Review by Guilty_Gearhead

"Playing Guitar Hero Truely is More Than a Feeling."

Everyone who has listened to their favorite rock song has at one time or another played air guitar to it. I know I've aired to Cream and Boston more than once while driving, but thanks to Guitar Hero, the roads are allot safer and I'll never need to do it again. For $80 you get a Guitar controller that replicates a Gibson guitar with five color coated fret buttons and a whammy bar, and a strum bar that replicates the strumming of an actual guitar as well as changing notes. You also get a sticker sheet that you can use to customize your guitar, a shoulder strap, and a copy of the game. The price sounds steep, but the feeling of playing classic rock songs like Cream's "Crossroads", Boston's "More Than a Feeling", and Ozzie's "Bark at the Moon" compares only to actually playing in the respective bands. For most, this will be the closest you'll ever get to being an actual rock messiah.
NOTE: Since there is really no actual story plot, The category "Song list" will take place of the regular story category. It will be rated on a regular 10/10 scale.

Graphics- 7/10
The graphics are rather bland and the backgrounds look fake, but this matters little since I believe the developers intended this and you'll hardly notice the stage or the band members while you're concentrating on hitting all the notes and power chords in a song. Besides, the main focus of the camera will most of the time be on your character. The characters you can chose are basically rock stereotypes. All the characters are well detailed, but the textures and colors make the game feel cartoony and the backgrounds look like cardboard (again most likely the intended art styling). That being said, if you do look at the whole presentation, it's not going to knock more visually appealing games like Final Fantasy X and Halo 2 from your mind anytime soon.

Sound- 10/10
The list of thirty or so songs includes some of the greatest rock songs of all time, as well as some newer tracks from artists such as Incubus, The Donnas, and Franz Ferdinand. The result is a good mix of songs that represent all different fields from Cream's early rock, to the heavy metal stylings of Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and Ozzie Osborne, to the glam rock of David Bowie. All of the songs by the artists are covers, but most sound pretty accurate and in some cases better than their original counterparts. For example, in the case of the track "Ziggy Stardust", they added a guitar solo in the middle and a different take on the part connecting the middle and ends of the song, making it better than the original recording. Plus, most of the vocalists sound pretty similar to the people they are imitating making them sound that much more impressive.

Song List- 10/10
Some of the artists include Boston, David Bowie, Ozzie Osborne, Black Sabbath, Queen, Judas Priest, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix and more. If that tease list doesn't excite you, check your pulse. You may be dead. The only complaint I have is that Harmonix should have included artists like Iron Maiden, Eric Clapton (post cream), and some Who, but that is just a matter of opinion. The songs are arranged in order of increasing difficulty starting with the easy "I Love Rock N' Roll" and ending with the hand breaking "Bark At the Moon." All the songs are very accessible and you may have your musical library expanded after playing some of these artists songs. I know mine was.

Gameplay- 10/10
As I said before, the songs are very accessible and there are four difficulties to gradually ease you into melting faces on expert mode. The songs play very much like Dance Dance Revolution in the aspect that the notes you need to hit scroll down the screen to the corresponding color. When the notes match up at the bottom of the screen, you hold down the correct fret button and strum the fret bar to hit the note. There is a rock meter that goes from red to green. If you miss too many notes, the crowd will boo you off the stage and the song will end, but as you hit a longer and longer string of notes, you'll get more and more points (especially hard to do on Bark at the Moon). The star power meter increases when you hit special note sequences that look like stars. You must hit all of the notes in the sequence in order to collect the star power, then you can use it to make your point totals to soar, or get through an especially hard part of a song. When you complete a song, the game rates you by percent of notes hit and gives you a star ranking. The higher the ranking, the more money you earn. You can spend the money in the store to unlock more guitars, guitar skins, characters and songs by lesser known independent bands, kind of like the Tony Hawk Skateboarding games... Sorta. You'll be hard pressed to complete all of the songs on Expert and unlock all accessories. Also, the guitar controller works surprisingly well, responds to the quick movements needed in some of the harder songs, and is very durable, and is quite comfortable to wear. It all sounds really daunting, but it is actually quite simple to learn, just harder to master. Anyone can have fun playing on any level of difficulty.

Overall- 9/10
Guitar Hero is well worth the $80+ and has nearly unlimited replay value. The song selection is solid, the covers are done well and the unlockables are many. If you have ever listened to a rock song or played air guitar, you need to get this game. Here's to hoping the sequel will be even better!

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 03/24/06

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