Video Games: Guitar Hero III

Get ready to flex your fingers – and your bank account – for the new 'Guitar Hero.'

"Guitar Hero II" was a breakthrough smash – a product that instantly revolutionized gaming culture. This newest edition doesn't bother toying around with the winning formula, but it is a solid product and a joy to play from beginning to end. The conceit is simple: Varying combinations of colored notes appear onscreen, across a rolling fretboard. Hit the corresponding buttons on a toy plastic guitar, and some familiar rock anthems, from Weezer's "My Name is Jonas," to Foghat's "Slow Ride," blare fluidly from your television's speakers. Miss a note, and you'll hear a loud clanking sound. It's rock-star instrumental karaoke for anyone who's ever dreamt of a gig under the bright stage lights. At my house, "Guitar Hero III" has become the de facto party trick – the game to play when conversation gets slow and there's nothing on TV. I've banged around on a guitar for 12 years – and even dabbled in a bad high school band – but this game is a thrill unto itself. Where else can you play songs by Ozzy, Sonic Youth, and Pearl Jam with the help of the original backing musicians? "Guitar Hero III" is available for Nintendo's Wii, Playstation2 and 3, and the Xbox360. The only drawback is the price – $99.99 for the Xbox and the PS3, and $89.99 for the PS2 and the Wii.

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