Pros: Great music, great gameplay, easy to pick up. Loads of fun
Cons: Ho-hum graphics
The Bottom Line: Simply put, Guitar Hero II is a must-have for Xbox 360 console owners. Easy to learn and fun to play, this is a good kind of addiction.
Everyone wants be a rock star. Even those who say they dont are lying. At one time or another, everyone has wished they were a rock star. And this is where Red Octanes Guitar Hero II comes in. You have the chance to be that rockstar you always wanted to be. Does it deliver the goods? Does it strike a chord with players?
Read on, dear reader....
Story There really isnt a story except to say that you are the guitarist for an up and coming cover band. You start in gymnasiums and work your way up to playing sold-out amphitheaters. And thats it. There is no narrative. Nor does this game really call for one. It works as is.
Gameplay If youre ever played Dance Dance Revolution, youll know the basics of Guitar Hero II. But the cool part is that the game comes with a guitar. Not a real one, but a special guitar shaped controller with buttons on the neck, a strum bar (in lieu of strings) and a whammy bar to make cool sounds. It even comes with a strap.
When youre playing the game, youll see a 3D view of a guitar neck. Once the music plays and the song calls for guitar, buttons will come toward you. When they hit the end of the neck, you press the corresponding button on the guitar and hit the strum bar. Sounds easy, right? Well it gets very difficult as the notes and chords come fast and furious.
The notes thrown at you do a very good job of replicating the actual music in the song. While the buttons are not note for note accurate, they are darn close, considering theyre working with only 5 buttons. Its quite cool to be playing along with songs you are very familiar with and getting a better idea as to how the songs were originally constructed.
As youre on stage playing, you are constantly being judged by the console. If you miss notes, youll get an unpleasant sound, click, or beep and the note you were supposed to play wont. Keep missing notes and your overall Rock rating will decline. As well, the audience will let you know what they think of you. If your Rock ratting stays in the red too long youll fail the song altogether and have to try again.
But when failure occurs, you are given the option to practice. I found this to be extremely helpful after difficult songs. To aid you in mastering the song, you can slow down the playback. Very helpful and user-friendly. This ensures that almost anyone can pick up the game and play it.
The difficulty goes from very easy to impossibly difficult. At least for me anyway. The Expert setting uses all kinds of chords and all the buttons on the neck. I suspect a real guitar player wouldnt have such a tough time, but Im not a guitar player. Though this game certainly gives you the feeling that you are. And in this regard the game is a whopping success.
No game would be complete without some kind of score. For each note you get right you get points. Keep playing notes correctly, and you can get multipliers to really jack your score up. But it gets even better. Some series of notes are in the shape of stars. Play the entire series correctly and your rock star meter fills. Want to fill it faster? Wiggle the whammy bar on long star notes and youll get even more in your rock star meter. Once you hit half way, you can unleash your rock star power and get a huge multiplier. To do this, simply, tilt the guitar up. Yes, the guitar also has motion detection!
Graphics Guitar Hero II is not a graphically challenging game. It doesnt call for amazing graphics and complex details. However it does deliver graphics that are fun and innovative. The whole time you are playing, your band is displayed in the background. The character that represents you is playing along and actually plays the notes as you play the, The lead singer sings the correct song. Its actually quite interesting artistically. The game is colorful and fast moving and never hits any problems with framerate. The graphics are certainly good enough, but they wont be a showpiece.
Sound The meat and potatoes of this game is music. And with over 60 songs, this game delivers. Most of the songs I had heard of, but there were also some punk songs that I had not heard. Believe me, the game gets far more difficult when you dont know the song! Along those lines, only a couple of the songs are by the original artist. Most are covers, but they are very well done. I didnt know they were covers at first until my wife told me. As well, you can download more songs off Xbox Live, but they are little pricey at over $6 for 3 songs.
Multiplayer There is no multiplayer over Live, but on the box, you can do co-op with you and your friend playing either lead guitar or bass. You can also challenge your friend by seeing who can get the highest score on the same song at the same time. This is very fun and a real challenge when it comes time to play guitar and trash talk!
Parents Should Know This game is rated T for teen and is only offensive if you object to rock music. There is some stuff by Guns n Roses and I really wish my son would stop requesting Cherry Pie by Warrant. But other than that, its harmless.
Conclusion Simply put, Guitar Hero II is a must-have for Xbox 360 console owners. Easy to learn and fun to play, this is a good kind of addiction.
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About the reviewer
Jeffrey Kafer (jkafer)
Voice over artist specializing in audiobook narration. Hear more at http://audiobook-voice-over.com/ and http://JeffreyKafer.com
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RedOctane's follow-up to the critically acclaimed rhythm game, Guitar Hero II comes to Xbox 360 and features a huge track list, more venues and new play modes than in the original game, and a goal to rock longer and harder than its predecessor. In this new release RedOctane has once again teamed up with veteran music game developer Harmonix for the sequel, and is using famed recording studio WaveGroup for its music production, who also recorded the covers for the licensed tracks in the original Guitar Hero. Bundle includes wired X-Plorer style guitar controller, guitar strap and decals.
Live out your rock & roll dreams through a huge song list and range of venues. View larger.
The Next Chapter in the Guitar Hero Experience Rock the rhythm, lead, and bass guitar tracks in the follow-up sequel to Guitar Hero, now on Xbox 360. Form your guitar duo and shred riffs cooperatively or go head-to-head in all new multiplayer modes. With over 70 tracks to rock out to, you'll go from Guitar Hero to Guitar god in one press of a fret button. Choose from multiple rock characters and jam at concert venues that grow in size as your rock career progresses. You'll start your rock career playing small clubs and bars, but if you play ...