Guitar Hero

It’s tempting to rant about how Guitar Hero isn’t an original title: about how it simply steals from Konami’s Guitar Freaks and how the acclaim it’s received across the Pacific is unwarranted. Such a condescending diatribe would be the product of a ‘Bemani’ fanboy: Guitar Freaks has never been legally released outside of Japan. Instead, one needs to look at what Guitar Hero is: perhaps the best game in the rhythm/action genre today.

Guitar Hero contains a lot of complex gameplay that deserves paragraphs of in-depth analysis: hammer-ons, note-bends, sliding power-chords; but such a discussion would largely ignore what makes Guitar Hero the must-own title that it is: The Guitar Hero SG guitar.

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It seems rather silly to suggest that a Fisher Price guitar could add so much to the game. But anyone who has played any of Konami’s ‘Bemani’ games with a joypad will contest that it is the peripherals that makes those games what they are. The same applies to Guitar Hero.

Indeed, it is possible to play the game with the joypad; and for many, multiplayer will only be achieved with the second player using a Dual Shock. But this will immediately prove to be one of Guitar Hero’s negatives: it only comes with one Guitar Hero SG.

The game isn’t the same without the controller. The microphones in SingStar are a necessary requirement; you cannot tap buttons to represent your vocal input. However, they help set the mood when you’re warbling the final chorus of The Final Countdown. It’s all part of being a star: which is exactly how you feel when playing Guitar Hero.

With the Guitar Hero SG in your hands, you will feel the urge to “rock out”. In an uncharacteristic moment of personal indulgence, I simply must tell you about my girlfriend’s experience with Guitar Hero. After initially being dismissive of such a concept – why on Earth we couldn’t be content with SingStar was beyond her – she eventually couldn’t help but ‘bop’ along to the music as she strummed the guitar.

And that’s the effect that Guitar Hero has on people: it brings out their inner rocker. The more extroverted/drunk will find themselves playing the guitar behind their head, with their teeth, or simply attempting to set that rather expensive piece of plastic on fire.

However, for $150 (RRP) you only get one Guitar Hero SG – one – and a second guitar is not easily obtained. And there is no option to play ‘short’ versions of songs like you can in SingStar. No one realizes how long Smoke On The Water is until they're waiting for their turn.

Which, of course, neglects any multiplayer functions and whether they are worthwhile; and that is a matter of opinion. While both players compete, they share parts of the song. So if you’re playing a simple song on the ‘Easy’ difficulty – something that most novices will demand – you’ll find that monotony doesn’t even begin to describe the simplicity.

Hence, Guitar Hero then remains a largely single-player experience. It’s certainly an excellent single player experience; sliding your ‘power chord’ down from two buttons to two others is sure to make you feel like you’re a disciple of the school of rock. Successfully completing Bark At The Moon on ‘Medium’ difficulty is a truly rewarding experience; and ‘Expert’ mode is a nightmare: there’s plenty of gameplay tucked away in this title.

Which is for the best; the title is expensive. Unlike SingStar, you’re paying a lot for the peripheral. Unfortunately, Guitar Hero is nothing without the SG controller. It’s lucky then that the experience is definitely worth the $150 (RRP).

If you’ve ever played the ‘air guitar’, Guitar Hero is for you. It’s also for you if you’ve ever been at a party that focuses on SingStar and you’ve thought, ‘Gee, singing sucks.’ Guitar Hero is one of those titles that make people glad they own a PS2. In fact, it’s one of those titles that make people go purchase a PS2 if they don’t already own one. It’s expensive, but it’s worth the price of admission. Purchase immediately.

"Expensive, but totally worth it, dude!"
- Guitar Hero
Follow Own it? Rating: PG   Difficulty: Medium   Learning Curve: 30 Min


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