Guitar Hero 2 (PS2)
Red Octane, 2006
By Glenn Given firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know that the opening licks from Rush’s instrumental opus “YYZ” actually spell out YYZ in morse code? Did you know that it is also unbelievably difficult to play unless you’re part of a trio of Canadian super nerds? Welcome to Guitar Hero 2.
Boston developer Red Octane takes air guitar out of Journey’s “Seprate Ways” video and puts it into your living room, but, like, with a guitar-controller-thing. The guitar peripheral seems goofy at first, especially if you have actually played a guitar before. It’s small, lightweight and feels like a child’s toy, but few children will ever shred Megadeth’s “Hangar 18” or Primus’ “John the Fisherman” as GH2 enables you to.
The core gameplay of Guitar Hero remains: players must match falling colored notes and chords with fret buttons and strumming in time with the music, thereby providing the lead guitar licks of over 55 songs (not including a double handful of unlockable tracks from various New England bands like Acro-brats, Made in Mexico and Drist). Accurate performance racks up score multipliers and powers up your Star Power which, when activated by rocktastically tipping your guitar, further multiplies your score and makes the animated crowd go nuts over your avatar’s onstage antics.
It sounds simple, and compaired to actually playing these songs “fo reals” it is. But since very very few of us can play like Eddie Van Halen (or even QVC stalwart Esteban) it’s quite daunting on anything other than the easiest level. Of course you’ll have to succeed at the higher difficulties in order to build gig money to buy new guitars, guitarists and costumes. GH2 adds a few new game modes to the formula with dual guitar face-offs and co-op song modes. The practice mode is another welcome addition, allowing you to select sections of songs and run through them to assuage the “Oh noes! My pinkies can’t goes that way!” that sets in when you reach “Free Bird”’s solo.
Guitar Hero 2 is a great title undoubtably but there are a few nits to pick. Oh dear Satan why must nearly all of the songs be cover versions? Why lord of all things rock can I not, in the glory days of interblogotube connectivity, download my favorite songs? And why, dark master of face-melting whammybared riffs, does Avenged Sevenfold deserve a track on this otherwise unbesmirched set list? For those, and for the sake of my painfully cramped fingers GH2 scores a mere A-
— Glenn Given