Review by Sour
"It's like Squeedly Vs. Meedly over here!"
Story: 8/10: It's a pretty solid storyline but there's not much too it. In career mode you play as a cover band covering various big songs from equally big artists, such as MegaDeth or AC/DC. You start off playing small-time venues, and work your way up the ladder to becoming world-famous rock stars. Again there's not much here with really no character depth, but it works and that's all that the game needs. So pick up that guitar and get ready to rock out all the way to the top!
Game-play: 10/10: Here's where the game really shines, depending on the person of course. Guitar Hero is a rhythm game, where you press a series of buttons to the beat of the song. Dance Dance Revolution would gain this genre notoriety, but Guitar Hero really made it explode. You use a special guintroller that resembles a guitar. You have the strum bar which sits in the middle of the body of the guitar, and five buttons along the fretboard. When you select which song you want to play, it will start up and you'll be witnessing on the screen what's called a "highway". This is an endless, scrolling fretboard. As the highway scrolls, colored "notes" will be scattered along it to the tune of the song. When the note reaches the strike line (five circles corresponding with the five buttons), you must hold down the button indicated and strum. There are four difficulties: Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert. Easy mode makes it so that notes for only the first three buttons will come down the highway. Medium requires use of the first four buttons, and both Hard and Expert require the use of all five buttons. In addition to making you use more of the buttons, there will be more notes as you go up in difficulty and the highway will scroll slightly faster. Hitting the notes will make your rock meter (an indicator off to the side that resembles a fuel gauge) fill up, and missing notes will lower the gauge. There are three levels on the gauge. Green, yellow, and red. The song always starts off with the meter in the middle of the yellow. Hitting enough notes will cause the meter to go into the green. If you miss too many, you'll end up in the red. Miss too many more while already being in the red, and you'll fail the song. They also went through the trouble of making the audience react depending on how high your rock meter is. Doing well enough will prompt them to cheer, and doing badly will cause them to boo.
In addition to the regular notes, some of them will have a star shape. They appear in small groups known as "Star Phrases". If you hit every note in a star phrase, your star power meter will increase a little bit. Once you've completed two star phrases in a song, you'll have the option to use star power. To activate star power you can either tilt the guitar, or press the select button. A lot of people prefer the latter option because tilting the guitar can be distracting for some as it requires you to move a lot. Once star power is activated, notes will be worth double the points, thus helping increase your rock meter much faster, assuming you hit the notes. This can be a lifesaver in some tricky parts. And since it makes notes worth double the points, that means your multiplier is doubled. The more you hit notes in succession, you'll build up a multiplier. Notes start off as being worth a set number of points. Upon hitting enough notes in a row, you'll get a 2x multiplier. Keep that up and you'll get a 3x multiplier, all the way up to 4x. With Star Power, the base multiplier is 2x, followed by 4x, then 6x, and finally 8x. Do well enough and you can keep a 4x/8x multiplier going for the whole song, resulting in a tremendous score. Upon completing a song, you'll get a rating for how well you did, ranging from three to five stars. Aside from the score, what also factors into the ratings system is the percentage of notes that you hit. You'll have to practice and do well to get the coveted five stars and should you hit 100% of the notes, known as a Full Combo or "FC", you'll receive five gold stars.
Graphics: 8/10: The graphics here aren't anything phenomenal. The characters are smooth, perhaps a bit too smooth, although they all have their distinguishing features so you'll be able to tell them apart. The graphics aren't horrible by any means, but future installments and other PS2 games in general would go on to look much better.
Sound: 10/10: Another section of the game that really shines. You have an excellent soundtrack to pick from and it sounds great, as it should. Most of the songs are from bands that are or were once huge. The likes of which include Kansas and Lynard Skynard. You'll find heavy metal as well, with bands like MegaDeth or Anthrax. They even put the well-known song Trogdor, sung by Strongbad from the popular animated web series Homestar Runner. They picked an excellent lineup for this game as they typically do. Most everyone can find a song by a band they love or like in this game, it has something for everyone, especially if you like more than one different genre of rock.
Overall: 8/10: This may seem like a relatively low score but it's still a great game nonetheless. I was pointing out flaws just for the sake of pointing them out. Few games are perfect and this certainly isn't one of them. Still, it's a fantastic game and if you like rhythm games and rock music, you should definitely get yourself a copy of this game, and heck, every other Guitar Hero! They're great fun and will challenge you, especially on the harder difficulties. But don't worry, you'll get there!
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/15/10, Updated 07/06/10
Game Release: Guitar Hero II (US, 11/07/06)
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