The Gibson Guitar Studios in London were recently the venue for a sneak preview of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, due to come to PS2 and PS3 in the autumn, and early impressions are that it's shaping up to be the most rocking experience you can have without growing your hair out, dressing in leather and becoming a roadie for Metallica.
The first thing you notice is the new guitar controller. Shaped like Gibson's most famous guitar, the venerable Les Paul, the guitars are completely wireless, letting you indulge in all the scissor-kicking, sofa-jumping rock theatrics you want without the fear of bringing your PS3 crashing to the ground. They also come complete with interchangeable faceplates, meaning you can customise the look of your guitar to your heart's content, and detachable necks, making them much more easy to transport.
The early version of the game on display included an already impressive selection of tracks to play, including Sabotage by the Beastie Boys, My Name Is Jonas by Weezer, Welcome To The Jungle by Guns 'n' Roses and Knights Of Cydonia by Muse. The finished version is intended to have over 70 tracks, with over half of them being the master recordings by the original artists.
New additions to the gameplay include a brand-new Battle mode, which puts a new twist on the head-to-head Pro Face-off mode introduced in Guitar Hero II. Now you and your challenger face off over a track but with the addition of attacking power-ups that let you break one of your opponent's strings, overload the amp, increase the difficulty or even flip the controls around to be left-handed. You can store three of these attacks at a time, and they are activated by tilting the guitar upwards, just like using Star Power.
Rock 'til you drop
The Battle mode also ties into one of the other new gameplay features, boss battles. There are three throughout the game, culminating in a battle against Slash, erstwhile Guns 'n' Roses guitarist and now chief axeman for Velvet Revolver. These battles are the same as two-player battle modes and let you unlock new characters as well as new songs as a reward for your riff mastery. The game has also been given a graphical overhaul, with beautiful new venues and animations and there are a range of new characters jostling with returning favourites like Johnny Napalm, Judy Nails and Axel Steel.
From what has been unveiled so far, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock looks set to be absolutely amazing, retaining all the best features of the previous games while adding new features, upgrading the guitars and polishing the presentation to next generation levels. Keep your amps turned to 11 and your eyes glued to eu.playstation.com for more news and a full preview as soon as it arrives.