Guitar Hero III for the PC

My Review: 5

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I think Guitar Hero, the series of games from Red Octane, kicks motha-flippin’ ass. I love to rock out, it’s simple and fun. So I am not going to review Guitar Hero in general; everyone already knows that it rules.

Instead I am going to review, specifically, GH3 for the PC.

I don’t own a gaming console. I know, it’s crazy, my bad. For a techno-weenie geek-boy to not own a gaming console is like a Kansas City holy-roller only owning one bible. Not normal.

Nevertheless, I don’t own a gaming console. I’ve played GH2 on the Xbox 360 with friends, and played GH3 on the Wii. I had a lot of fun, but I didn’t want to sink $400-$700 into owning a console so that I could play one game. However, I did recently build my own PC. My buddy Jeff helped me put together a custom computer. This was my first time building my own machine. I bought all the components, installed everything, the works. Jeff helped. Here are the major stats:

  • NZXT Apollo mid-tower computer case
  • Antec Tru-Power Trio TP3-550W power supply
  • Intel Core 2 Duo 2.66 GHz processor
  • Asus P5E-VM DO motherboard
  • Corsair XMS2 240-pin DDR2 memory (4 x 1 GB)
  • 2, Asus 18x lightscribe DVD-RW burners
  • Nvidia GeForce 8400 Graphics card w/ 512 MB dedicated video memory
  • 2, 7200 rpm Seagate 500GB hard drives in a RAID 1 (hardware RAID)

Being as I have a brand-new bad-ass mother-jammer (three hyphenated double-words in a row, yes!) I figured maybe I should search for whether there is a PC version of Guitar Hero 3. Wouldn’t that be cool? Maybe it’s nicer to rock out in front of your television, but I do have a 22″ widescreen LCD monitor, so that’s not too bad. Since I already built the computer anyway, this seemed like a cheaper and more reasonable alternative.

So, 1 or 2 Google search results later, lo and behold there is a version of GH3 for the PC.

180px-aspyr-logo.gif Aspyr, a gaming company, contracted with Red Octane to port a version of GH3 for the Mac and the PC. Sweet. Better yet, on my routine visit to Costco the next day they are selling the PC version. Right there at Costco. Life is good again.

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So, now I have a sweet machine and the video game I’ve been drooling over. How does it all stack up? Not that great.

It’s not terrible, but I have some deep concerns. For one thing, it stutters a little bit. When you are playing a musical game that depends on your being able to follow the rhythm of the song, stuttering present a pretty big issue.

The minimum system requirements for the graphics card list a “Video Card: 3D Hardware Accelerator Card Required – 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible 128 MB Video Memory.” They recommend 256 MB video card. Mine is a 512 MB card, and it still stutters. The only way I could find to mitigate the stutter was to lower the graphics resolution in the game options to the minimum setting. This did not wipe out all the stuttering, but it did help enough so that the game is playable. Yay.

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Now Guitar Hero is not really a graphics intensive game, and truthfully I don’t really notice the difference all that much. However, I think it is totally lame that it was necessary to lower the resolution to the minimum. My new computer meets or exceeds all the other system requirements in addition to the graphics card. That tells me that the problem is probably not my system. I think it much more likely that Aspyr did not make a very good port.

It is also possible that Red Octane did not do as good of a job with GH3 as they did with GH 1 and 2. Harmonix (who is now making Rock Band, a Guitar Hero competitor) did all the coding for GH 1 and 2. Red Octane contracted with a different company to code GH3 – that’s part of the reason that it looks significantly different from previous versions.  The new company coded it up pretty fast, and perhaps they didn’t do as good of a job.  I have seen stutters on GH3 even on the Wii, though not as bad as what I experienced with the PC.

Another bone I have to pick is the controller.  The guitars for all other versions of Guitar Hero 3 are wireless.  Not so for the PC version.  In fact, the guitar for PC is actually the Xbox 360 guitar for Guitar Hero 2, right down to the little Xbox logo.  That is pretty lame.  I can (sort of) understand using a wired guitar on the first version, probably simplified a few things.  But at least give me my own guitar, and not one that has Xbox symbols on it.

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Apparently Aspyr has released a patch for the game, patch #1.1, and it is supposed to resolve certain issues. I am going to download it and try it out, but I am not overly optimistic.  I supposed any port is likely to work less perfectly than the original.  And it honestly  isn’t that bad.  It’s just not great either.  Not the experience I was hoping for anyway.  So, because it is mediocre, it gets a solid 5 out of 10.

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1 comment so far

  1. Jeremy Toeman on

    buy an Xbox 360 already! and get Rock Band. it… rocks.


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