Guitar Hero PS2 Review

The time has arrived to chuck those embarrassing air guitars out the window. No longer do we need to pretend to play those songs we have all dreamed of playing – now we can on a lovely plastic accessory in the shape of a guitar. Guitar Hero has finally arrived and it destroys the rhythm genre to hell and back, ROCK ON!

I Love Rock and Roll

Guitar Hero is a rhythm game by Harmonix (Creators of Frequency and Amplitude) that allows the user to play along to a selection of 47 different songs using a unique Gibson SG shaped guitar peripheral. The game does have the option to use the PS2 controller, but that’s just not a choice if you want to experience the game for all it’s worth. Playing with a controller just makes it seem dull and uninteresting – you don’t want to do that do you?

The plastic Gibson SG itself is well built and feels solid. It’s about two and a half feet in length, features five fret buttons on the neck, a small bar of plastic on the face called a strummer that you hit to play the note, a whammy bar and a strap so you can hang it around yourself while flashing off your rocker pose. The peripheral is incorporated into the game extremely well; to play a note you hold down the right colour button and strum the bar as the note passes the coloured circles at the bottom of the TV screen.

The game plays in pretty much the same vain as every other rhythm game out there. The screen displays a guitar neck with frets which travel down towards the bottom of the screen, on the frets are coloured notes that you need to play when they pass into the playing area at the bottom. If you manage to consecutively hit each note, you will build up a multiplier (2x, 3x, 4x), which means higher scores. In addition to the multiplier are star shaped notes, and if played, build up your Star Power meter. This is where the fun part comes in – once the Star Power is usable, you have to tilt your guitar upwards to activate it; activation means doubling of the multiplier. Star Power can also be a life saver as hitting the notes whilst in Star Power mode raises your rock metre faster allowing you stay in the game longer. This adds an element of strategy as playing on harder settings means you either have a choice of saving your multiplier for those sections with lots of notes or using it on an easier area to build back up your health.

Harmonix have managed to make the game accessible to everyone by having the difficulty settings learning the user. Starting on easy you’ll be only using three of the five fret buttons, normal uses 4 fret buttons and hard and expert include the fifth and final fret button. Harmonix has also made sure that the career song list starts out with the songs that use the addition buttons the least, so you gradually grow used to using your pinky and shifting your hands up and down the buttons as you progress. To conquer the higher difficulty settings, you can use some real guitar techniques. Guitar Hero allows the use of hammer-ons, pull-offs and up down strumming. The game has tutorials to help non guitar players to understand when to use them, mastering these will surely give you more success in reaching “Guitar God” status.

Symphony of Destruction

You can’t have a great rhythm game without fantastic music and Guitar Hero is no exception. It has arguably one the best the genre has seen and is so accurately fitting. Thirty top artists have their songs covered, yes that is right, covered, and done reasonably well. You are always going to notice the singers aren’t as great as the originals, but most of the songs do sound pretty close for covers. The guitars have all been re-recorded and are evident in the older selection of songs.

The thirty licensed songs are:

• Motorhead – “Ace of Spades”
• Ozzie Osbourne – “Bark at the Moon”
• Audioslave – “Cochise”
• Pantera – “Cowboys From Hell”
• Cream – “Crossroads”
• Sum 41 – “Fat Lip”
• Edgar Winter Group – “Frankenstein”
• Blue Oyster Cult – “Godzilla”
• Burning Brides – “Heart Full of Black”
• The Exies – “Hey You”
• Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Higher Ground”
• Joann Jett – “I Love Rock and Roll”
• The Ramones – “I Wanna Be Sedated”
• Bad Religion – “Infected”
• Black Sabbath – “Iron Man”
• Queen – “Killer Queen”
• Boston – “More Than A Feeling”
• Queens of the Stone Age – “No One Knows”
• ZZ Top – “Sharp Dressed Man”
• Deep Purple – “Smoke on the Water”
• Jimi Hendrix – “Spanish Castle Magic”
• Incubus – “Stellar”
• Megadeth – “Symphony of Destruction”
• The Donnas – “Take It Off”
• Franz Ferdinand – “Take Me Out”
• Stevie Ray Vaughn – “Texas Flood”
• White Zombie – “Thunderkiss 65”
• Helmet – “Unsung”
• Judas Priest – “You Got Another Thing Comin”
• David Bowie – “Ziggy Stardust”

After that I bet I know what you are all thinking,” WHAT THE?! Where’s Metallica? Paul Gilbert? Satriani?” Harmonix has explained that they tried contacting various artists to get songs into the game; they either couldn’t or never got a reply back. Even without other famous artists, it’s still an awesome soundtrack. Maybe now that Guitar Hero has become well known and fairly successful that the sequel will be filled with the bands that were missing. As an added bonus there are also seventeen unlockable songs from indie rock bands and are notably not covers.

Sharp Dressed Man

The game doesn’t go for a serious look – it’s somewhat cartoony, but it still just feels right. It presents that rock feeling to you. You won’t be getting any fancy bump mapping and the likes with Guitar Hero‘s graphics; you never really do with music games, but the game presents some great artistic work – simple yet pleasant. It has stylish looking arenas and characters that animate your guitar playing very well. The singer sings, the drummer drums and the guitarist guitars at pretty much the right time, consideration has gone into the modest details. It’s just a shame that most of the time you’ll be just too busy concentrating on the notes to even take notice.

Don’t think you’ll be finishing Guitar Hero swiftly – it will kick your arse. Seriously. If you jump straight into “Bark at the Moon” on expert, expect the grim reaper himself to rain hell on you. If you are a perfectionist then you can also try and achieve the five stars rating on each song. There are lots of things to do and even failing makes you want to have another go, it’s addictive and a load of fun. Multiplayer is pretty straight forward – you’ll battle each other by playing sections of the song. Nothing else is included apart from ‘versus’ in the multiplayer section. Online also has an absence, but it doesn’t matter – it’s not needed one bit.

If there is one minor problem with Guitar Hero (it’s only really a minute thing at that), is when playing on the easier settings, some of the notes aren’t there. It’s obviously to make the song simpler to play, but because of that you sometimes play those extra notes and thus making yourself lose your multiplier, it’s something that can’t really be solved by the game.

Stellar

Guitar Hero is without a doubt one of the best rhythm games of all time. It mixes a fantastic gaming peripheral with an extraordinary and approachable gaming experience. It’s a perfect game to play by yourself or with a group of friends, be it taking turns or playing guitar battles. Even if you don’t like the genre; you still owe yourself to give it a try. It’s one of those games that everyone has to experience. Play it now, right now, STOP LOOKING HERE AND GO BUY IT! Oh yeah, the score.

9.1 out of 10

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