Guitar Hero II – PlayStation 2
Platform: Sony PlayStation 2
Release Date (NA): November 7th, 2006
Genre: Music and Rhythm
Nerd Rating: 9.75 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
Fuck. Yes. Does anybody remember the 1st time they rocked a fuckin’ plastic axe plugged into their PlayStation 2? Because I sure as shit do. And I’m not talkin’ about a lumberjack’s axe. I’m talkin’ about a plastic replica of a Gibson SG 6-string electric guitar. Except who needs strings when we’ve got 5 colored buttons? Exactly. Boom. Welcome to Guitar Hero… THE SEQUEL.
*Author’s Note: For those who do not know: the Guitar Hero franchise comprises a number of games in which the player wields a controller shaped like a guitar. As notes move across the screen, the player must synchronize their strumming of the “pick” while pressing the appropriate matching colored button on the “strings” of the guitar. If you miss too many notes, you will get booed off stage and lose. You succeed by completing a song in its entirety without getting booed off stage. You win by completing all songs.
Guitar Hero II takes everything from Guitar Hero 1 and makes it so much better. It’s like Guitar Hero 1 was unsatisfied with itself, so it tried to commit suicide by swallowing a grenade, except once it exploded, out came Guitar Hero II. It’s that good. I might be overstating its improvements just a tad, but it is one hell of a game, that’s for sure.
The music rhythm genre has come a long way since 2006. PaRappa the Rapper is often known as the grandfather of the rhythm genre; and although other games would beat Guitar Hero to the punch when it comes to musical instrument controllers, namely Samba de Amigo and Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat, the Guitar Hero franchise put the genre on the map. The series became a household name in just 12 months once Guitar Hero II hit the shelves. In fact, Guitar Hero II is the 2nd best selling game of 2006, behind only Gears of War.
Guitar Hero II was released just 1 year after Guitar Hero 1, instantly dethroning the original gaming giant that set
the world on fire. Guitar Hero II flew off the shelves and rocked the world’s face off. I remember the time vividly as if it were yesterday. When Guitar Hero II was the hot item (late 2006 to early 2008), I was in my early 20s; the perfect age for social video gaming. I was attending a University down by the beaches of North Carolina, so the influx of youth was at a constant flow. You’d be hard-pressed to find a house party that didn’t have a PS2 and at least one plastic guitar plugged into it. The cultural impact of these original 2 games may be forgotten by most, but it was a whirlwind of excitement and good ol’ fun. In fact, the game was SO epic, it was responsible for me splitting my PS2 A/V cables all the way down so I could hook the video cable into my cathode-ray tube television and the left & right audio cables into my 5-disc changer / double cassette shelf stereo system. Go big or go home, I always say.
Guitar Hero II‘s biggest and most bodacious feature was a list of bitchin’ rock tunes including songs from smash acts Lynyrd Skynyrd, Motley Crue, Guns n’ Roses, Cheap Trick, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Van Halen, Rush, KISS, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, The Rolling Stones, and so many more. Trust me, these are not the only big name acts I left off of the initial “smash acts” list. Guitar Hero II was testament to the fact that you can’t just look good and have responsive controls… You gotta have songs that people know. That’s the difference between being just another music and rhythm game and being THE BIGGEST music and rhythm game ever made (up to that point in time)! Badass cover-art on a CD booklet NEVER equates to a great album, does it? The only true merit by which a music album can be critiqued is the quality of its tracks. Nothing else! In that category, Guitar Hero II takes the cake and eats it too. Isn’t that how the saying goes? Errrr… something like that. But you get the point I’m trying to make here.
The track list is expansive but mostly lingers between classic rock and 80s/90s heavy metal. Sure the genres can be broken down even more and one could say the game includes hair metal and grunge and thrash, but overall, the playlist is tight-knit but varied at the same time. For those of you out there who don’t care much for rock, you might struggle to become fully acclimated to the bevy of hipsters, stoners, and other stereotypical characteristics of the game’s main demographic. But if you’re reading this, then you probably already know: Guitar Hero II is quite renowned for its track listing, track order, and rapid ascension in face-melting-guitar-solo-difficulty as the game progresses.
I’m a big fan of the artistic direction in the series as a whole, but I have to say… the animation and graphics in Guitar Hero II are 2 Legit 2 Quit. Every menu and loading screen is loaded with artistic style in heavy metal fashion. As I work my way through the campaign mode’s myriad menu pages, I feel like I’m standing in a seedy bathroom with a long urinal trough, dim lights, an overflowing pile of trash in the corner, and flat beer and piss on the floor. That’s right. The line to the trough is long, you say? Well piss in the sink! I just did. You’re not playing a video game anymore. You’re at the show. That’s the whole vibe. Instead of giving you a list of songs that you choose to “play to,” you have to earn your way up the ladder as an unsigned, unknown garage band playing their first gig. This was a great move to immerse gamer’s in the game’s culture.
Your set is 3 to 4 songs with 1 encore, depending on the game’s difficulty. Once you successfully complete a set, you will unlock a new set of songs and move onto the next arena for your next gig. The sets get more challenging as you progress, but they move at a fantastic pace. You may occasionally feel as if the song is impossible to beat, but you can always bump yourself back down in the difficulty settings. Easy, Medium, Hard, Expert. If you can’t figure out the easiest setting, maybe you should do something else with your life.
My biggest complaint against Guitar Hero II, and one that most would agree with, is the quality of the songs being covered. Ya see, nearly all of the songs, if not all of them, are covers. I remember hearing that there was a request for more master tracks and less covers, but I don’t know the final result of that request. But I can definitely spot some covers here, which are occasionally questionable ONLY IF you are a big fan of that particular band/song. Some songs are noticeably different, others are nearly perfect renditions to the point that I’m unsure of whether or not they are covers or originals. Regardless of the fact that some tracks are slightly “off,” they are still, for the most part, of extremely high quality.
Overall, Guitar Hero II does not fail to impress. With its star-studded cast of bands, killer tunes, improved note recognition system, and rock solid multiplayer modes, there’s bound to be more smiles than frowns when someone turns on their PS2 at the next party. What? You’re telling me people don’t play PlayStation 2 anymore? Oh well. Their loss. I really enjoy taking myself back in time with Guitar Hero II… and to believe that it wasn’t even all that long ago! I might be a little more subjective than I should be, but my opinions don’t matter. The people have spoken! Guitar Hero II currently holds a 92% aggregate score on GameRankings.com, the highest rating for any Guitar Hero game to-date! If that’s not saying something about the quality of this music and rhythm game, then I don’t know how else to break it down to you.
If I leave here tomorrow
Would you still remember me?
For I must be traveling on now
There’s too many places I got to see
Nerd Rating: 9.75 out of 10
Reviewed by Nerdberry
REJECTED QUOTE OF THE DAY
It’s like Guitar Hero intercoursed itself, gave birth to a little baby, and named that baby Guitar Hero II. And when that baby grew up, it started dating Sony’s sexiest daughter, Lady PlayStation 2. A year later, Guitar Hero II had an affair with Microsoft’s daughter, Madam Xbox 360, a much more voluptuously curvaceous and vivacious lover. Those of us who knew Guitar Hero II and Lady PlayStation 2 when they were dating can definitely vouch for their passion. There’s nothing like original love and true compatibility. Although, if you run internet through Madam Xbox 360’s rockin’ bod, you can download new songs and stuff. So that’s pretty cool.
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