Review by amlabella

"Turn those speakers up to 11, because it's time to rock!"

The life of a rock star: full of money, alcohol, and all out partying. Guitar Hero may not be able to provide the fun of passing out drunk on the floor, but it certainly captures the feel of rock in a video game. With all kinds of tracks and one of the coolest gaming peripherals, Guitar Hero makes you feel like you're on that stage with thousands of screaming fans going crazy. Well, as long as you don't look at yourself in the mirror. Anyone who is willing to fork over $70 will not be disappointed when they strap on that plastic guitar. Get ready to bang your head all through the day.

You can jump right into beginning your rock career, but you'd be wise to complete the helpful tutorial first. It familiarizes you with the basics of the game, as well as some advanced techniques for the Jimi Hendrix in all of us. And for those who don't know, Hendrix quickly rose up in the ranks. Now it's your turn. You begin in a small basement in some house with only five songs to perform. As you complete these songs, you earn better gigs, providing you with some fresh music. Eventually you'll go from some wannabe to a rock ‘n' roll god. That is, until you crank up the difficulty. Muwahahaha!!!

Alright, maybe that was a little exaggerated. The game isn't necessarily difficult, it just tests those fingers of yours. On easy, you only have to use three of the controller's five buttons. It eases you right into the game while providing some challenge at the latter part of the game. But wait until you raise it to the medium setting, as it utilizes your pinky. Hard difficulty is a quick ascent, forcing you to use all five buttons. This means some slipping and sliding, unless you have a magical thumb. Lastly is the ultimate test, expert mode. The pace is drastically increased, so make sure you have some quick reflexes and mad skills. It's a nice change of pace with each setting and gives people of all skills their own comfort zone. But I'm sure you're wondering by now, “what is this ‘controller' you speak of?”

The main attraction of Guitar Hero is the guitar it comes with. It's a respectable model of a real guitar and is about 75% the size of one. It consists of five buttons and a flipper, substituting the traditional strings. Striking a button in conjunction with strumming the flipper is how to successfully hit each note. This requires timing, because you must wait until the notes reach the circles at the bottom, or else you'll sound as though you're a baby playing the guitar. (No disrespect to babies.) And despite being plastic, the controller doesn't look cheaply made. However, I wouldn't test that by smashing the guitar on the ground. The guys that you see doing that are trained professionals.

Visually, Guitar Hero is solid. There won't be a whole lot of eye candy, but your character is quite lively on the screen. They're feeling the groove, and they take the energy from the roaring audience and use it as their own. You'll find watching a grown man running across stage while you play the guitar is a lot more fun than you thought. There will be different stages to run around in the form of venues. They are well designed, ranging from small, dark basements to huge stages full of flashing lights and special effects. However, most of the time you'll be paying attention to the notes on the screen. They may be colorful, but this makes the graphics just a side factor to the game, contrary to the audio.

Guitar Hero is a music game, so sound is obviously going to play a huge part in the game. Guitar Hero comes with a wide assortment of rock songs. There are various styles of rock, from punk to metal. Just like the songs, a wide array of artists are featured, including Ozzy Osbourne, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, and Franz Ferdinand. That's just a little taste of what Guitar Hero has to offer, because there are 30 tracks to start off with in the game. Surprisingly, all of them are cover versions, yet they sound convincingly accurate. But music isn't the only part of the audio, as sound effects play a big role in the game. What's a concert if there is no crowd yelling their heads off? Thankfully, there are thousands of convincing fans cheering just for you. Also, if you play a note wrong, don't expect to hear a loud guitar riff. That really shows how the developers paid mind to precise detail. So turn those speakers up to 11, because the audio is about as good as it gets.

Playing these tracks again and again is a lot of fun, but Guitar Hero is not without some lasting appeal. The game has all kinds of unlockables in a variety of ways. There are behind the scenes videos, shiny new guitars, skins for customization, special characters, and best of all, new tracks. The new guitars, characters, and skins look cool, but don't propose a whole lot of extended fun. The 17 songs are what really offer the most replay value. All of them are from independent rock artists, but they are actually good. They provide a nice challenge without being too frustrating, and increase the game's lifespan. Though, what will really keep you coming for more is the multiplayer. If you want to have an awesome experience with your friends, then the smart thing to do would be purchasing another guitar. A regular PlayStation 2 controller can be used, but who wants to do that? Now with two guitar controllers, you can battle it out and watch your opponent look really goofy with you. That's entertainment at its peak.

There's a little rocker in everyone, and with Guitar Hero they can unleash it upon the world. Accessible to anyone with two hands, the game provides an alternative for those of us who aren't experienced with a real guitar, along with some great music. You can feel it, can't you? The adrenaline is pumping as the audience chants your name while you play a mad guitar riff. What you're feeling is the Guitar Hero experience. And with just a few extra bucks, it can be in your hands. Rock on!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 07/18/06

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