Next up on the Guitar Hero stage … enter Metallica.
The legendary hard rockers are providing the latest riff on Guitar Hero, with a game based on their music expected in stores during the first half of 2009 for Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation 3 and PS2. No price or rating has been set, but past GH games have sold for $40 to $50 and have been rated T for ages 13-up.
"Us being a pretty guitar-oriented band, I think we were pretty much destined to do something with Guitar Hero," says guitarist Kirk Hammett. "It's a natural sort of relationship. We jumped at the chance."
Guitar Hero: Metallica plays out differently from Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, the first GH game based on one band (released in June). "There's a historical element involving some memorable gigs we have played, but it's not something that follows a chronological timeline to a T," says drummer Lars Ulrich. "We kind of wanted it to be a little bit more about who we are now than a who-we-were-in-1986 type of thing."
After an opening set of two Metallica songs — complete with the 3-D animated band on-screen — players take the role of a fledgling group of rockers inspired to create their own band. The story line, Ulrich says, "is about helping out a bunch of young dudes to put a band together to come on the road with us."
Metallica is one of the few bands worthy of a solo title, says Luke Plunkett of game news site Kotaku.com, "because they're one of the few popular enough — and with a large enough back catalog — to make it a worthwhile endeavor. A lot of their biggest songs are built on fast drums, fast guitars and epic solos, which should make them more enjoyable to play."
Band members Hammett, Ulrich, singer James Hetfield and bassist Robert Trujillo had a motion-capture performance session to bring their 3-D characters to life. About 40% of the 45-plus songs will be from artists that influenced Metallica, played concerts with them or appeared on 1998 covers album Garage Inc. Among them: Queen, the Foo Fighters, Alice in Chains, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Seger, Kyuss and Samhain.
"That is another cool facet of Guitar Hero," Hammett says. "Younger kids are exposed to all this great rock and heavy metal they'd never be exposed to otherwise."
You can play solo or with up to four — two guitarists, singer and drums — using current game controllers. You also can add a second pedal (sold separately) to propel double bass drums as Ulrich does. The game takes its cue from Metallica's ferocity. "It's a couple grades harder than Guitar Hero World Tour," says lead designer Alan Flores.