Activision's Guitar Hero Metallica

Thanks to over a billion dollars in revenue (and that's not even counting the World Tour sales), Activision's Guitar Hero franchise is here to stay. In fact, you'll see a brand new entry this spring called Guitar Hero Metallica. This compilation features several tracks from the thunderous Bay Area rockers, along with new modes that will let you know whether you're the "Master of Puppets" or "King Nothing."

All of the band's current members—Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, Robert Trujillo and James Hetfield—went through several hours of motion capture to bring their virtual selves to life. In the game's story mode, you'll follow them through significant locales, including The Stone nightclub in San Francisco, the Hammersmith Odeon and Tushino Airfield. Photos, videos and behind-the-scenes footage are also included, and the game adds a more realistic appearance than last year's Guitar Hero Aerosmith.

From what we've seen, Guitar Hero-philes will love the new expert drummer mode. Players will test their mettle through a series of songs. Furthermore, a second bass pedal was included, forcing drummers to worry about seven rhythm bars instead of six. We haven't played this yet, but considering how hard Ulrich pushes himself through performances, you should probably expect several endurance trials.

Thus far, we love the variety of songs. Several favorites are available, including "Wherever I May Roam," "Fuel," "Master of Puppets," "Enter Sandman" (previously available in Rock Band) and "No Leaf Clover." Other artists inspired by the band provide master tracks, including Bob Seger ("Turn the Page"), Lynyrd Skynyrd ("Tuesday's Gone") and Judas Priest ("Hell Bent For Leather"). There's no word yet if downloadable content will be available for the game, but Guitar Hero Metallica does support the downloadable Death Magnetic content, made available for Guitar Hero III and World Tour last year.

Fans of Guitar Hero World Tour's music creation mode will be happy to know that it makes a return in Guitar Hero Metallica. Players will still be able to create custom tracks with guitar and drum beats. Furthermore, custom instruments from Metallica band members will be available. James Hetfield provides sounds from his ESP Truckster guitar, Slayer's Tom Araya provides his ESP bass and Lars Ulrich lends some custom drum effects.

Battle Mode is back, so you can compete against friends online and in person. This time, however, the power-ups were tailor made for the group. You earn power-ups by completing flashing notes on the playfield. You can execute a number of moves, from Ride the Lightning (which overloads your opponent's guitar amp) to Trapped Under Ice (which freezes your whammy bar). Our favorite is Fade To Black, which removes all visible notes from the playfield. In the middle of a complicated song like "Hit the Lights," this easily turns the tide of a battle.

Guitar Hero Metallica fully supports online play for up to four players. You can use your World Tour instruments (or Rock Band instruments, depending on the platform) or invest a few extra dollars to buy Metallica-customized peripherals. No word yet on the cost of these accessories, but they should be about the same price as World Tour's.

With a new mode suited for experts and a variety of artists, Guitar Hero Metallica should be another excellent addition to the popular franchise when it arrives March 29th and appears leagues ahead of the limited Guitar Hero Aerosmith.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.