Monday, February 20, 2006

VG REVIEW: Guitar Hero

Aaaaaand we're back. Sorry for the delay folks.

Red Octane, for PlayStation 2
rat­ed T for Teen (mild lyrics), $79.99

Do you secretly strum your tennis racket when no one is looking?

Do you insist upon silence when your favorite five-minute guitar solo comes on the radio?

Do you daydream about achieving rock stardom despite your own musical ineptitude?

Ladies and gentlemen, do you suffer from the pain of rockingout-itis?

Well, fear not dear reader, because “Guitar Hero” is here to save the day. Whether you are an ace shredder or barely able to finger a C chord, this game will have you feeling like a true heavy metal god in no time.

The game is the brainchild of Harmonix, creators of the popular “Karaoke Revolution” series and other notable rhythm-based games. “Guitar Hero” is similar in structure to those titles, but with one notable difference, a guitar-shaped controller.

Featuring five colored buttons along the fret, a “strum bar” and a whammy bar, the controller is meant to be used with you standing up, legs splayed in true rock form.

In the game, colored buttons scroll toward the player. By holding onto the matching fret button and hitting the strum bar at the right moment, you’re able to play the song. Miss too many notes and the band starts looking for a new guitarist.

Hitting the whammy bar on long notes raises your score. You can also raise your score through the Star Power meter. Fill it up by nailing a particular series of notes. Then, tilt your ax upward and watch your virtual counterpart do some crazy tricks that will drive the crowd wild.

Mention must be made of the soundtrack, which is impeccable, even though it’s mostly cover versions of popular songs. Classic tracks by Motorhead, Judas Priest, the Ramones, Megadeth, Jimi Hendrix and, of course, Black Sabbath, can all be found here. You might marvel at the exclusion of a particular artist (what, no AC/DC?) but it’s hard to argue with any of the songs included.

The one caveat is the huge spike in difficulty. I came off easy mode pretty sure of myself, only to be sweating bullets in normal mode and thoroughly trounced in hard mode. And for the love of God, don’t make me talk about expert mode.

That being the case, the game could really use a practice section to help you learn those trickier songs without risk of failure.

If you can afford the cost of an extra controller, definitely check out the multiplayer section, where you and a friend can rock out together, trading licks on a tune. (Yes, you can use a normal PS2 controller, but why would you want to?)

The genius of “Guitar Hero” is that it mimics actual, honest-to-goodness guitar playing close enough to maintain the illusion that you are actually playing the song and not just pressing a few buttons. And yet its setup is simple enough that you don’t feel the need to take lessons to succeed.

“Guitar Hero” is the rhythm game to end all rhythm games. The price might seem a tad high, but if you have a serious case of rockingout-itis, it’s worth every penny.

Copyright The Patriot-News, 2006


At 10:54 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I'm glad you were able to finally get a review copy! What a great game. I, too, got hung up on the hard level... I can't quite master that orange fret button or moving my hand up and down the fret to cover it.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Chris Mautner said...

Yeah, I gave up about halfway through the hard level, though I plan on going back to it sometime soon. It's definately the best rhythm/music game I've ever played, bar none. Well, maybe except for Parappa ...


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