Guitar Hero II: First Impressions

Like everyone else with a PS2 and even a little bit of soul in them, I bought Guitar Hero II this week.

I’m still getting used to it, but here are some quick impressions. Likes: They seem to have increased the overall difficulty of the songs, but they coupled it with making the overall mechanics noticeably easier. The game is much more forgiving now, and much more likely to spot you “almost” notes. Hammer ons and pull offs are a thousand times easier, since they got rid of the requirement that you have all the notes held down when you start them. And “Trogdor” is a bonus song. The red guitar is nicer looking than the black one. The new multiplayer cooperative mode, which lets one player play lead while the other plays rhythm or bass is also a nice touch, although I think it’s dumb that you can fail the song. And, of course, the practice mode is essential for old, slow guys like me.

Dislikes: as in the previous game, the indicator that a note is hammerable-on is way too subtle for my tastes. I want something obvious. Like perhaps a glowing electric gopher holding a neon sign that says “DO A HAMMER ON ON THIS NOTE, SCHMUCK —->” I also don’t like the new model for Pandora.

Neutral: I’m not thrilled with the song selection; I wanted more power pop and less metal. But I recognize that that’s not really a reasonable request for a game about being a guitar rock god. Fortunately, there are Guitar Hero clones for the PC (and, apparently, for the Mac also!), so if I really want to play guitar along to Code Monkey, I can. Albeit with much less polish. This, more than anything, was why I didn’t wait for the Xbox 360 version, along with its innumerable opportunities to spend more money on music I already own.

In summary, if you are one of the people who would rather play Final Fantasy XII instead of this game, you are clinically dead.