Recently I got the chance to speak with to Jeff Matsushita, Executive Producer at Red Octane about their hot new title Guitar Hero 3 Legends of Rock. I want to thank Jeff and Angie Newman at BHI for arranging this interview.
GVK: What are some of the new features that gamers can look forward to?
JM: Crank it up to 11 and get ready to rock – Featuring over 70% master recordings, spanning over 40 years of music across many rock genres, Guitar Hero fans have the opportunity to shred to one of the greatest compilations of music ever. Adding to the track list are some of the most legendary European anthems with a vast array of downloadable content post-launch. From Metallica to Muse and Rolling Stones to Rage Against the Machine, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock offers up a truly legendary set list.
Truly exclusive music- Multiple tracks that can only be found in the game include guitar icons Slash and Tom Morello contributing original guitar riffs for their boss battles. Also, the Sex Pistols re-entered the studio for the first time in 30 years to re-record “Anarchy in the U.K.” providing Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock an original recording not available anywhere else. Additionally, Living Colour re-recorded their Grammy Award winning “Cult of Personality” adding a solo that left legendary guitarist Vernon Reid grunting.
An authentic look and feel – Improving the graphics from the ground up have created a more intense visual element giving guitar heroes the sense of performing on their own rock stage. Slash, Tom Morello and Bret Michaels spent hours in motion capture suits so that their movements and styles were translated perfectly to their in-game characters. Venue light shows have been coordinated for each song along with choreographing the animations for each band member. Ultra-detailed textures in the fictional characters and multiple outfits give the option of customizing the guitarist to meet everyone’s inner grunge, punk, metal or anything in between.
Rock this way – The arcade-inspired battle mode adds a new dimension to the Guitar Hero franchise. The idea isn’t necessarily to hit the most notes, but rather hit the right ones and learn the nuances of using the power-up attacks. With Guitar Battle, Star Power sequences are replaced with Battle Power sequences. Hit every note in the Battle Power sequence and receive a power-up that can be used to attack the competition.
You’ve got to beat the best, to be the best – Battle mode lends itself to the boss battles featuring Slash and Tom Morello. After defeating a boss, unlock them as a playable character and continue to the encore for the set list, which is a master recording of one of their most legendary songs. After defeating Slash, the next performance is “Welcome to the Jungle” and Slash stays on stage to play with the gamer. Likewise for Tom Morello and the hard-hitting “Bulls on Parade.”
It takes two – Taking the co-op experience to the next level is the new Co-op Career mode giving guitar heroes the chance to progress through their career with a friend. Since not all songs play well for both the lead and bass tracks, only the best songs are pulled from the single player career mode with six co-op career exclusive encore songs.
Rockin’ around the world – Compete head-to-head in any of the competitive game modes online to prove who the most legendary guitar hero really is. Or, for those looking for a more friendly experience, shred to a few tracks on the lead or the bass in co-op online.
Dude, where’s my wire? – Wireless guitars on the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii will have the Gibson Les Paul guitar shape, while the PS2 will be receiving a new design in the Gibson Kramer Striker shape.
Axe innovation – All guitars will have detachable necks for easier portability as well as storage. Adding a new level of personalization to the Les Paul Guitar controllers are interchangeable faceplates giving guitar heroes the opportunity to show their style via their instrument.
at are some of the new features that gamers can look forward to?
GVK: With the huge success of the series, what did you set out to improve upon this time out?
JM: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock continues to build on Guitar Hero’s successful easy to play, but difficult to master gameplay mechanic and take the franchise to a whole new level.
The guitar controllers have been improved in a number of ways. For the first time we are able to offer wireless controllers across all four platforms, Xbox 360, PlayStation3, PlayStation2 and the Wii. We’re also offering a heightened level of customization with the interchangeable faceplates.
The game itself has improved across the board as well. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock features a huge set list with original recordings from some of the greatest bands of all-time. The graphics have been improved immensely and we’ve added new game modes to further the Guitar Hero experience.
GVK: What are some of the songs gamers will be able to select, and how do you go about deciding which songs to include in the game?
JM: The soundtrack for Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is truly legendary. Taking previous set lists to a whole new level with better than 70% master recordings. All rock genres have been incorporated and every era has representation ranging from The Rolling Stones to Guns ‘N’ Roses to Metallica to Tenacious D. In terms of actual selection, the team was intent on finding music that sufficed three criteria: a legendary song, from a legendary artist, that played well and was enjoyable.
GVK: There has been some talk about wireless guitars this time around, what can you tell the readers about this?
JM: The next generation platforms (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii) will have the Gibson Les Paul guitar shape, while the PS2 will be receiving a new design in the Gibson Kramer shape. All four guitars will be wireless.
The Xbox 360 Gibson Les Paul Guitar controller is the first Microsoft certified wireless controller. The Wii Guitar has a void in the guitar for the Wiimote to snap into and connects to the Wiimote via the nunchuk port.
GVK: Will there be any online modes?
JM: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock will be playable Online on the Xbox 360, PlayStation3 and the Wii. Guitar battle, co-op, face-off and pro-face off will all be playable with no lag – unless you’re playing on a 56k dial-up connection.
GVK: Will players be able to download new songs and updates after the game ships?
JM: While we have not announced any details regarding downloadable content, we can tell you that there will be fulfilling the demands of Guitar Hero fans out there. Also, with Neversoft we have a world-class developer of whom we have the utmost confidence in their ability to release downloadable content to Guitar Hero fans in appropriate time frames.
GVK: What have been some of the biggest challenges in creating the game, and what have been the biggest successes?
JM: The biggest challenge was making use of the flux capacitor that we’ve added to the guitar controllers. Unfortunately, we did not have time to integrate the time travel feature into the hardware.
Landing original recordings to bands like Guns ‘N’ Roses, Metallica and The Rolling Stones was huge but the ultimate success will come on October 28th when we release a game that we’re confident Guitar Hero fans will love and will allow them to further live their dreams of becoming a Rock Legend.
GVK: What formats will the game be released in?
JM: We will see Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock coming to the PC and Mac this year. We’re constantly looking into opportunities to deliver the Guitar Hero experience to all fans of the franchise on platforms we have yet to release on. However, at this time we cannot confirm console/handheld versions of the title outside of Xbox 360, PlayStation®3, PlayStation®2 and Wii.
GVK: What does the future of the franchise have in store for gamers to look forward to?
JM: We’re constantly looking into ways of improving and expanding the Guitar Hero franchise. One of which will hopefully be featuring space travel in Guitar Hero XVII: Legends of Mars.