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On Being First To Beat The Most Difficult Song in Guitar Hero III
Posted on Friday, October 5 2007 @ 19:52:51 Eastern

The Duke jammed out a manifesto on GameRevolution about it, so I'll just give some personal commentary of the feat. I'm not going to brag or prattle or show you some chakra skills. Instead, I'll start how most stories start -- at the beginning.

Activision held a press event for Guitar Hero III at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco, and being only three and a half weeks fresh in my editor shoes, I was still quite a n00b, though I tried not to let that get to me as much as it did at the EA Gamers Day event. In fact, I had a short chat with Brad Shoemaker from GameSpot, and so I felt redeemed from the awkward moment we had during the EA event.

The showcase was separated into two rooms: one for the Xbox 360 version and one for the Wii and PS3. I walked passed the open bar (free drinks!), went to the Xbox 360 room and every station was rightfully taken, so I walked past the bar again, and headed for the other room.

There, no one was playing at the very first station, so I decided to take up the spot. I immediately went into "Free Play" mode and tried my hand at the Expert songs on the last few tiers, just to see how much more difficult it was. I was able to four-star "3's and 7's" by Queens of the Stone Age and "The Number of the Beast" by Iron Maiden on my first try. Some people were watching me as I played it, commented on how crazy I was, and then challenged me to do "Raining Blood" by Slayer.

I failed, mostly because I activated star power in the wrong place. The small crowd left and I began to chill out on "One" by Metallica. Passed that quite calmly.

One thing you should note about me is that when I play Guitar Hero, I'm rather stoic - especially if I'm concentrating and totally in the zone. I don't even see what I'm doing as amazing, since I do it all the time, and I know I can improve. So whenever someone gives me praise, I'm respectful and humble about it. I play Guitar Hero to challenge myself, and though it's cool to impress people with it, I'm pretty zen about it. Besides, GameSpot's Slunks playing Jordan on Expert (pretty much) without looking at the freakin' screen is the most godly thing I've seen yet. One thing that sets me apart from most is that I can usually get through any song in one or two tries - which is good at events like these that last only for about three hours.

So let me not be modest on my achievement any more than it needs to be.

And before I go further, a note to whoever plans these Guitar Hero III events for Activision:

Please do not serve buttered popcorn. They are anti-fret.

After clearing most of the difficult Expert songs, including "Raining Blood", Mike C - the lead designer for the Wii - heard that I was pretty good and had me play an Wi-Fi face-off with another person. I said okay and just let things come, but I felt bad, because the other dude play was playing on Medium. Maybe Mike C saw that I wasn't comfortable with it. Whatever the case, I was challenged by him to get through the most difficult song in the game: "Through The Fire And Flames" by Dragonforce.

I tried it and failed twice. The beginning solo is ridiculous, consisting of just waves of two-note hammer-ons. Mike C tried to relieve me of some embarrassment, commenting that the beta testers had to use an elastic band around for the green button just to get through that section.

But I was determined. And so on the third try, I was able to get through the opener and tear my way through the song. Pull-offs and hammer-ons are easier in Guitar Hero III, which helped me get through the solos (wait... what am I talking about?... the entire song is a solo), but that only made RedOctane feel fine making the notes as insane as possible. As the crowd gathered around me, I got somewhat nervous, though truthfully, I was mostly angry with myself. Star power kept on activating when I didn't want it to, because I held the guitar a bit higher than I usually did. And thus, my downfall... only 90% complete.

Needless to say, I was steaming behind all the wows. Sure, completing 90% on Dragonforce is a feat in itself, but I knew I could, you know, beat the darn thing. I would not my ninja teachers down.

I went into the shadows and practiced on the PS3. And every time, I would get owned and re-owned by the opening section. The buttons aren't as snappy as the ones on the Wii, but I knew it wasn't a complaint that held much water. So I went back to the Wii version and started anew.

On my first try (fourth attempt), I got through the opener and felt like this was the one. The crowd started to gather around me again, and I got into the zone. I didn't care what barrage of shuriken-like notes came at me. I would complete it, and I did. At the end, I had the kind of moment which all Guitar Heroes dream about: praise on a job well done on a job you know is well done.

Here's proof.

So now, I wait for the next person to beat "Through The Fire And Flames" with four, no five, stars. If that person is not already a ScoreHero. As delivered by Neil Wood, Public Relations officer for Activison, I was honored to be (reportedly) challenged by one of the ScoreHeroes at the event. I declined the offer at the time, since I'm not a competitive person by nature. But until Slunks beats it backwards (no pressure, dude), I will be glad to accept it, if any such offer comes my way again.

I mean, just a little Guitar Hero never hurt anyone, right?

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