Thursday, January 18, 2007

Guitar Hero Review

Guitar HeroFirst, sorry it's been two months. Happy New Year!

My friend Andy has a Playstation 2 and Guitar Hero II, so I got to noodle with it at the end of last year. Sadly, I was hooked, and I spent the better part of the first two weeks of 2007 trying to find myself a decent sale on a PS2 so I wouldn't feel too guilty about getting one just to play this game. Ebay prices were awful, but as luck would have it, I stumbled across a local guy whose tween son was selling his (gottta get the PS3!), so I got one for a mere $60. It even came with an extra regular controller and steering wheel attachment.

Then it was off to get myself GH2, which turned into a small nightmare, because the Christmas rush had demolished store stock of the game. But oh yes, I am diligent, so it was mine. And hell, my awesome friends even got me the original game plus an extra guitar controller (wireless, no less), so I am fully prepared to pass my comments unto you.

Bottom line - the game is stupendous (read my initial post here if you do not know anything about the game and how to play it). The songs included on both games are great, and the Harmonix (developers of the game) musicians did a fine job of replicating the songs (both in tone and in what's being played). Hell, it even got me to learn how to play "Surrender" by Cheap Trick for real. Here's a smattering of what you'll find:
  • "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones (GH1)
  • "Cowboys From Hell" by Pantera (GH1)
  • "More Than a Feeling" by Boston (GH1)
  • "Higher Ground" by Stevie Wonder, as performed by Red Hot Chili Peppers (GH1)
  • "Unsung" by Helmet (GH1)
  • "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead (GH1)
  • "Mother" by Danzig (GH2)
  • "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" by Spinal Tap (GH2)
  • "Message In a Bottle" by The Police (GH2)
  • "Them Bones" by Alice In Chains (GH2)
  • "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath (GH2)
  • "Girlfriend" by Matthew Sweet (GH2)
  • "Institutionalized" by Suicidal Tendencies (GH2)
  • "Hangar 18" by Megadeth (GH2)
You might even learn a thing or two about real guitar playing. Power chords are often spaced a fret apart (just like real ones), and you'll even learn the nifty "add a pinky to the power chord" trick that was made famous in songs like "Johnny B. Goode". You can add tremolo to any song by depressing the controller's fake whammy bar, and the note's tone will continually bend flat depending on how much pressure you apply, then back to pitch when you release. Amazing.

And let's not forget the co-op mode in Guitar Hero II, where you can grab a friend to play lead or bass guitar alongside your rhythm rockin'.

My orginal comments on it are still pretty accurate when it comes to the negatives of the game. I feel that at times what you need to play doesn't 100% match the song, and it's especially noticible if you play guitar. There's an extra note in the main riff of "Thunder Kiss '65", for example, that the game simply doesn't have you play, but I continued to play it, causing my streak to die out, which drove me mad until I figured out the problem.

And there's no question that when you reach hard mode it gets atrociously bad (especially in GH2, where the difference between medium and hard is gargantuanly huge). Songs like "Stop!" by Jane's Addiction have you flying all over the neck after the initial intro riff, even though the real guitar line isn't nearly this difficult. Additionally, it's not easy to keep up a successful streak of down-muted power chords (like in the Priest's "You Got Another Thing Comin'") because the game is brutal with regards to monitoring and grading your preciseness.

And in Guitar Hero II, the third song that you play on hard mode, "Woman" by Wolfmother, is so fantastically difficult, that by the time you get to the solo, you will find yourself throwing the guitar controller at the TV set in frustration. I don't even want to think about how awful this song is on what I shall dub "Eric Johnson difficulty".

And that, my friends, sums up the only negative things I have to say about the game. These problems are miniscule compared to the genius that the developers have thrust upon us.

Bottom line: if you own a PS2, and have any interest whatsoever in guitar-oriented rock, buy these games. Hell, do as I did and buy a PS2 just to play this game. It's probably a bit tricky at first for those who don't play real guitar, but they put crack on the controller, so I guarantee you'll be playing until the sun comes up.


Anonymous AJB said...

I have to say - playing co-op mode for "You Got Another Thing Comin'" is fantastically fun. The game makes the two players trade off bursts of lead guitar, just like K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton. OK, not EXACTLY like those guys, but it's still a blast.

1:37 PM  

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