When I first heard that a PC-port of Guitar Hero III was on its way, I was ecstatic. I refused to think about how terrible Aspyr ports tend to be, and I just took it for what it was: the best thing, in my opinion, about console gaming coming to PC. I no longer would have to look upon my friends' Xbox 360s longingly.
Then the bad news: it would come with the Xplorer guitar instead of the lovely new wireless Les Paul. If you haven't used the new Les Paul, you won't be as heartbroken, but trust me: it is a huge difference. It's akin to using an Epiphone instead of a Gibson.
And more bad news. Apparantly Guitar Hero III is a system hog; even top of the line rigs used by IGN for their reviews had stuttering issues and low framerates at times. My system is far from bad, but my 8800 GTS and AMD 5000+ couldn't touch their rigs. Stuttering would make any rhythm game unplayable; worthless. I decided not to buy it.
Fast-forward a couple of weeks. I'm in Best Buy looking at LCD monitors and I see Guitar Hero III for PC. A mere mortal, I cannot resist. I get home, install the game, and plug the guitar in. I already have an Xbox 360 controller for windows, so I didn't even need to install new drivers for the guitar. It loads, and I go to quick play to try out a song; I am surprised.
The game runs flawlessly, nary a hickup, with a very high framerate, graphics and physics on high, at 1600 x 1200. In short, it is even better than the console versions. Why was my experience so different than that of reviewers, and many other people? Probably because I keep my drivers up to date religiously, and had the 169.17 (nvidia) beta drivers installed; I think I read on some forums that these improve performance in Guitar Hero. Also, I have a lovely Creative Xi-fi Xtremegamer card (which I heartily recommend) which probably helps out a bit.
Lower-end rigs will probably struggle, as is always the case with PC games. Is this fair? Shouldn't some of the worst computers be able to do something that a ps2 can? Of course; the fact that this is a system-hog at all is due to it being a lazy port. On a medium to high-end rig, does it show? Not at all. It runs like a dream; better than on consoles. If you are a PC gamer, with a nice rig, do not hesitate to buy this: It will be perfect. On lower-end systems, I would recommend trying to find a way to demo it to see how it runs. As there is no demo yet available, I can't exactly support any means of trying this out unless your friends has a copy, but do what you must.
As of yet, there are no mods available for Guitar Hero III. But I imagine they will come in time, and then this will surely be the ultimate version of Guitar Hero III. Until then, you can download Frets on Fire for some more (free) fun with your Xplorer guitar.
Something which surprised me, since, as a PC gamer, I'm not used to it, is multiplayer. You can play with a friend; one using a guitar, one using keyboard. I imagine if I plugged in another guitar, it'd work as well. I don't have one, so I can't test it out. This is a great feature, and I'm impressed that Aspyr included it with the PC version. The online multiplayer seems a little buggy, and I haven't been able to connect to any games. I've seen complaints about it on other forums and reviews. As this is not a priority for me, I can't really dock points from my review because of it, and I imagine it will be fixed in upcoming patches.
Cons: Weak online multiplayer; a system-hog; Xplorer guitar instead of Les Paul.
Pros: On a good rig, even better than console version; possibility of mods; good multiplayer if you have a friend over, $20 cheaper than other versions.
Edit: I would just like to add that, upon updating my drivers to 169.21, I started receiving stuttering and lagging like reviewers and others have mentioned. That proves it; any problems with this are driver related, and not actually a problem with the game itself. For the time being, I'd recommend 169.13 or 169.17 for best use with GHIII. With time, I'm sure all drivers will have it running great.