Hallowed Be Thy Game: Guitar Hero III at 15 Years Old


(Editor’s note: Let’s face it — most metalheads are a buncha nerds. To that end, Hallowed Be Thy Game is a weekly feature here on MetalSucks where we’ll highlight some of the metal-as-fuck board/video/tabletop role playing games we’re playing or have played in the past.)

Do you remember 2007? Wintersun were a new band who still finished their albums, a young politician embarked on his presidential campaign, Divine Heresy made their one good album and Guitar Hero ruled the rhythm game landscape. By the time that Guitar Hero 3 was released on October 28, 2007, the franchise was pretty much impossible to ignore as a fan of rock music or video games, introducing a legion of young gamers to classic rock and heavy metal.

Guitar Hero III is significant for a bunch of reasons, not least of which is the game’s ridiculous sales. Released in a banner year for video games—Halo 3, Call of Duty 4, Assassin’s Creed, BioShock and Mass Effect were all new the same year, with three of those properties debuting for the first time.

And despite the cluttered field of stellar titles, Guitar Hero III managed to become one of the best-selling video games of that year, ranking at number four in North America with 2.72 million game and guitar packages sold. At the time, Activision claimed it was their best-selling game of all time.

Selling nearly three million games on one continent alone is a pretty impressive feat and Guitar Hero 3 came loaded with a setlist worthy of such an achievement. The third installment of the series featured a more metal-heavy list, featuring songs like “Rain in Blood,” “Before I Forget,” “Paranoid” and “The Number of the Beast.” And who could forget the epic moment in the credits when you can play Dragonforce‘s extreme power metal classic, “Through the Fire and the Flames,” for the first time?

Toss in a few awesome guest cameos, boss battles and playable characters like Slash, Tom Morello and Bret Michaels and Guitar Hero III is pretty much the ultimate tribute to guitar rock—the full shebang would come just a month later when Harmonix unleashed Rock Band into the world—but it also served as an incredible jumping off point into the worlds of rock and heavy metal.

Much like how Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater opened up an entry point to punk via its soundtrack in 1999, Guitar Hero III (and its predecessors) opened up the same opportunity to would-be rockers and longhairs. Seriously—where else would a preteen with no older siblings, no local record shop and no knowledge of Slayer, let alone White Zombie, unknowingly find a primer that guides them from “Sunshine of Your Love” to downloadable bonus content like Killswitch Engage‘s “My Curse”?

For as much of a landmark as Guitar Hero III felt like at the time, it was quickly overshadowed by games like Rock Band, which featured a full-band lineup and led to Guitar Hero doing the same thing on next World Tour, which continued to take the series in an upward direction. Still, Guitar Hero III set the stage and solidified a few heshers with it.

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