Guitar Hero II Reader Review
GH2-single player -PS2
You are all familiar with GH, the game where you hold onto a 1/2 sized plastic guitar with 5 coloured buttons replacing the frets, and a plastic lever that you strum , a combo of those buttons and strum bar when used in conjunction with the music and graphics being streamed at you from your TV make a surprising addictive game.
Many rock classics were used in the first title, Megadeth, Clapton, Hendrix , Sabbath, were among the artists who featured in the first 30 songs, and the remaining songs, which were unlocked by you earning enough money in game to buy them, were by unsigned bands. To say these unsigned bands were a mixed bunch is something of an understatement. Some were good, some .....weren't...suffice to say, I could see why they were unsigned !
The official songs were very proficient covers of the original songs, sometimes so well done they either outshone the original or were so good you had to concentrate to tell the difference.
Anyway, just little under a year after GH1s release saw the release of GH2. Essentially more of the same, but with around 40 "proper" songs along with the eclectic bunch of unsigned acts . The unsigned acts in GH2 are nowhere as near as good as the unsigned acts in GH1, and , well, refer to my comments about the unsigned acts in GH1 for my opinions there.
So the real meat of GH2 is the new set of "official" songs. To put it bluntly, in my opinion, this selection of songs is nowhere near as good as the "official " songs of GH1 and the game suffers for this fact.
GH2 has tried to be far too diverse in it's selection of music this time around, and instead of focusing on the rock and metal genre's ( truly where musical genius and inspiration lives) they have , in many cases, selected songs that just don't work very well. It's almost as though they were trying to fit in muliple music styles to see which ones get the best response, maybe in lieu of releasing "Guitar Hero- The pop years", or maybe " Guitar Hero- The here's why rock & metal get such a bad press" game.
The covers of the official songs, in some cases seem very rushed. Two examples of this immediately spring to mind. First of there is the cover of Sweet Child 'O mine by Guns 'n Roses. The original song a soaring testament to originality, effective vocals and the best guitar work modern( ish ) rock can give you. On its release it became an anthem to the Glam Rock generation, broke down barriers between music fans of different generations and likes, and still shines as brightly today as upon its original release in the early 80s.
Then there's the GH2 version. They tried. I really think they tried. The guitar is almost as good, but it always seems a bit too quiet, the drums are proficient...but, and this is where the song takes a huge swig of Jack Daniels, trips on the carpet at the top of the stairs and comes crashing down said stairs with the sound of breaking glass and the muffled cracks of bones breaking. The vocal is sodding awful. Axl Rose has a unique voice. It's not great, but it's unique and it carried the original song with passion. Plus I think Axl stood next to the microphone when he sang it. Not the case for the version in GH2.
I reckon they grabbed a wino from down the alley, got him drunk so he wasn't self conscious of what he was being asked to do and then told to sing. Then they realised he was stinking out the studio, so they asked him to go stand out in the alley and sing from there, hence, his voice sounds like he was standing 20 foot from the mike !
The other song they royally shafted was the immaculate " Strutter" by Kiss. FFS ! The guitar is wrong, The Drums are wrong, the Bass is wrong, the vocal, is , you guessed it, woefully wrong. This pissed me off so much I'm going to actually stop writing about it at this point.
To be fair, there are some amazing covers in GH2. Theres a very competent cover of a Stray Cats song from the 80s, Message in a Bottle by the Police, which is stunning. A brillaint cover of Wolfmothers latest single , an impressive turn of Ozzy in Black Sabbaths Warpigs, and an epic version of Lynrrd Skynrrds " Freebird" . These and a few of the other songs in GH2 really are the precious gems buried in the mineshaft of mediocrity that many of the other songs languish at the bottom of.
I've read there's a GH3 on the way for this Xmas ( bit of a no brainer really), lets hope they suddenly realise that there are rock bands out there who people need to hear and play along side in GH3....Led Zeppelin, AC-DC, Disturbed, Korn, Pink Floyd, Machine Head ( their good stuff, not the latest dross),Offspring, Monster Magnet, Metallica,Aerosmith, ELO, Lenny Kravitz...oh, I don't know , I could rattle on forever about the great bands to draw great songs from, lets just hope Harmonix and Activision get their act together this time. And with EAs "Rock band " game coming out for this XMas, there may be competition for them to worry about.
To conclude. GH2 is still fun. It would be hard to screw up such a well designed gameplay mechanic, and if you liked the first game, you will like this one.
BUT ( and it's a big BUT ) the all important GREAT songs are simply not present in great enough numbers in GH2, and for me, the music is EVERY-thing. And if you don't have the music , you don't have much of ANY-thing.
7 / 10