Review by Misfit119

"Guitar Hero 1 is an easily accessible rhythm game, but it is only a mediocre game."

Earlier this year, I picked up Guitar Hero 2 and I was immediately enraptured with the game. So after playing the holy heck out of it, I came to the realization that I wanted more Guitar Hero. Not just to keep playing the second game, but I was going to pick up the first game and play that one too. I figured that there was no way that it could do wrong, with the small exception that I knew it would lack to the cooperative play. Not a biggie I figured… boy was I wrong.

Guitar Hero has very little in the ways of a storyline. You make a band, pick a character and what guitar they are going to use and then you try to make it big. Why you would choose to use cover songs to make it big, I'm not quite sure, but regardless, the idea works. It's a simple plot for a fairly engrossing game that gives you all the excuse you need to jam out to some of the more popular songs out there in a career mode of sorts without getting bogged down by unnecessary story.

You will get the chance to play older songs, such as Spanish Castle Magic to newer songs, like Fat Lip by Sum 41. There are a wide variety of types of songs in this game, and while they are all rock songs, you will find anything from alternative to punk rock. So while some people will obviously balk at some of the music or flat out dislike some of the songs, there should be at least three or four tracks that get your feet tapping along. This game also has the added benefit of having more popular songs by these musicians, whereas its successor has a very odd song selection in many ways.

Control in Guitar Hero is a very simple thing. Using the special guitar controller, you have a variety of buttons that you will use to play the songs. You have five fret buttons, green, red, yellow, blue and orange in descending order, the strum button, whammy bar and the tilt sensor in the controller used to enter star power mode. I will explain how each of these work.

When playing the game, you will see a scrolling board on the screen with five colored circles on the bottom; each of these colors represents one of the buttons on your controller. As the song plays, these colors will come scrolling down the board and you will have to hold down the respective fret button on your controller and press the strum button. This plays a note and helps you build up a point multiplier. By playing these notes in succession, you can build up to a four times multiplier, a necessary thing if you are going for a high score. Sometimes the notes will instead be a chord, which requires that you hold down the fret button through the entire notes duration to get the most points and avoid having the music cut out.

The whammy bar and tilt sensor are used for another aspect of the game. As you are playing, you will notice that some of the notes have a spinning star shape instead of a circular one. When you hit all of these star power notes that appear in succession you will have ¼ of your star power meter filled. Should you instead hit a star power chord, you can press on the whammy bar and extract extra star power energy. This lets you fill up the bar faster than simply hitting the notes. Once you have half the bar filled you can initiate star power mode by tilting the guitar controller upwards. In this mode, all of the icons glow a blue color and your multiplier will be doubled. You can acquire lots of points in this mode and it is integral to getting five stars on the songs you are playing.

Getting five stars on each song nets you the most money from each song you play. By getting money from playing songs you can unlock things from the in game store. These range from bonus tracks, to new guitars and guitar skins to new characters. There is nothing all that great to be unlocked though, beyond the novelty of the hidden characters. Sadly, unlocking stuff in career mode doesn't unlock it for any difficulty other than the one you visited the shop on. So you have to actually unlock the characters and guitars on each difficulty. It's a minor nuisance, but it really got to me.

Graphically the game is nothing special and nothing all that bad. They get the job done is really the best that can be said. While the characters aren't the greatest looking ever, they are still fun to watch them bounce around on stage jamming out, especially when you use star power. The venues are interesting and imaginative, ranging from someone's basement to a giant stadium venue.

The audio is perhaps one of the biggest draws to this game and it doesn't disappoint. Except for the bonus tracks, all of the songs are cover songs. So while its disappointing not to hear Ozzy singing Bark at the Moon as you play, it does make sense in the context of the game. You are afterall a cover band, so it makes sense that the singing and music sound different from the famous tracks we all know and love. However, even the cover songs are really awesome and fun to listen to and play.

However, the gamplay isn't really all that compelling or fun. Many of the songs are very repetitive in this game and you will find yourself playing the same couple notes over and over for alot of them. It makes sense as the songs are fairly repetitive, but it makes the game get somewhat boring fairly quickly. Also, some of the later songs feel more flat out frustrating than they do difficult, especially on the higher difficulties.

Perhaps I made a drastic mistake playing Guitar Hero 2 before I played the first one. Honestly, I'm not sure. I liked the second far more than the first one, but if I had played the first I may not have bothered with the second. As it stands, the second one has an honored place in my gaming collection, and memories, while the first one is more of an interesting footnote. Get the second one before you pick this one up, it is a far better game and it has the fun co-op mode.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/22/07, Updated 02/22/07


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