Players: 1 to 2 Player Game | Release Date: 11/07/06 | Genre: Music
Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably seen and played the original Guitar Hero. If you haven't—shame on you! For the rest of us who have eagerly counted down the days until we could jam out to new tracks and play a co-op mode with a buddy, Guitar Hero 2 has finally arrived. While it is largely more of the same, when you have a game this good, that is not a bad thing.
Single player gameplay is pretty close to the same experience as the first game. However, this mode is necessary to unlock the majority of songs. As you begin, players will have to name their band and choose their guitarist. I went for the biggest and ugliest of the bunch. Thus began my career as a lead guitar player for the hottest rock 'n roll band in all of the world! But before we could get very cocky about our newfound careers as musicians, we first had to rock out to a high school. As we completed the required songs, our band was signed to play at bigger venues. Playing equals popularity, popularity equals more songs to unlock, and the farther you progress, the more items you can purchase at the in-game store.
But lets not kid ourselves here. The single player portion of Guitar Hero 2 is only a necessary component to unlock songs and other items so we can have fun with the multiplayer element. Like the first Guitar Hero, this is the mode where you will be spending the majority of your time. However, this time around, Harmonix has done an even better job with this mode despite not including online play. Seriously, where is the online play? Fortunately playing with a friend is still a lot of fun. New to Guitar Hero 2 is the ability to play cooperatively instead of trying to outperform the other play. While you can still play against another in a head to head mode, the new co-op mode really adds a lot to the experience.
The way Harmonix has set things up, one player takes lead guitar and the other will jam out on either the bass or rhythm guitar (depending on the song). However, you will need to work together. Should your buddy keep screwing up the song, you will be kicked off the stage and will have the restart the song. The biggest problem I found with the co-op mode is that it can be fairly difficult to time out your star power –which has to be performed at the same time. However, the joy of playing with another person next to you makes this problem easily forgettable.
Harmonix also has taken into account that you may want to play with people of different skill levels. So if you are trying to get an inexperienced friend/spouse/sibling into the game, you can select the difficulty level for each person in co-op mode. This can keep the game challenging for one player while making things much easier for another.
Visually you won't find many differences from the first Guitar Hero title. The biggest difference is that the sets you play at have some interesting backgrounds and effects. One of my favorites was when the audience started waving around lighters while we jammed out on stage. True the graphics may not be life-like or realistic, but when you have an actual guitar you are strumming on, who needs next-gen graphics?
Guitar Hero 2 features a lot of variety in the song list and there are many songs to unlock and discover during the many hours you will spend with this game. However, I personally am not a fan of a lot of the songs. They can all be enjoyable but I would have preferred the inclusion of even more bands and more well-known songs. Perhaps we will see the inclusion of downloadable song packs when the game is released on the Xbox 360 and on other future “next-gen” installments. It would be nice to offer some sort of expansion pack for the PS2 that could only be accessed if you have a save from Guitar Hero 2 already present.
With a much higher difficulty level, tons of songs and items to unlock, an awesome co-op mode, and the same great guitar controller you have come to love, Guitar Hero 2 is one of the must-have games this holiday season. The inclusion of online play would have made this game near perfection. However, even with offline multiplayer, Guitar Hero 2 belongs in your PlayStation 2. I highly recommend this game.