Guitar Hero II Review (Xbox360)

May the lords of rock be praised! Guitar Hero 2, RedOctane’s follow-up to the first real rock game on any console arrives for the 360 in magnificent 1080p, with all the extra features over the PS2 version. Rock on!

Expect to play songs from big names, unheard of bands, and some you haven’t heard since the 80’s. Scary
Rock lesson 1: No matter how bad you look, perform well and the audience will love you

First off, if you aren’t planning on using the guitar controller, also made by RedOctane, please reconsider playing the game. It is not the same experience in any way, shape or form. It’s only an extra thirty bucks, and with more sequels promised, it is a good investment.

GH2 is basically Dance Dance Revolution, but for your fingers, which is totally awesome if you are into playing any instrument. Fiddling with the guitar controller does take some time to get used to, but as the game states repeatedly, practice is important. Playing songs only once will never get you anywhere. Practice means you won’t have people ask you what you want to do with your life.

Like DDR, the campaign mode is fairly limited. Players are in a band looking to get sponsors. The better the performance, the more money earned, though it is perfectly feasible to go through the entire campaign without actually performing well. Then again, anyone who enjoys screwing up just to complete the campaign really picked up the wrong game.

The fun is in kicking ass on any given song. Every time a wrong note is played, the horrible screw-up sound plays to let you know, as well as an on screen shudder. This infinite reminder of your mistake will resonate in your ears until you keep screwing up and finally are forced to stop and wait for the best chance to get back into the song. That is, if you don’t know the song well enough.

Cords are an integral part to any musician. These are easy. Wait for the hard ones before complaining
Who can rock out better? Remind your friends who is the king…

However, it is annoying to hear this deafening cry of pain because many players don’t just look at the screen for cues on when to play notes, they listen in as well. If someone makes a mistake, the whole song goes down the drain for a moment, which can kill a large portion of the song for anyone. An option to have this effect only work during practice would be useful, especially since that sound would never come up in real life, unless whoever screwed up dropped their guitar. On a walrus.

Problem two is using the Star Power power-up. It is awesome that the guitar controller has motion sensing capabilities, but activating it when the song is difficult makes it all too easy to destroy your timing and push the wrong button at the wrong time. And doing that defeats the purpose of the multiplier, because when activating Star Power, its best when the multiplier is at its highest. Ruin that and the point is flushed away.
Beating the game isn’t a huge feat, unless it’s played on the hard or expert difficulty setting. On both easy and medium, successfully completing every song on the first try is very doable. It’s always better to practice the song beforehand, but it really isn’t necessary.

Put it on hard though, and now the fifth fret is used, more notes need to be played and, well, it’s hard. Up the difficulty any more and it can be considered suicide. It is not recommended to play on this difficulty unless you have previous play experience or you’re the Reaper! Seriously, it is amazingly difficult.

A major bummer was the lack of online gameplay, which has become the standard for almost all games these days. And getting all those multiplayer achievements is pretty hard if there isn’t someone else nearby to lend a hand. Thankfully, GH3 is going to have online play.

Just for kicks, anyone who thinks they can actually learn how to play a guitar from the game should be aware that they aren’t far off. After speaking to a few real musicians, all of whom can play the guitar, their impressions were generally the same. It’s good for building up the muscles in your forearm and getting you
used to playing the instrument, but it is still very amateurish because of the lack of strings. The jump from controller to guitar isn’t as far as from nothing to guitar, so feel privileged.

Or work on the same song together, one playing lead and the other on the bass
Change costumes, guitars, and characters to look as hideous or innocent as you like

Have flying fingers? Love rocking out? Need a game that will never get old? With over 70 songs, four difficulty settings, system multiplayer, and a nifty guitar controller, getting bored with this game would require some serious effort. Glad to have played it, and there’s nothing quite like destroying your friends while playing Jordan on expert, before losing a moment later because nobody can play that song.

Top Game Moment:
Getting the money to buy every extra song, then trying Jordan on expert without even having heard the song.

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