Guitar Hero 2
Review of Guitar Hero 2
There are lot's of Multiplayer party games with extra peripheral controllers, SingStar with the twin microphones, EyeToy with camera, Dance Revolution and it's arcade styling dance mat and BUZZ with interactive contestant Buzzers. Now these have cemented themselves in gaming history and they have been played with the greatest of ease & much joyment by people of all ages. Now it's all about to be shook up and rocked hard with Red Octane & Harmonix Guitar Hero.
75,000 people all screaming your name, the lights go down, the sound system boots up, and you step up on the stage with the guitar around your neck, plug in the jack to the amp & hearing the crackling of the power going through the valves & out to the speakers, walking up to the mic stand to take a plectrum from the row on the stand with your band logo engraved on them, spot light beaming down and you lift high your hand and swing down hard on the strings……………………KRRRAANNGGG!!!
No, Not another 17yr old air-guitar fantasy (whilst bouncing on the bed), but the second in an astoundingly popular series of Guitar Hero. So along comes Guitar Hero 2, bigger, badder, better, on tour again shredding up the venues.
You may be aware that one of the PS2s latest peripherals (released late 2005) was a Gibson SG copy guitar. Plug this baby into the controller port and you were able to strum along like a Rock God! And you really need a Guitar Hero SG Controller to get the full effect of playing this game. The controller comes with the game and can be bought separately for a 2nd player. The people from Red Octane have thought of the players again by releasing a new coloured controller. A lovely shinny red Gibson SG guitar just like the one Angus Young from ACDC uses so you can live up old school fantasies and put on your school shorts & jacket & strut around the bedroom. BUT! What is even better, Red Octane have gone wireless, they have released a stunning modern looking white wireless Guitar Hero Controller (*more to add about range & compatibility for the first game*) You can use the standard DualShock Controller, but as you progress through the levels the extreme fast button pushing of notes & chords could give you a nasty sore fingers & wrists, also it deters from the feel of being a Rock God that the Gibson SG controller gives.
The game menu is kept just about the same as the first game for ease of use. Career mode, quick play, multi play, training and options are listed. Selecting of the options is very important for HDTV users as you have to go into video mode & select Calibrate Lag as there is time lag/delay if you don’t. You don’t have to select it if your still using an old fashion CRT TV
It’s a good idea to start off with the tutorial unless you are familiar with the first game. The controls are simple on the guitar, you have 5 coloured fret buttons (green, red, yellow, blue and orange) a strum bar, start, select knobs and the important “whammy bar” more on that later. As go through the tutorial you learn simple guitar techniques for becoming a Rock God. As a coloured note comes down the fret board you must select that fret colour on the guitar and when it reaches the bottom you strike down on the strum bar to create that note. As more coloured notes come down you can learn to play the strum bar up or down depending on how fast they flow down. Every time you hit a correct note you get points, notes with a long tail after them mean you have to hold down & keep down that fret key for the duration of the note and get more points which are displayed on the left hand side of the rolling fret bar. The more notes you hit in succession you start to get “X” times multiplier increasing your score. The more notes you hit correctly you will get a special star shaped notes coming down, hit these off without missing one then your Rock-o-meter will gain boost. When you get one of these star notes with a tail on, hold down that note to sustain it and take the “whammy bar” and vibrate it in & out towards the strum bar fast to build extra-extra boost gain. You have to watch out for the Rock-o-meter on the right hand side of the screen, as this is part of your gig. It’s a simple meter, it goes from the red (bad) to green (good) keeping it in the green means your hitting the right notes & keeping your fans very happy, start missing notes and it will rock down to the red & the fans will start to boo you. When it hits Rock Bottom then your finished, pack your guitar bag up & get out before they start throwing bottles at you. As you keep your Rock-o-meter in the green & filling up your boost bar, the boost bar will start to glow, now you can pull of a crowd pleaser. By tilting the neck of the guitar up towards your head you activate a tilt switch that turns your boost into double “X” times Multiplier, you can go up to 8X multiplier and it’s a good thing to pull off in later harder levels on the lead part of the song, plus you get a wicked crowd response when you do.
With tutorial out of the way you have learned how to “hammer down” and “pull off” important notes along with the use of the way the fret board is laid out e.g. you don’t have to release a lower fret button while you play a higher note like on a real guitar. Let’s get on with playing a gig!
Starting off with Quick Play you only get 2 levels on easy, medium, hard & expert with only 4 songs in each level. You have to go into career mode to unlock new songs & levels. Career mode, this is now starting point of your band. Choose your band’s name and select you level of skill from easy, medium, hard or expert, now get your character to shred for your band. The characters from the first game are back again along with a few new ones to play along side the likes of Punk - Johnny Napalm, 80’s Rocker - Izzy Sparks, Hard Man of Rock – Axel Steel, 50’s Styling - Eddie Knox and Emo – Judy Nails. There are 3 that you can’t select as they must be unlocked later in the game. Now onto your axe or guitar if you want it that way. Only 3 to select at first, Classic ones at that. Gibson SG (Angus Young) Flying V (Marc Bolan) and Les Paul (Slash) and from then on you get a sponsor and no funny duddy ones. Red Octane have gotten licensed people & gear as such as Ernie Ball, Mesa Boogie, Orange, Vans etc. Playing in Easy mode is a good way to start, but sadly you earn no money from your gig and only get to play 4 songs per level for a couple of levels, but it’s good practice for later on. Hitting on the medium setting & once you have successfully completed a song/gig you get rewarded with money, minus damages, security & alcohol use! Depending how good you were, a star rating is given out of 5. Higher the rating more you get. On this setting you have to complete 3 out of 4 songs and on completion you a given the chance to perform an encore. If you take it you unlock an extra song for that level, once competed it’s time to advance p the Rock scale of fame & fortune as you travel to your next venue. Your not just stuck in the USA travelling from a beat up mini van to a luxury coach with mini bar as you get better, but off over the waters to places like England’s Stone Henge which has a funny UFO Encore ending of FREEBIRD!!!
