Each year there is usually one or two games that come out and just manage to really take the market by storm. Examples of this have been games like Katamari Damacy, which took a simple idea and literally rolled with it. Last year it was a music game, which was entitled Guitar Hero, which proved you could literally make a fantastic game based off of a peripheral sold with the game. This was one of the most addictive and entertaining games of this decade, and thus here in 2006 we are seeing the sequel to the highly praised Guitar Hero in Guitar Hero II for the Playstation 2. So can the second game keep the same great feel of the first? Read our full review to find out!
Coming in working on a sequel is no easy task, especially for a game like Guitar Hero II, which is following one of the best PS2 games of all time. The big question when coming into this game is what is different, and has the year brought enough new stuff to make it worthwhile to give up your high scores on the original to come onto the sequel? Well my answer to everything is yes, yes, and yes!
Guitar Hero II is a game that in every way shape and form is a far superior game then what we saw in last year’s amazing experience. First off, one of the big things that happened during this year has been the inclusion of a lot of much bigger name bands. In fact, with bands such as Aerosmith and Nirvana, you’re even more likely to recognize some of your favorites to play throughout the game. The song list in general is just much improved. The songs themselves are also even of better quality, which really helps the overall experience of the game.
Much of Guitar Hero II has remained the same from what you saw in last year’s game, as the core gameplay is exactly how most will remember it. The career mode at first looks a little different, but for the most part you still have sections broken down into five songs. Another big new feature in this year’s game is the practice mode, which allows you to take songs you’re having trouble with, and play different sections of it to really perfect it. This really just shows the level of depth as compared to the original, as many were literally memorizing all if not most of the songs and being able to do it with no problems. The practice mode really allows you to slow down and get the hang of songs, so when you’re ready you can kick the difficulty level up and give the songs a go.
One of the biggest request from fans who have mastered the original is to have the sequel at pretty much the same difficulty level. Well let me be the bear of bad news for some who wanted to remain perfect, Guitar Hero II is leaps and bounds more difficult than what we saw last year. Not only are things faster on the higher difficulty levels, but now you even have to hit the occasional three note strums, which just takes the challenge up a few more notches. The game manages to really make really challenging, requiring players to take a lot more time to master, and one that really makes it so much fun to keep working on songs to try your best to perfect them.
Another huge draw is of course the multiplayer, which is basically cooperative play where you and a friend play through the same song with two guitars. You can take one lead guitar while your friend can be on bass duty, for example. The cooperative play is really a lot of fun, and if you are with a good friend you will really get to see some extreme rocking to some great tunes, which is really what the Guitar Hero II experience is all about.
In the end, Guitar Hero II manages to improve the experience every step of the way. Wherever you would want things to improve, Guitar Hero II managed to go even beyond that. Whether it is still the great peripheral (the guitar which is just so natural), the expanded song list, the amazing cooperative play, or even the extra challenge, Guitar Hero II from a gameplay standpoint just once again went leaps and bounds over the original and makes some extra improvements to give you the ultimate guitar experience.
Although the visual department is not the biggest concern for any game in the music genre, you would be surprised how great the visuals of Guitar Hero II really are. First off, the original game looked great, but you can see that there have been some added animations in Guitar Hero II that really help to make the experience an even more enjoyable one. One of the key factors in this is the use of color and lighting, which kind of sets the mood for a great rock concert event. Also the different artists in which you can pick to play as look like fun stereotypical recreations of what you would think of rock bands, which to works really well for the game.
There is no doubt in my mind that there is no other game in 2006 on the Playstation 2 that I have had more fun with than Guitar Hero II. This game is the real deal for so many reasons that it is hard not to get excited when talking about it. With just a fantastic list of songs to choose from (all of which sound great) to the improved career mode, all the way to the more challenging nature of this game, there is no reason that if you enjoyed the original game you are just going to fall in love with this sequel.
It is not very often that you actually get even more excited by a franchise by its second game, even with the first being as big of a hit as it was. Guitar Hero II continues this amazing legacy that really no other music game has even come close to recreating. With a great peripheral that is the guitar and just a fantastic game to go with it, there is no hesitation to say that if you have any love of music and own a Playstation 2, you really need to go pick this game up right away.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.