Guitar Hero II - PS2 Review
|15/11/2006||Activision||Harmonix Music Systems||1-2||PG||Variable|
Call it criminal. Call us fools. Sadly we here at Futuregamez.net didn't play the first Guitar Hero. It was a game which Activision launched in June 2006 to much critical acclaim - and much fanfare - following the stellar launch in America where the game, with controller, remained near the top of the charts for months. So while we never got to play the first title we were very keen to check out Guitar Hero II which has just hit Australian shelves.
|Two players jamming together.|
As with the original game Guitar Hero II can be purchased with a guitar controller (although it can also be bought without the controller). The guitar itself includes Start and Select buttons, five coloured Fret Buttons (where you hit the different notes), a Strut Bar (which mimics hitting the strings), and a Whammy Bar to add some effects to the longer notes. All-in-all this is a fantastic controller - possibly one of the best on the PS2 to date, and while it adds about $AU70 to the retail price ($AU149 - although some stores are selling the game with guitar for about $AU115 eg BIG W) it really gives this game a new identity. Also, if you purchased the original game, and buy this sequel with the guitar, you can expect some multi-player thrills.
Playing Guitar Hero II is simple. As the songs play the guitar riffs fall down the screen. It's your job to hold down the corresponding fret button, and then hit the strut bar as the notes pass the bottom of the screen. It's all about timing - miss the note and you'll start sounding terrible, and your Rock Meter will drop. Should it drop too far the song will end to the boos of the crowd and you'll need to restart. Certain notes allow you to increase your Star Power (the blue bar in the screenshots). When this reaches over half way you can physically move your guitar into a vertical position (or press the select button) to double the points you earn for each note for a period of time. Overall this is tremendous gameplay which can be played by anyone from novices to experts.
|The guitar controller.|
So what about the game modes then? Well newcomers may want to spend some time in the training mode which is split up into tutorials and practice. Impressively the practice mode allows you to take any song from the game, or a part of it, and then slow it down so you can master the correct fingering.
Next up you'll probably want to check out the Quick Play which lets you jump straight into the action - pick a song, a stadium and difficulty level and off you go. For most gamers however it will be the Career Mode that holds the most interest, and longevity. The first thing to do in Career is to pick your character, their guitar and name the band (profile). There are four difficulty levels to complete including Easy, Medium, Hard and Expert. The Easy level doesn't give you access to the Store to buy new items and equipment but it is an easy way to get into the songs, and unlock the first 28 to make them all available in the Quick Play Mode. The Easy and Medium difficulty levels are pretty straightforward, but when you hit hard you'll certainly start to struggle a little more and Expert - well, unless your some super god guitar player good luck!
|Hitting Maximum 4x points!|
Finally we come to what is one of the biggest selling points in this game multi-player. Fortunately while I only got one copy of the game and guitar my brother in law loved it so much he picked up a copy for himself so we can now battle it out. Guitar Hero II includes cooperative, face off and pro face off. The co-operative mode is pretty self explanatory in that players work together to complete the songs. Face off is a battle between two players and impressively the developers allow each player to select their own difficulty level while the pro face off sets both players the same difficulty level.
So what about the songs? Guitar Hero II includes remakes of the following licensed tracks:
Motley Crue - Shout at the Devil
Danzig - Mother
Cheap Trick - Surrender
Wolfmother - Woman
Spinal Tap - Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight
Kiss - Strutter
Nirvana - Heart-Shaped Box
Police - Message in a Bottle
Van Halen - You Really Got Me
Kansas - Carry on Wayward Son
Foo Fighters - Monkey Wrench
Alice in Chains - Them Bones
Iggy Pop and the Stooges - Search and Destroy
Pretenders - Tattooed Love Boys
Black Sabbath - War Pigs
Warrant - Cherry Pie
Butthole Surfers - Who Was in My Room Last Night
Mathew Sweet - Girlfriend
Rolling Stones - Can't You Hear Me Knockin'
Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine
Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name Of|
Primus - John the Fisherman
Sword - Freya
Thin Lizzy - Bad Reputation
Aerosmith - Last Child
Heart - Crazy on You
Stone Temple Pilots - Tripping on a Hole in a Paper Heart
Stray Cats - Rock This Town
Allman Brothers - Jessica
Jane's Addiction - Stop
Anthrax - Madhouse
Living End - Carry Me Home
Lamb of God - Laid to Rest
Reverend Horton Heat - Psychobilly Freakout
Rush - YYZ
Avenged Sevenfold - Beast and the Harlot
Suicidal Tendencies - Institutionalized
Dick Dale - Misirlou
Megadeth - Hangar 18
Lynyrd Skynyrd - Free Bird
While this game is an absolute joy to play I'm every so slightly disappointed in the music selection - it's mostly heavy rock music. I would have loved to hear some more variety. Artists such as Dire Straits, Tommy Emmanuel, Santana, Eric Clapton or, well, anything with Slash on guitars, would have added a bit more variety to the music styles. Another minor disappointment is the jump in difficulty from Medium to Hard which is pretty intense, certainly a much bigger jump in difficulty then from Easy to Medium. Still it just means we have to get a lot better!
|Each character looks fantastic.|
Graphically the game is pretty nice. The rock stadiums are lively enough with the crowds pumping and plenty of pyrotechnics. The characters in the bands are fantastic and not only correspond to what you're doing on the guitar but have their own movements. Impressively while the game supports Widescreen and Progressive mode there's also an option to calibrate the game for lag on HDTV's!
Audio in the title is pretty impressive. Rather then just stereo sound as I was expecting Guitar Hero II includes Dolby Pro Logic II support for an immersive experience. The music tracks themselves are stunning and are probably some of the best recreations of the original music as I've ever heard. In fact, we had a hard time picking some tracks from their originals! The music also gives you instant audio feedback if you miss a note, you'll definitely know it.
|One on rhythm, one on bass.|
Even for someone with almost no musical skills Guitar Hero II is a game which had me engrossed for days on end (it's amazing how one minute it's 10pm, and the next it's 1.30am and you have to be up for work in a couple of hours!). An essential purchase. Stunning.
Review By: Dave Warner
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
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|GRAPHICS||Presentation is solid, stadiums good, musical notes always clear.||80%|
|SOUND||Mainly rock based music, some good tracks and great quality overall.||86%|
|GAMEPLAY||One of the most entertaining games ever. We're absolutely hooked.||96%|
|VALUE||Around 50 tracks, with four difficulties levels and plenty to unlock.||95%|
|OVERALL||I thought the game would be good, but I was blown away. Addictive, fun, frantic, entertaining, and original. One of the greatest games of the current era.||92%|