Review by Black Hayate

"A game music fans and gamers would enjoy alike"

Guitar Hero is a rhythm game created by Harmonix and published by RedOctane. The game uses a special controller, which looks like shrunk down a Gibson SG Guitar. The game itself is probably the best music/rhythm-based video game I ever played to date.

Like said before, Guitar Hero is played with a Gibson SG controller. There's five buttons on the fretboard, each of them color coded. A strum switch is down on the middle of the guitar body (like the Guitar Freaks controller), and there's even a working whammy bar which I found to be a nice little surprise.

Basically the game is played to the guitar rhythm and playing to a song by matching the colored notes coming down at you from the top of the screen, by tapping the corresponding buttons on the fretboard. Guitar Hero is similar to Guitar Freaks in this aspect. Unlike Guitar Freaks, there's five buttons as opposed to three, there's hammer-ons and pull-offs involved.

There's four levels of difficulty. Easy mode is restricted to the usage of the first three buttons on the fretboard. Normal uses the first four buttons. Hard uses all buttons, but the five button isn't pressed much. Expert mode demands consistent use of all the five buttons. Gameplay gets especially fun and hectic as you shred through the solos.

There's a career mode you can follow which mimics a band's schedule. You play song to song, gaining some cash from each gig. You can spend the money in the game's shop, which sells unlockables songs and guitars.

There's a Rock Meter which displays how well your playing with three colors. If the audience is jumping up and down and getting off of your riffs and solos, the meter's at green. If your doing worse, the meter stays at a neutral green. If the audience starts to boo you and groan, then you probably hit the red zone.

Power chords are chords that are shaped like stars, if you nail them then they add to your Star Power. If you have enough Star Power, you can activate it and then your guitar sound will truly shine and your character will start doing Jimi Hendrix style stage tricks. That would add tremendous amount of points into your score.

Quick Play mode lets you simply pick up and play any song on your unlocked list. This is the best way to play the game, especially when friends are over. Playing this game would be much better if there were two guitar controllers, but I haven't had the luxury of that as of yet.

The only problem I have this game is that it doesn't allow you to practice certain, individual parts of songs such as solos. That would have contributed so much to the game play.

The music in this game is 100% American and British rock and metal. From "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple to "Cowboys From Hell" by Pantera, "Killer Queen" by Queen to "Higher Ground" by the Red Hot Chili Peppers the rock selection is quite diverse. What really surprised me is that all the songs in the game were covers. Yes, covers. And DAMN, those were some of the best covers I ever heard. "Ace of Spades" and "I Love Rock N' Roll" are probably the most accurate I heard in the game. Some covers such as "Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand, sound horrible however. Lack of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC or Iron Maiden disappoints however.

There's also many original tracks in the game, all of which can be unlocked through the Shop. They're done by potential hopefuls who entered a contest in which the winner gets their band's music in the game. Some of the songs have what it takes to go mainstream such as “Cheat on the Church”, while some don't (“Guitar Hero”, the song named after the game).

Graphics in this game are perfectly suited for a game like this. Not too detailed or too cruddy looking, just right. The characters clearly represent what kind of music they dig and love to play. There's the lanky British virtuoso who I swear to god is the love child of John Lennon and Mick Jagger. And also shown is a muscle-headed head banger who looks like a mixture of Zakk Wylde and Bruce Dickinson. The fret boards the game is played on are ornately decorated to suit the kind of music that is being played.

Guitar Hero's overall a good game, not godly but good. It's worth borrowing from a friend and playing it for a couple of days but eventually like most games, you would grow tired of it. If you want to buy, I suggest a used copy if possible as the full price of $80 isn't really worth it.


+Excellent covers of classic and newer songs
+Fun, especially with friends over
+Music's 100% rock n' roll


-Certain, individual parts of songs can't be practiced stand alone
-Could have used some more tracks
-Cover of Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out"

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 01/06/06, Updated 02/10/06

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