I knew that when they announced Guitar Hero 2 many moons ago, I would be running not walking to my local EB Games and procuring the game ahead of time. I mean what was there to not love about the first one, hard rocking music, every air guitarist’s dream and addictive gameplay. I am happy to report that the second is more of the same; there are new songs, new levels of difficulty, and the same great gameplay albeit with a few new quirks. However, don’t let that little flaw deter…you from this great game. Read on young air guitar aficionado!
Guitar Hero 2 can say one thing about its graphics, they are consistent. If you saw it in Guitar Hero 1, rinse and repeat for the graphics in the 2nd one. Sure they did touch it up a bit, but to be honest if you are taking the time to stare at the graphics, you probably don’t like the game very much or have my job :). The main thing I can say about the graphics is that picking up chords and notes actually seems a little bit easier. Perhaps my eyes have become more trained about that sort of thing, but even the most difficult passages seem to flow better than they did before.
The Guitar Hero series is always primarily about one thing. The songs. Here, you can definitely turn up the radioOOOOO! By looking at the song list, you’ll notice great acts such as Kiss, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Guns n Roses and even the Police(hard hard fast song). But it isn’t just popular great tunes that are here; no smaller acts such as Primus, Danzig, Warrant & Matthew Sweet make the list with their tunes. Guaranteed to rock the house, and a few other things as well. My primary concern here is that again many of these are covers, and maybe it was the fact that they had to do more songs this time…but it is more obvious that they are indeed covers. In the first Guitar Hero, the covers were so close to the original it was crazy. Here they are still close, but a little less so. So, it makes for a near slam dunk but still very satisfying experience.
If you are unfamiliar with the Guitar Hero series; let me break it down for you. Take that big controller that looks like a guitar and plug it into your PS2. Its sleek design, and durable big buttons is exactly what you have been jonesing for. Does it feel good, like a peripheral should? Rock on, rock on. I really love this controller, and you would think I would have to replace it by now…but no its holding up and nicely. Now with this version, there has been some report of 3rd party guitars not working. This is unfortunate, however most of these 3rd party guitars were made when the 2nd game was already being developed so its not fair to Red Octane to put them at fault. Besides the original controller has always worked, and the newer 3rd party guitars including some wireless ones work too.
If you are unfamiliar with how the game plays, here is a quick recap. As notes or chords go across the screen you hit the corresponding button on your guitar. When you build up consecutive notes in a row, you get multipliers, up to 4x for each note or chord you hit. This becomes doubled up to 8x when you hit your star power (turn the guitar straight up or hit the select button). New to this version is a couple of great things. First being a practice mode; here you can slow down passages that you are having trouble with or play them over and over again until you finally get them right. No playing the whole song just to get to that hard bridge where your fingers cry for your mommy. Just keep crying 40 times in a row if necessary. Second being a new multiplayer of sorts. It includes a co-op mode this time where one guy is lead and the other is a bass or rhythm section. Makes for a great band effect. Eventually or at least I hope for an add on for Karaoke Revolution where you can get a guy singing and two people on the guitars. I can dream huh? (or just join a real band)
Difficulty becomes interesting again. In my honest opinion, the difficulty is turned up a notch for the sequel. Songs like Psychobilly Freakout and Message in a Bottle will have your fingers aching for hours on end. Easy is of course way too easy, Medium becomes just right for most of us. If you master Medium, don’t even begin to think that Hard will be a cakewalk. It takes some serious skills to turn Hard into anything less than an excruciating experience. If you can do that, then there is always expert too. Heck I’m just happy when I can do Sweet Child of Mine on Medium and hit the solos/bridge.
Guitar Hero 2 certainly ups the ante with the sequel. Now the main songs are 40 and the bonus songs are even up to 24. Makes for 64 songs which will take you forever to sufficiently master. As with before, each first time you make from 3-5 stars on a particular song you get some cash to spend on new guitars, characters, skins (for guitars), outfits (for characters), bonus videos (which they should include more of) and of course bonus songs. The nice thing about this version is that cash carries over to other difficulty levels; so you don’t have to mess with getting the bonus songs yet again just to play them in hard or expert mode. You will spend a long time most likely trying to be absolutely perfect in every song. The game now plots out your stats on each part of the song and you can see exactly what you are hitting and missing. Being a stat freak, this becomes a very addictive feature. Dang nab it, I’m only getting 90% on the bridge, I know I can do 100%…yeah yeah, you can see how this is maddening.
The first Guitar Hero was essentially a perfect game. Sequels usually have a hard road to live up to the original and go beyond. Guitar Hero 2 certainly does its fair share of doing just that. The new co-op multiplayer, along with improved scoring, and more songs than you can shake that wonderful controller at make this experience a new one all over again. The only knock I can make at the game is the strength of its covers. Sure the guitar parts are right on, but I do have trouble with the singing. I fully understand that almost nobody can sound like Axl Rose or Ozzy Osbourne so its a minor knock at best. Please, please though, do not let that deter you from one of the best experiences and party games you can ever have. Remember one thing, if you ever run out of songs for an encore….do not under any circumstances just jam.
Guitar Hero II Track List:
- Motley Crue – Shout at the Devil
- Danzig – Mother
- Cheap Trick – Surrender
- Wolfmother – Woman
- Spinal Tap – Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight
- Kiss – Strutter
- Nirvana – Heart-Shaped Box
- Police – Message in a Bottle
- Van Halen – You Really Got Me
- Kansas – Carry on Wayward Son
- Foo Fighters – Monkey Wrench
- Alice in Chains – Them Bones
- Iggy Pop and the Stooges – Search and Destroy
- Pretenders – Tattooed Love Boys
- Black Sabbath – War Pigs
- Warrant – Cherry Pie
- Butthole Surfers – Who Was in My Room Last Night
- Mathew Sweet – Girlfriend
- Rolling Stones – Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’
- Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
- Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name Of
- Primus – John the Fisherman
- Sword – Freya
- Thin Lizzy – Bad Reputation
- Aerosmith – Last Child
- Heart – Crazy on You
- Stone Temple Pilots – Tripping on a Hole in a Paper Heart
- Stray Cats – Rock This Town
- Allman Brothers – Jessica
- Jane’s Addiction – Stop
- Anthrax – Madhouse
- Living End – Carry Me Home
- Lamb of God – Laid to Rest
- Reverend Horton Heat – Psychobilly Freakout
- Rush – YYZ
- Avenged Sevenfold – Beast and the Harlot
- Suicidal Tendencies – Institutionalized
- Dick Dale – Misirlou
- Megadeth – Hangar 18
- Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird