Review by Chronic_Apathy

"Rock out loud!"

Guitar Hero II is the best selling game for the Xbox 360 and PS2. It features some of the most unique, and dare-I-say best gameplay of any game for either system, and yes, period. It's accompanied by many very fun and catchy songs, something rare in most beat and rythm games. Though the graphics are lacking, they're by far the least important part of a game like this, making it a near non-issue.

The gameplay is fairly to hard to explain, but I'm going to do my best. If it isn't sufficient, take the information from the "Controls" section of this review and check out some videos on Youtube to get the basic idea.

There are three sections to the playing board that you'll see throughout the song. The notes, board, and reciever. They work together to let you play the song with extremely easy-to-learn gameplay and interface. The notes will come at you on the board. Your goal is to hit the right notes (information on how in the "Controls" section) at the end of the board where the reciever is. When you do so, the note "plays" and disappears before reaching the end of the board. If you do not play it on time or hit the wrong note, it will make it to the end of the board and cannot be played.

The goal of the song is to keep your "rock meter" from draining. It has three sections, red, yellow, and green. It starts in the middle of the yellow section. If you do good, you'll move towards - and eventually enter - the green section. If you miss a lot of notes, it will move towards - and eventually enter - the red section. If it goes all the way to the end of the red section, the song will end automatically and you won't pass it. In easy mode, it will stop half-way through the red section for several notes, making it easier to succeed.

Throughout a song you'll see sections of notes that look like stars. When you hit all of the notes shaped like a star in one section, you'll fill up 1/4 of your "Star Power" meter. When you fill to at least 1/2, you can activate Star Power which will give you twice the amount of points you would normally recieve (in addition to the regular multiplier. For instance, if you had 4x and activated Star Power, you'd have 8x.) Also, your Rock Meter will raise much faster per note and will not go down as fast when you miss notes.

The graphics are the only part of the game that is truly lacking, and thankfully, it's almost a non-issue due to the nature of the game. For a 360 game, it really is horrible. The characters look like early Gamecube graphics and most of the background is cel-shaded. Depending on the character you have, the board you play on changes designs. Thankfully none of these are hard on the eyes or distracting, and most of them have pretty nice looking designs.

The audio in this game is superb. In a genre where the music is everything, it's important to get awesome songs that people will want to play over and over again, and GHII accomplishes just that. They all (naturally) are heavy on guitar, but there's a nice set of genres. From metal to 50's rock to punk rock, there's a genre for everyone, and most of them have at least three songs so you don't get bored with just one. Although you certainly won't like them all and odds are you'll come to hate at least a few, the 50+ songs do not disappoint.

The controls are surprisingly simple. A special controller was created for the game (The Xbox 360 version has the X-Plorer controller but the PS2 version is different, and I'm not sure what it's called), so keep that in mind. There are five fret buttons on the neck of the guitar that are color-coded. Hit the button that's the same color and location on the screen to play it. However, you must all hit the strum bar at the same time as you hit the button. Coordinate them perfectly for the note to play. To activate Star Power, tilt the guitar up or hit the back/select button.

The replayibility is pretty good. There's no Xbox Live multiplayer though you can play co-op with a friend next to you. This however, can be annoying with one guitar since the controller controls are difficult to get used to. However, there are a ton of songs, and most people find at least 5 that they can play over and over and over again, even more than 2-3 hours per song. Going through all the campaigns (Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert) takes a ton of time as well since you'll have to go through each song four time.

This really is a superb and addicting game. A few minor annoyances like the crap graphics and no Xbox Live multiplayer hurts it a little, but it's still all-in-all a great experience. Even if you start out horribly, who knows? You could become one of those freaks on Youtube that hits 103,413,444 notes per second. Even if this isn't true, it's a great experience that you'll have a lot of fun with.

Gameplay - 9/10
Graphics - 4/10
Audio - 8.5/10
Controls - 9/10
Replayibility - 9/10
Overall - 9/10

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 09/12/07

Game Release: Guitar Hero II (Game only) (US, 10/28/07)

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