Sunday, October 29, 2006

PS2 review: Guitar Hero (10/10)

Yep, that's right, we're going back to Sony's final successful entry into the console wars. This came out quite some time ago, but I held off on buying it because I had other games I was playing early in the year (like Oblivion and, well, Oblivion). So my brother ends up getting it for me for my birthday, which is why I'm reviewing it now and not six months ago.

It rocks.

If you haven't seen the game, it's a guitar version of the karaoke-style games that have come out for the PS2, the ones where you sing along with popular songs and are scored based on how you match the melody. You use a special controller that works more like a bass than a lead guitar, with five buttons instead of frets, a wedge-shaped strum button instead of strings, and a whammy bar.

There are four levels of difficulty, easy, medium, hard, and expert, and different sets of songs with increasing difficulty within each level (the songs are mostly the same throughout, but you get more songs at the higher levels). I've made it through the easy and medium songs so far ...

For the easy songs, you're basically playing rhythm guitar to the main melody, with single notes spaced evenly and maybe a few chords thrown in, all on the first three buttons. The songs range from Joan Jett and Deep Purple to very-simplified Clapton and Hendrix (and even simplified, they can be a challenge). I was able to go straight through the easy songs, getting five-star reviews the first time in almost every set, and nothing less than four stars.

By the medium songs, you're playing lead, although you won't have to hit every note in some songs. The difficulty ranges from slightly harder Joan Jett and Deep Purple to Pantera and Randy Rhoades ... for these, during the first couple of sets, I could still knock out four- and five-star reviews. By the final set, there were points in the song where I basically gave up and waited for the next measure.

I think my bass background helped me because I was basically doing this type of thing, listening to a song and playing along, so at the easiest levels, I was right at home. I'm getting to the point where I'll have to work on picking rather than plucking (to play up and down rather than just down) to hit the really fast notes.

If you play a real guitar, you may not like this game as much for a couple of reasons. One is that it is definitely not like playing a real guitar (because otherwise, very few people would be able to play it). The other is that you can actually get the feeling that you're able to play Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughan, and we all know that you can't.

For everyone else, if you have any interest in guitar playing at all, by all means, get this game, and set some money aside to get Guitar Hero 2 (although I'm waiting for the 360 version).

zlionsfan's rating: 11. It's one louder.

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