Past Entertainment Articles.
Article for the week of 2/1/07
Guitar hero II For the Playstation2
Yes, it is the sequel to Guitar Hero! Time to live out all your rock
For those of you unfamiliar with the Guitar Hero games, here's the basic
premise. You have a neat plastic guitar in the shape of a Gibson (a red
SG-1 if you buy the bundle, a black SG-1 in the first) with a lever, a
button to strum, and five color coded buttons. Then you just press the
button with the right color to choose note and strum when the circle in
(hopefully) the correct color reaches the symbols on the bottom of the
screen. Sounds easy enough, right? And the basic idea is, as all good
ideas. It's the playing that starts off as very hard. Hand-eye coordination
is key, and at first you will not have a clue where your fingers are.
It takes a few tries to get used to it all, which is why on easy you only
use the top three buttons, while on medium you use the top four. The addition
of orange on hard and expert instantly makes them worthy of their names.
Especially since you have to take harder chords as well (holding down
several buttons at once), while the speed increases. Yes, Guitar Hero
II is challenging, but medium is fairly easy to become reasonably good
at (and if not, there is a practice mode to help you with the hardest
Possibly the best part of the whole idea though, is that pretty much everyone
wants to try. Even my mother has tried to play (and failed, much like
the rest of my family on the first try).
The songs you play are a fairly eclectic mix with something for anyone
who doesn't have some sort of deep-rooted hatred for guitars, and there
are quite a few of them, even if they are nearly all covers. They are
also from various decades. There is 50's rock, there is a pretty sweet
Rolling Stones song (and I'm not even a Stones fan!), the Police, Kiss,
Nirvana and the Foo Fighters. And for all you metalheads, there is Rush,
Black Sabbath and Lamb Of God. And this is only scratching the surface
of the regular songs and not mentioning the bonus songs, which is a mix
of great music and some just plain odd but great things (one word: Trogdor!).
And of course, all of this is wrapped up in an atmosphere that just oozes
rock from every pore. The sound in the audio menu is rated 1 to 11 in
true Spinal Tap fashion (and yes, Spinal Tap are also in the game), all
the characters are pretty funny parodies of everything (the fat Norwegian
black metal dude named Lars springs to mind), and the loading screen is
full of hints that are either useful for playing, or just there to put
that smile on your face by pointing out that a mini-fridge is more important
to have than a bassist (as a bassist, I would be offended if I didn't
find it so funny). And after each song you get paid, with various deductions
for things like starting fights or your crowd setting cars on fire. The
money can then be used to buy bonus songs, new guitars, new outfits, new
finishes for the guitar and new characters. The guitars are all either
real Gibson guitars, or over the top things you need to complete special
things to gain access to. The entire game is simply filled to the brim
with tributes and gags with the rock business, and for those who know
their rock trivia it is obvious Harmonix loves their rock music.
There are a few complaints to be had, however minor they might be. Some
of the covers are actually a bit slower than the original, but considering
one of these is Misirlou, and it still goes insanely fast on hard, I can
live with it. Likewise, a few songs are just terribly annoying to try
and play, but this is more than weighe dup for by the fact that some songs
are just so incredibly much fun to play. And there are more of the fun
ones than the bad ones. Strutter by Kiss and John the Fisherman by Primus
(and this is not a cover, making it all the more cool) are just fantastic,
as is the Beast and the Harlot by Avenged Sevenfold, or YYZ by Rush, and
the game delivers what I've at least always wanted to do, which is to
play Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine.
And this is the game that got me to really listen to Rage Against the
Machone, and discover the band Drist and the masterful Arterial Black,
who's former guitarist plays the guitar in the covers of the game.
And for those disappointed in the fact that there is still no Iron Maiden,
supposedly The Trooper is going to be in the Xbox 360 version, along with
My Chemical Romance's spectacularly awesome song Dead, as well as the
fact that the 360 version comes with a white flying V and supports downloadable
All in all, though the game hurts your wrists after a while (anyone who
said video game isn't exercise needs to play some of the faster songs),
there is still that feeling of wanting to play just one more song, wanting
to beat that song that is kicking you in the behind, and generally rock
Oh, and due to budget cutbacks, i have been unable to try the game in
multiplayer, but I am pretty sure it rocks.