Now if your stuck on a song, a section or just can’t play it to 100%, there is a new feature in Guitar Hero 2. In the tutorial there is a practice section where you can practice & learn what you need for the guitar or bass parts. On your song selection that you need to perfect you can practice all of the song or certain parts of it like the intro, bridge, chorus, lead or outro and what level. Going on from that you have speed selection. It’s very handy selection as you get to practice the pace of speed you want. ¼, ½, ¾ and full speed is at you disposal and you can build up your pace as you go to master the track section. I found this very useful when playing Avenged Sevenfold’s Beast and the Harlot on expert.
On to the sounds, and this is what makes the game at total success. It’s all down to the songs Red Octane & Harmonix have selected. As previous they have gone across the musical genre of 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, Rock N’ Roll, Rock, Hard Rock, Metal, Thrash, Punk, Emo, Contemporary, Grunge, Pop and Curly Perm Mullet Rock. With over 40 licensed and 20 unlicensed tracks you’ll not be bored trying to get more cash to unlock them all. Within the first 2 levels the song selection is pretty poor and it’s only the fact that The Police’s Message in a Bottle and Nirvana’s Heart Shaped Box rescues that group in the early going. Song structure is just a little bit on the off’ish side due to the multiplayer side and I got the feeling that the guitars are quiet on certain sections due to player 2 taking over, but it doesn’t deter from the whole of the song & the gig mood. As you get further into the game getting Foo Fighter’s Monkey Wrench, is starting to pick the pace up quite faster using palming strum techniques making you feel like Dave Ghrol, further on if your not sitting down playing, your up on your feet, legs wide apart posing like Slash going into the intro of Sweet Child ‘O Mine and then not forgetting a Classic Black Sabbath War Pigs gently head banging your way through it as if your along side Ozzy himself. It’s also good if you already know the songs themselves and how they are constructed, but I found that some of the unlicensed stuff hit me blindsided & that’s where your practice must come in. Of course hitting the right note & chords will give you the satisfying sound your playing. Wrong or missed notes will give you a clunk sound and at times you can hear the crowd groan. In game selection and navigation is various guitar crunches & strings swiped, very minimal but effective.
Once you’ve completed the medium level your rewarded with the Pro-face Off mode in multiplayer and onto that we shred. Got a Second SG controller? Plug in Baby and get it on with your partner or rival. Co-op mode is one song, one on guitar, other on bass or guitar & play the song to the level you want. Now you’re a real band!! I found that parts of the bass section are fast & furious and found it a little bit hard to keep up on expert. I think that the problem with that is I’ve never played a bass part before in my life & it’s a good learning to do it. Scoring & boosting is just the same in Career & Quick Play and is easy to get it on. Face off mode is good fun to pit you wits & skills against your rival, as the song plays you each play different parts to the song and in the middle of the 2 rolling fret bars is your swing-o-meter and scoring. The person who gets the higher score wins it’s that simple. Pro-face Off is a blinder, a simple case of who is the best shredder of the song on the same settings, just play the song as normal that you would in Career or Quick Play and with the swing-o-meter in the middle gives you an idea whose getting the perfect shred of the song. The one with the least mistakes wins and the loser picks up the bar bill.
Graphics are a little bit better than last, but keeping the same bright colours for the fret board & menu the only graphical improvement is the background of your stage setting, crowd and band. There’s enough to keep you busy on the fret board, but if you start to stray your eye on what’s happening around you mistakes will happen. From your start of the Battle of the bands at school to the Rat Cellar, past the Red Octane Arena to Stone Henge there are little things that do catch your eye. A good use of camera angles & stage effects add to the feeling that you’re in a gig and being beamed live on world wide TV. For instance the camera that is attached to the neck of the guitar and air bomb effects going off on crucial chord crunches & cymbal crashes. Artwork around the menus are in the style of cheeseball art like Coop, but with family values and the ingame styling are what to expect from over the top performers of any band. Sadly there is no online play in this game, which is a shame as there is a huge fan base from the first game and dedicated scoring websites with a huge forum community. Maybe this will be a feature if they produce a 3rd one in this uber-cool game series.
OUR PLEDGE: We promise that we have fully played 'Guitar Hero 2' before writing this review. The scores given above are our honest opinion and were not influenced in any way by the manufacturer or distributor of the game.
This review was written by Chris Norman and Jane Stanley © Absolute PlayStation
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