Guitar Hero 2
key review info
- Game: Guitar Hero 2
- Platform: Playstation
- Gamepad support: N/a
- Reviewed on:
- Show system requirements
This is a game for all of you rockers out there! Ever dreamed of having your own band and performing in front of an enthusiastic audience? Got skills in the guitar field and don't know what to do with them? Buying an electric guitar that's real quality is somewhat of a dream for a teenager nowadays, but RedOctane has found the perfect solution: Guitar Hero II. It comes with a guitar, ladies and gentlerockers, a joystick designed by the producer especially for this game. If I was a guitar player in a major rock band and saw this game I would start trembling, because all those kids out there will start making bands of their own in no time. In case you get stuck while playing the game feel free to check out some tips and hints here.
Concept & Gameplay
It's pretty basic with Guitar Hero II: it's one of the productions that rely mainly on the gameplay and less on the graphics. Unpack that sweet, sweet guitar, hold the fret tight in your hand while playing with the pedal in the anticipation of the kickass concerts to come. Watch the short cartoonish cutscene from the start and see a couple of rockers and a "dudette" trying to fit in by doing all sorts of tricks with her neat guitar. Afterwards, you're taken directly to the flashy menu of Guitar Hero II.
You may want to choose the Career Mode if you want to unlock a couple of new songs to have fun with. If you're in a hurry and you've waited for this game for ages, Quick Play is the right option for you. Keep your pants on cowboy and keep reading if you think this is too easy! Well, I thought that GH II was easy too, and I started the Quick Play mode with arrogance by selecting the medium difficulty and the normal speed. Mission impossible, that's all I can say! I barely got a note right...
Thank God for that neat tutorial you have in the main menu. A cool voice will teach you the basics of the game, with diagrams and examples. The lessons will be interactive and you'll be able to do what the advising voice says. What's the system in Guitar Hero II? My first impression was that all you needed to do was push those colored buttons in order to get the notes right. Well it's that and pushing the big white rectangular button near the guitar's pedal. And when I say pushing, I mean strumming. When you'll do this for the first time, it'll feel very much like the first touch of a guitar, especially for those that have done that.
The true gameplay features appear when you're actually playing the songs available in this title. Glittering colored dots will scroll across the screen and you'll have to get them right by matching the dots from the base of the screen with those that make the combinations required to do solos or sing the main tune. There are two types of rockers: those who brag about their guitar skills and sing according to tablatures and those quiet ones that can sing a "Seek and Destroy" from Metallica with their eyes open, by playing chords. In GH II you'll be playing chords by holding down two or three notes at the same time. They can be basic notes or long notes. Speaking of which, one of the coolest features in the second installment of Guitar Hero is the use of the pedal, called Whammy Bar. It will usually add crazy effects to the long notes, usually the so-called "wah wah!" or a very high note during a solo, anyway stuff that Slash from Guns 'n Roses does all the time.
I'm sure that you'll jump around and throw your guitar in the air or at least lift the guitar neck and play it in a vertical position. Well, it seems that RedOctane knew what rockin' was all about and thought about the poses we, rockstars, need while playing in front of the crowd. There will be certain sequences that require you to hold the guitar straight up and I guess that there's some sort of sensor inside, since you get lots of bonuses when you do that. This will happen when your Star Power bar is at least half-full.
What's the deal with Star Power? Well, there are a couple of on-screen indicators and this is one of them. There's a rock meter that shows how satisfied the crowd is with your performance and on the left side, you'll see a score meter, so aim for the best! Back to the Star Power meter, you should check out the scrolling notes to see that some of them are star-shaped. If you get a series of star-notes right, you'll make the crowd go wild and get lots of bonuses by holding the guitar up. After the show's over and you'll be sweatier than Ozzy after a pigeon-eating fest, you might want to check out your ratings. You'll get a grade, a number of stars (5 is the max), you'll also see how many points you got and the longest correct note streak. Also, the percentage of notes you got right in the whole song will be displayed.
All the stuff I said till now was pure theory and if you want to get things going, you should start the Career Mode. Pick one of the characters and you'll maybe like a skinny angry punk-rocker girl, a massive block with a bad attitude or a tiny slim punker with a big mohawk. Select a cool name for your band, something that can easily be chanted while the crowd's screaming for an "encore". After that, it's guitar selecting time and you'll see the finest Gibson models around, a Les Paul, a Flying V, there's even a double-six in there!
There's no Mister Superstar! You can be any of the band members and even play the bass or rhythm guitar. Most of you will go for the lead guitar, because of the character's charisma and hype around him/her. There are, however, some fans that will play the bass in the background laying low while the lead man gets the credit. Some day you'll get tired of this and by taking up the Practice Mode from the main menu, you'll see what real guitar is all about and kick the lead man out of the band, taking his place. I'm not trying to start a mutiny, but with all those bands breaking up nowadays, even a game had to have this groovy feature.
You'll be traveling to all of the famous locations in the US for concerts that bring your more fans and cash, used to unlock new songs, guitars or characters in the Guitar Hero Shop. Visit New York for a crazy audience, Seattle for the candles in the air or Chicago for a flaming pogo atmosphere. Did I mention the songs? How could I have forgotten about that!? They rock!, capital "R" and they might be oldies like "Message in a bottle" from The Police or latest hits like "Beast and the harlot" from Avenged Sevenfold. Guns 'n Roses, Aerosmith, Anthrax, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, they're all here with their hardcore hits or teary ballads.
There's only one thing worth mentioning here: heart-warming experience. While you're playing a song, you'll see people in the crowd waving their lighters, hopping around or booing if you're really bad. Also, the band members will jump and do a lot of head-banging. Quick solos and facial expressions that match the songs will surely get you in the right rocking mood. It puzzled me to see that the guy on the screen was playing the exact same thing that I was and there's a lot of movement on the stage when the concert reaching its climax. Everyone's clapping, singing along or jumping to the rhythm of the music.
After you'll unlock a few songs in the medium or hard levels, the crowd will ask for an "encore" every once in a while and you'll have to please them by performing cool famous songs like "Sweet Child o' Mine". It's insanely fun to see the manager's advice on the screen, stuff related to sound problems or the drummer feeling ill (the drummer is always ill). I could complain about the loading times if they weren't accompanied by pieces of pure "rockin' wisdom", stuff that has to do with getting drunk, dealing with demented fans of the usual crazy stuff that rockstars do.
Guitar Hero II is a standalone music player and you'll use it for such purposes in the breaks between major concerts. Listen to all of those famous songs that rocked the world, from the sixties till today. Stuff like "War Pigs" from Black Sabbath or "Killing In The Name" from Rage Against the Machine can make any rocker's heart go "Dum!", "Dum!". Power that with a guitar and we've got ourselves a musical climax. What's more, you'll hear a note done wrong, because it will pretty much mess up the entire melodic line of the song. If you ruin it, the crowd boos and there are annoying sounds to be heard if you miss a note. However, if you're good enough and fit the profile of a rising star, the audience starts clapping, screaming out your name or singing along. After that comes the "encore", the female lingerie throwing, the throwing up and the autograph session, just a normal day for an average bad boy star. Over 55 songs will blow your mind and kill your fingers, making Guitar Hero II a game with a pretty decent lifespan.
It might surprise you to see that you can play Guitar Hero II with the normal analog joystick as well, but it will be a tad more difficult to get the notes right if you're using the shoulder buttons. You might want to try the cooperative mode, the competitive mode or the pro face-off. In Face-Off Mode, two players will compete against each other by playing the same notes and adjusting the difficulty settings. Cooperative Mode will allow you to team up two people and form a mini-band in an attempt to get a high-score. One of you can play the bass or rhythm guitar, while the more experienced one gets to play the lead guitar. Finally, in the Pro Face-Off Mode, you'll see the two gamers battling while playing the same notes, on the same difficulty level, each struggling to get a higher score.
No Playstation 2 game has ever been so fun and I think that we've just found a gold mine! Reach for your guitar and strum it gently, using your imagination to be taken to a legendary concert. Who's the star? It might be you now that you've the skills, the attitude, the gear and the experience. RedOctane has already started a couple of contests for the Guitar Hero fans and fanatics and who knows, maybe in the future installment we'll see a free-play mode that will allow us to create our own songs.