Review by katamari_roller
"Everybody MUST own this game!"
Guitar Hero, at one time, it was just another face in the crowd of horrible pheripheral games, but very quickly proved to be more than that. Millions of people have been rocking out all from the comfort of their living rooms! If you haven't joined the Guitar Hero sensation, let me be the one to show you just how awesome it is!
Guitar Hero's gameplay uses the tried and true method of a concept that's easy to learn, but very hard to master. To start tings off, ditch your 360 controller. What? You thought you would be rocking out with that thing? Nonsense! You get a pretty sweet guitar controller shaped like a Gibson X-Plorer, assuming you bought the bundle. There are 5 colored buttons on the neck, a fully functional whammy bar, and a strum bar. You also get start and select buttons and for no apparant reason, they include a D-Pad. Now that I'm done describing your instrument, it's time to talk about playing songs. Most of your time will be spent in Career mode. Here, you pick one out of a small, but solid, group of characters. Your selection won't affect the game at all, so feel free to choose anybody. You also pick a difficulty level to play at, either Easy, Medium, Hard, or Expert. Easy has you only using 3 buttons (green, red, and yellow), Medium throws in the Blue button, and both Hard and Expert have you using all 5 buttons. The speeds of the notes change with the levels as well. At this point, you will be prompted to pick a venue to play at. From here, you pick a song. After a very breif intro, 5 circles appear on the bottom of the screen, each of them corresponding to one of the fret buttons on the neck of your guitar. Notes will come down from the top. When they scroll over the circles, you push whatever button (or buttons) are shown and push either up or down on the strum bar. Hitting notes will earn you points and playing a series of notes will double you score and will double until you've recieved a x8 multiplier. Unlike some rhythm games like DDR, you won't see any accuracy messages like 'perfect' or 'miss'. If you hit a note, you got it. If you miss it, it's gone, no second chances, end of story. Hitting certain notes, which appear as glowing blue notes, build up "Star Power". If you build up enough Star Power, you can activate it by simply tilting the guitar's neck upwards or by pushing select if you find that too troublesome. Once activated, your score doubles. This means for a period of time, you can go beyond the x8 multiplier and multiply your score by 16! If you find yourself about to fail a song, this will also greatly boost your Rock Meter. In case you're wondering, the Rock Meter is a gauge of how well you are playing a song. It is split into 3 sections, green, yellow, and red. You begin each song in the middle of the yellow section. If you play well, the Rock Meter will point towards the green section and the crowd will start cheering you on! On the other side, start playing horribly, and the Meter points towards the red side. The crowd begins to boo. If you continue this, the Rock Meter and screen in general will blink red. Unless you clean up your act here, you fail the song. If you do clear the song, your fans go nuts, which is followed by the game showing your score and a number of stars, 3 being the worst and 5 being the best. If this is your first time clearing the song, or you earn more stars on a replay of it, you get some money. At the end of each tier, which consists of 5 songs, you are asked to play an encore song. Clearing this will earn you more money and allow you to move on to a different venue, which means more songs.
Now you may be asking yourself, "Wow, what can I do with all this money?" In Career mode, you can go to the Store and buy a number of things including new songs, characters, guitars, finishes, etc.
With all that said about the Career Mode, it's time to move on to the other modes you might be interested in checking out. Quick Play is where you can play any of the songs you've unlocked or bought, without having to bother with all the choices. You do have to choose your difficulty though.
A new feature not present in the first Guitar Hero is Practice Mode. If you ever find yourself frustrated because you can't learn how to play a certain part of a song, and trust me, you'll find yourself in that situation several times, this is where Practice Mode comes in. You choose your song as usual, but now, you can choose whichever portion of the song you like. You can even slow down the song to either Slowest, Slower, or Slow. If you wish, playing the song at a normal pace is also an option.
Finally, Multiplayer is divided into 3 gameplay types. Co-op, if you can guess, is where you and a friend can play a song together, one playing lead guitar and the other one playing bass. If you're friend is either worse or better than you at Guitar Hero, you both can choose the difficulty that suits your individual needs. For example, if you're a Guitar Hero pro and just introducing your roommate to Guitar Hero, you can enter Multiplayer and set his level to Easy, while setting yourself to Expert. You both share one Rock Meter, so you have to make sure you two work together to stay alive. Face Off is where you compete on one song to see who can score more points. The song is split evenly between you and your opponent, so difficulty doesn't give one person an edge over another. Pro Face Off is essentially Face Off, except you and your opponent must play at the same level.
As you can see, this game offer a LOT in the gameplay department.
I have to say, this game has pretty good graphics! The characters, although somewhat cartoon-ish, are rendered well and are easy on the eyes. The crowd is made is of pretty much 4 people duplicated one hundred fold, but you can't really blame Harmonix. I don't think they would want to design hundreds of people, just to have them just up and down in mass numbers. When you actually sit down to play the game, you don't really notice this. After all, your main priority it to play the song and play it well, especially when you reach the more difficult songs on higher levels. If you're just waiting in line for a chance to play, the graphics are noticeably fantastic!
Being a music game, sound is a key factor. Since Harmonix did not have direct access to the songs, a lot of them are NOT the original tracks. Although most of them are notably of lesser quality than the real songs, they do sound good. People who are not in the know about rock music will not notice any huge differences.
If I haven't praised this game enough, the replay value is limitless! Once you start playing your first song on Easy mode, you won't want to stop until you've reached the moment where you can play on Expert mode. Even at that point, you'll be constantly replaying your favorite songs to earn more money, higher scores, more stars, and bragging rights you can shove in your friends' faces at your heart's content! If you have friends closeby, the multiplayer aspects of Guitar Hero II are undoubtedly some of the best to pass countless hours rocking out!
Rent or Buy?
A definate buy. As I mentioned in the title of this review, EVERYBODY MUST OWN THIS GAME! I cannot stress this fact enough.
Reviewer's Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
Originally Posted: 01/23/08
Game Release: Guitar Hero II (US, 04/03/07)
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