The lights are dark in your basement and the big-screen TV is staring at you straight ahead as you’re lounging on the couch. A plastic Les Paul replica guitar is leaning on your lap with your arm stretched out wide enough so your pinky can reach the faux instrument’s very edge. Lou, the popular character who later turns into the devil, shows up on your screen, then a keyboard drops onto the playing field. “My Name is Jonas” by Weezer starts playing on expert. It’s time to adjust your fingers.
Welcome back to the best days of your life.
Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, released in 2007, was the most perfect band or guitar-related video game ever made, and I’m gonna tell you why right here in this blog while I put that song on blast.
You can listen along to the soundtrack as you read, too. It’s right here.
Here are seven reasons this game will go down as the rhythm video game G.O.A.T.
Reason 1: The controller
The beauty of the third installment of the franchise was the simplicity and comfortability of its guitar. For Wii users, that meant a wireless! (a big deal back then) white Les Paul guitar, and for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, a black one.
The guitar was lightweight, and fit perfectly in your lap. The makers knew there was no way any of us were really playing this game standing up and I respect that.
Also, there were only seven buttons to hit, and each made made a nice clicking sound to let you know you were doing it right. The five colored buttons were just the right amount, and their placement on the end gave intense finger workouts for the small-handed players reaching for dear life to nail the “Cult of Personality” solo. GH3 was the same thing as going to the gym, but for hands.
If you’re remembering correctly, the red, green and yellow buttons were our friends, the blue one could hang sometimes and the orange one was death. Aside from those five, there was the easy-to-reach strum bar and the whammy that only elites would use.
What a perfect system.
Reason 2: The characters
GH3 would blow up its characters in the background while the songs played and you jammed along, and they were all bosses. Shouts to Slash, Lou, Midori, Lars, Judy Nails, and the devil who is actually Lou?
Reason 3: The career mode
What I really appreciated about this game is the grind you really had go on to beat it. The first career mode in franchise history had a story to it and animations to go along, which kept your attention. Then, you’d have to fight through all 42 of the basic songs to beat the campaign.
Each song was unlocked depending on how far you made it through the career mode, but they didn’t make it too difficult. Sometimes you could go to the next tier of songs without beating all of the ones in one prior. (I’m looking at you, “Stricken”.)
The further you progressed in the game, the more currency you’d earn to unlock bonus songs and characters, too. Simple systems are sometimes the best.
Reason 4: The guitar battles
The career mode was fun as hell, and that was in part because of the boss battles you had to clear. The first one against Tom Morello was easy, but the one against Slash was not and then the one against the literal devil while playing “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” while in like ... hell? That was tough. That was THE one.
The different power-ups made these battles so tough, too. The broken strings and the lefty flip especially. I both hated and loved this challenge.
Reason 5: The soundtrack freakin’ ruled
GH3 had 73 dope songs, so many of which I’d never even heard of at the time, and that’s why it felt awesome to play. These were songs my family grew up with, and we were all hype playing and watching together.
Some of my personal faves (in no order):
- “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll” by Blue Oyster Cult
- “Cliffs of Dover” by Eric Johnson
- “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour
- “Knights of Cydonia” by Muse
- “Lay Down” by Priestess
- “Story of My Life” by Social Distortion
Wow, I feel like an edgy punk teen just typing that.
Anyway, here were some of your favorites:
I see what you did here.— Katie Barnes (@katie_barnes3) August 14, 2019
Mine is Lay Down or Miss Murder
Tenacious D- the metal— Trevor (@VGKTRE) August 14, 2019
“Can’t be saved” - Senses Fail— C (@yungloudancolin) August 14, 2019
One by Metallica— simão (@ogonorreias) August 14, 2019
Bulls on parade— Jeremy (@JeremyAretakis) August 14, 2019
Reason 6: It didn’t include any other instruments!
Maybe it’s just me, but rhythm games felt really tacky once they tried to incorporate a whole band into it. I get the thought process, but does anyone really want to hear Dan sing? And the drums were always so laggy.
I’m rambling here.
What I mean to say is that Guitar Hero 3 is unequivocally better than anything Rock Band has ever produced.
(Sorry about that.)
Reason 7: GH3 had the best final boss ever
So far away we wait for the day
For the lives all so wasted and gone
We feel the pain of a lifetime lost in a thousand days
Through the fire and the flames we carry on
Yeah, ”Through the Fire and the Flames” was the most kickass, guitar-shredding, head-busting banger of a final stage in a video game I can remember. The song ruled. The song never ended. The combination of buttons you were supposed to hit made me nauseous. And every single person who played this game wanted to crush this song.
Yet few did.
We must stan this hero who did, in fact, nail it at 100 percent, though:
A true legend of rock.
Please bring Guitar Hero 3 back to the new-age systems, Activision. We miss it so much.
Also, reader, go ahead and let us know what your favorite song was in the comments.