RedOctane’s Guitar Hero was a surprising hit on the PlayStation 2 in which you use a mini Gibson SG guitar as a controller to strum to a collection of fantastic rock songs.
As with all rhythm games, pressing the right buttons at the right time is crucial when playing in Guitar Hero II.
For those who haven’t experience the wonders of this guitar-based video game, let me explain how to play. There are five coloured ‘fret’ buttons on the neck (green, red, yellow, blue, and orange in descending order) with a “strum bar,” and a whammy bar. Each rock song is presented as a set of five columns that scroll constantly. The five columns correspond to the five fret buttons.
To play a note, you must hold the correct fret button and press the strum bar. If you mistimed the strumming too early or late or not at all, then the three-staged “Rock Meter” will decrease…. The Rock Meter is an indication of how well you are performing and the crowd’s general opinion of your rock act. The meter’s stages are coloured red, yellow and green, in order of success. If the meter goes too far into the red, it will begin to blink red as a means of warning. If the meter is totally diminish, then you have failed the song… The meter can be restored little by little by playing notes correctly.
To play the single notes, all you need to do is to strum once. But for longer notes, an initial strum followed by a continued depression of the fret button is needed – as long as the note lasts.
As for chords this involve pressing two or more fret buttons at a time. Additionally, Guitar Hero II supports common guitar concepts such as the hammer-on and the pull-off just like playing the real instrument.
To enhance the gaming experience further, a new feature named ‘Star Power’ involves tilting the guitar controller upward, enabling more bonus points.
To reach this mode, you must accumulated from either successfully playing a sequences of special Star Notes or using the whammy bar on long Star Notes.
So we covered the basis of learning to play, now what about the selection of rock anthems to play in the new game?
To be honest, I find the choices of songs lacking compared to the original. In the original there was a magnificent range of tracks on offer including Deep Purple, Boston, Black Sabbath, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimi Hendrix and Ozzy Osbourne. But with Guitar Hero II, it seems to be missing that magical ‘edge’… This is surprising as there are some great bands featured in the new version like Rage Against the Machine, Guns N’ Roses, The Rolling Stones, Megadeth, Foo Fighters and Nirvana.
So what’s new in Guitar Hero II? Well, there’s a practice mode that allows you to prefect a specific section of a song you want, at any speed you want. The songs are broken down piece by piece, and you can pick any starting and stopping section you choose to wish.
As for multiplayer mode, this has been improved significantly – but it still lacks online play…. Nevertheless, playing with a second guitar creates more fun and instead of trading off sections of a song with one another, the new version lets both guitarists perform through the entire song together –as a lead and bass.
In terms of game play, Guitar Hero II feels the same. And yet, I must admit the encores – when the crowd demand that one final song – is a nice atmospheric feature.
The only criticisms will be track selection and the difficulty level when advancing through (it becomes harder for even the most experienced Guitar Hero fans). Despite that, if you looking for an entertaining rhythm based party game who enjoy the rock and roll scene, then pick up the ‘axe’ and prepare to rock to your heart content!