Guitar Hero 2 for the PlayStation 2 has managed to attract an incredible number of fans, from casual video games fans to hardcore gamers, as well as people who do not usually play video games. With the guitar controller in hand, it’s fun to live out rock god fantasies jamming to some great rock songs, as well as some less mainstream ones.
With tracks from The Rolling Stones, Rage Against the Machine, The Police, The Allman Brothers Band, The Foo Fighters, Aerosmith, Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath, Nirvana, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jane’s Addiction, there are songs just about anyone would recognize and can enjoy playing. The music for this game spans decades of rock music history, showing the progression and experimentation of many wonderful bands over the years.
A game this accessible and addictive does not come around too often. Is it the seemingly simple game play that is easy to pick up and play, while at the same time offering hardcore gamers a steep challenge?
Is it the addictive multiplayer modes that allow one to rock out with or against friends? Or could it be that most people have dreamed of being a rock star and may not have much musical talent? Whatever the case is, this game is something special and has an extraordinarily broad appeal.
Guitar Hero 2 takes the mechanics of playing a guitar and simplifies them in such a way that being a musical prodigy isn’t necessary. Are the six strings on a standard electric guitar too much? This guitar has only one to worry about on the Guitar Hero controller. There are only five fret buttons to keep track of, instead of using the full guitar neck, which lets one play all the various notes.
It sounds much simpler than a stock guitar, and it is, but the speed of the game and tricky transitions between notes keep the challenge going. Included in Guitar Hero 2 are lead, rhythm and bass guitar sections which can be played simultaneously in multiplayer.
It’s surprising to see that some of the most well known artists from the first game aren’t represented again on the sequel. Jimi Hendrix, Incubus, Sum 41 and Cream are all noticeably absent.
Along with these omissions, there are some nice new features like a training mode that lets the player slow down a song to work on whatever difficult section he/she is having trouble with. Players can again tour the country in career mode, starting in a high school battle of the bands, playing other venues such as the Warped Tour, and putting on a show at Stonehenge. While touring, players earn money that can be put towards buying new guitars, characters and songs.
Fans of the original will recognize some of the playable characters, each representing a kind of rock music, such as Axel Steel, the denim-wearing-hard-rocker, Xavier Stone, the Jimi Hendrix-inspired-rocker, Izzy Sparks, the hair-metal-rocker and Clive Winston, the hip-60’s- rocker.
The cast is rounded out with a few new performers like Eddie Knox the Elvis-haired-rocker, as well as the return of the unlockable sythe-wielding-guitarist, the Grim Reaper.
This game is not perfect and when players get tired of the playable songs their only option is to pick up the original game. The first installment does not have as many features, but includes some incredible music.
Other than that, players are out of luck and are forced to wait for the next sequel, which hasn’t even been announced yet, but is surely in the works.
The Guitar Hero franchise could really benefit from downloadable content from the internet. In April, Guitar Hero will enter the next generation of gaming when it arrives on the Xbox 360. With Microsoft’s Xbox Live online service for Xbox 360, people could conceivably download new individual songs to play.
Many people have complained that their favorite bands are not represented in the game and downloadable content could conceivably fix that.
Hopefully a similar service will be introduced in the future. It is even possible that more instruments could be introduced in the future. One thing is certain though, Guitar Hero 2, with all its flaws, still makes for a fun and unique game experience that more and more people are enjoying.