Guitar Hero II - PS2 - Preview

E3 2006 Hands On Preview

The game I was most excited to see this year was Guitar Hero II, and I’m sure plenty of you know why. The first Guitar Hero was such a surprise hit, and it was so good that even non-gamers got hooked. I definitely wasn’t alone in wanting to play Guitar Hero II, because RedOctane’s little booth was constantly packed. Luckily I got there early in the day and was able to hog it without upsetting too many people.

The demo featured nine songs, including bands such as KISS, Primus, Butthole Surfers, and Rush to name a few. I got a chance to play every song, and there wasn’t a single one I didn’t enjoy playing.

Since so many people wanted to play Guitar Hero II, I never got a chance to try out single player. Luckily the multiplayer is a large focus this time around. Now each player can choose their own difficulty. So while I like to play on Hard and Expert, I was playing with some beginners who chose to play along with me on Easy.

Multiplayer is truly cooperative this time around, since players share the same Star Power meter, score, and score multiplier. To use Star Power, both players have to lift the guitar at the same time. Also, since both players are sharing the same multiplier, if one screws up then it’s reset for both players. But if they’re able to hold it at max, notes hit by both players are counted towards the score. They also share the same rock gauge, so if one player is doing badly enough they can lose it for both players.

One new thing I noticed playing on expert was how there are now three-button chords. A few runs of notes had me jumping between one, two, and three simultaneous notes. I didn’t think it would bother me, but it ended up throwing me off. It’ll feel pretty good for anyone once they can pull those off without trouble.

Another extremely awesome upgrade from the last Guitar Hero is how multiplayer is played. No longer do you take turns playing parts of the lead guitar, or play the same notes together, but each player takes on a different guitar. So while the first player is lead guitar, the second player can play rhythm guitar or bass, depending on the song. This adds a ton more replay value to the game, because while you may have the lead guitar for a song mastered, the bass line is a totally different note set.

Guitar Hero II was the only game on the show floor that I couldn’t get enough of. The other writers at the show with me can attest to that, since they had to deal with my persistent scheming to get us back to RedOctane’s booth. Harmonix is doing a wonderful job so far of bringing us more of the same greatness, but with more options and accessibility.      

 

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