Things we've noticed while playing Guitar Hero II: using more than three fret buttons is unbelievably hard; real guitar players pour scorn on anyone who selects Easy difficulty; and it still draws as big a crowd as the first game, with everyone in the office wanting a go.
It isn't often that a game can captivate even non-gamers, but it's a sign of Guitar Hero II's everyman appeal that we've had to employ security to guard the plastic, guitar-shaped controllers from anyone wanting to take them home for the night.
Nothing has changed in the way you strum along to each track, with the easiest difficulty restricting the number of buttons to three, the medium setting introducing four buttons and the concept of pressing two at the same time, and the two difficulty levels beyond that driving anyone but Jimi Hendrix to despair. Succeed in pressing notes circled by a star and you fill the Star Power meter, which doubles your points when you tilt the controller upward in true rock god fashion to activate it.
As before, tracks are divided into a number of categories based on the complexity of their note arrangement. If you want to unlock hidden songs and videos you'll need to play the Career mode on Medium difficulty, but otherwise you can just play to unlock songs for the Quick Play mode. The Career mode is actually a little disappointing, changing nothing from the original bar a few useless gifts from sponsors and a more detailed breakdown of your stats across each verse and chorus of the song. It's a pity you can't choose to play lead or rhythm guitar in the single-player game like you can in multiplayer, for example.
The tracks themselves are of much better quality than in Guitar Hero, both in terms of the selection and the cover versions. The vocals are closer to the real thing, even when apeing distinctive frontmen such as Kurt Cobain, and you can't argue with a line-up that boasts Guns N' Roses, the Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Rage Against the Machine and many more. Every decade and spectrum of rock is covered by the 55 tracks, and this time around even the unlockable tunes are by bands you'll probably have heard of.
WE COULD BE HEROES
While the single-player game will keep you hooked for months as you perfect your skills and try to move up the difficulty levels, it's the new co-op multiplayer mode that confirms Guitar Hero II as the best party game around. One player takes lead guitar and the other takes rhythm or bass guitar depending on the song, and a separate difficulty level can also be selected in case you're playing with someone far better or worse than you are (not that
the rubbish person will want to admit it). You also share the same Rock meter, so you'll be relying on each other not to hit too many bum notes. There's no shame in looking like a bit of a tit either, since both players need to tilt their guitars upwards at the same time to trigger Star Power. Both of you might think you look like Kurt Cobain when in fact you look like Status Quo. Now, how about fourplayer jams for Guitar Hero III?
Multiplayer is so much fun that it's probably worth buying the Guitar Hero II bundle even if you already own a controller from the original game. However you want to play it, you probably won't find a more addictive and possibly even challenging game on PS2. Rock on.
As addictive as the first only with better tracks. Now it's time for some themed spin-off games.
- Terrific selection of tunes
- Controller still feels great
- Two-player co-op is good fun
- No progression elsewhere