Publisher: Red Octane
Release Date: November 28, 2006
Take one of the greatest, if not the greatest, rhythm-music games to ever enter the market. This is a game that lets you act like a virtual rock star, using an innovative controller that really makes you feel like you're on stage playing a guitar. It's got tons of songs that have universal appeal, and difficulty modes that challenge even expert guitar players, yet are still accessible to the complete newbie.
Take all of this guitar perfection… and now, pretend as if it were just practice for the real thing.
Do that, and you'll understand the jump from the original Guitar Hero to Guitar Hero II.
Adding 55 new songs and calling it a day would be more than enough, but Red Octane and Harmonix have gone above and beyond the call of duty, and pretty much everything that was in the first game is getting an overhaul, and then some.
For starters, the fundamentals of the game have changed. Now players can choose to play a lead guitar, bass, or rhythm track for a song. Each of these three tracks is unique and presents its own challenges. This means that, while songs were tough enough to master before, it could potentially take months to master every single song on the disc. A revamped Career Mode is in place for single players, allowing players to once again go from a guitar zero to a Guitar Hero, this time by way of artist endorsements. Three new characters will be able to take part in this mode, as well as the old ones.
As if that weren't enough, the Practice Mode that all guitar-heads have been clamoring for ever since the first game came out will finally be included — now you can zero in on those tricky riffs, chords and solos and practice them until your fingers bleed.
One of the biggest changes for the sequel is in the multiplayer mode. Anyone who bought two guitars for Guitar Hero soon got a rude awakening. The multiplayer, while not all that bad, was rarely more fun than taking turns competing for a high score using whole songs instead of playing the competitive mode, which chopped songs into unbalanced halves.
Among other new additions are a Versus Mode, which doesn't chop up the songs, and a Survival Mode. Finally, there's the co-op mode, which allows two people to cooperate on a song using two of the three potential guitar tracks. To use Star Power gathered in this mode, both players must tilt up their guitars at the same time. It's also possible for both players to simultaneously lose, should neither of them perform the song to expectations. It's easily the coolest mode in the game so far, allowing both players to experience the feel of performing a guitar duet.
Guitar Hero II is coming in November, and it's going to, for lack of a better phrase, rock the house. No word on if there will be a separately packaged version without the guitar to accommodate the people who already have two, but here's hoping. For now, let's just practice up so as to make the excruciatingly long wait just a little more bearable.
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