;)

  8. srkelley says:

    What’s the difference between an original artist recording and a cover?

    And ya, I agree with you. $90 is too much for this game. I’m not basing that on it being mono only sound, but that the Wii version is essentially ps2 port with easily added online support and much cheaper guitar shell. In fact, I don’t know how much those shells are supposed to cost, but they better be $10 or less.

  9. srkelley says:

    And to cisco, good point, but this is a music based rhythm game. Its’ sound is going to judged much more harshly than any other component.

  10. InvisibleMan says:

    @ srkelley:

    The original artist recording is the actual guitar track used in the original album, while the cover is a re-creation of the guitar section of the song, usually by another artist but it could be re-performed by the original artist. This is what gets included when the original multi-track is not available…

    Thanks for answering my question, Blake! Since I haven’t played any of the games, I didn’t know the tracks in the game were imitating the studio recording… Then, yes, it is not acceptable that they would be sent in “mono”. And that would be VERY noticeable, in my opinion! (I can notice even when the game is in 5.1 surround vs. just dolby).

  11. EdEN says:

    Hopefully inquiries from the media and from customers will force Activision to address this issue, considering the game is advertised as supporting AT LEAST Stereo and ACTUALLY being in Mono… well, that’s false advertising.

    Over here in Mexico the game is in extremely limited quantities, so I haven’t gotten a chance to purchase it (along with BWii and Zack and Wiki) and would like to know if it will be corrected.

  12. DmNt says:

    Like Blake said Activision will try to avoid the issue. Hopefully, it gets big enough that they’ll have to fix it. The Wii is online for a reason, and that reason would be offering downloadable game patches. Like a patch that makes Guitar Hero III stereo, no?

  13. neko to kuruma says:

    “The original artist recording is the actual guitar track used in the original album, while the cover is a re-creation of the guitar section of the song, usually by another artist but it could be re-performed by the original artist. This is what gets included when the original multi-track is not available…”

    The original artist recording is the original or re-recorded (in the case of Living Colour and The Sex Pistols) version of the song performed by the original artist. Not just the guitar track, but the entire song as a whole. A cover is the same song but performed by a band that did not originally record the song. Again, not just the guitar track.

  14. Noremakk says:

    I hope they offer more songs to be downloaded off of the web. A way to just jump in and play multiplayer without having to go to career mode would be nice too.

  15. used cisco says:

    @srkelly

    “And to cisco, good point, but this is a music based rhythm game. Its’ sound is going to judged much more harshly than any other component.”

    I would agree with this, but for some reason, in 5 other reviews, it was never mentioned so it can’t be that much of a problem. I play guitar in a band and I never even noticed. If its good enough to pass for live music, who really cares anyway?

    “but that the Wii version is essentially ps2 port with easily added online support and much cheaper guitar shell.”

    Cheaper than what? The Wii shell is awesome, way better than the PS2 controller I got with Guitar Hero II, which was $80. And they are wireless to boot. The online is actually very full featured and free.

  16. Blake says:

    “in 5 other reviews, it was never mentioned so it can’t be that much of a problem.”

    Sadly used cisco, many of those reviews were the 360 game pawned off as Wii reviews — a dirty little secret that plagues our industry from time to time.

  17. used cisco says:

    @blake,

    “Sadly used cisco, many of those reviews were the 360 game pawned off as Wii reviews — a dirty little secret that plagues our industry from time to time.”

    Thats a pretty serious allegation.

  18. Blake says:

    I added you BA007

  19. Chris says:

    Blake,
    I heard you on the podcast saying that Activision suggested you change your sound option to stereo, and you said there was no such option.
    Maybe they were referring to the setup in the Wii system menu.

    The game rocks :) and I’m glad you’re able to enjoy it despite its issues.

    I’ve added you to my list, here’s my FC,
    franck3d: 193388338142

  20. argus says:

    Blake, was your review copy a boxed, shrinkwrapped copy? Or was it some kind of promotional disc? If it was the latter, perhaps the sound glitch doesn’t exist in the retail version.

  21. Blake says:

    Sealed retail copy.

  22. rytoid says:

    Likely, you’re outputting through a Dolby ProLogic-2 speaker set, in which case, ya, there’s a glitch. Have you confirmed that the mono thing is also the case with a standard two speaker setup that most people will be using?

  23. stafo says:

    I will throw my number in to the mix.
    0645-3924-1670

    Currently doing Hard mode, but it’s…hard.

  24. srkelley says:

    You know what Blake? I’ll pay for shipping and handling and you can give me your retail copy of Guitar Hero III for free. I think that I can somehow manage to enjoy the game in mono sound. Anything to save you from th mono. Gamers 4 Gamers!

  25. Blake says:

    @srkelley

    Where in my review did I say I didn’t enjoy the game? Despite its warts, I even recommended a purchase. Don’t confuse critique (however unfair you may find mine to be) with an outright disregard.

  26. srkelley says:

    @Blake

    Too bad I didn’t get you. I’m always trying to get free games. :(

  27. Dave says:

    I have a question.

    When I play GH3 on the wii wifi, I can go 100% and I still lose by alot, is there something that I can do differnt to make my points go up more when I play someone else on wifi. Its driving me crazy, to get 100% notes hit and lost the battle.

    Please help,

    thanks,

    Dave

  28. Dave says:

    please help

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