Okay, been a few days since I’ve made a post here, but I’ve not done so with good reason. I’ve been rocking out to Guitar Hero 2. The game came out Tuesday for the 360, and I gotta say it’s almost an entirely different experience. I loved the original(as many people who know me can attest), but I waited on Guitar Hero 2. At first I was waiting for a cheaper PS2 copy, then Harmonix and Activision announced the 360 version. Having had a 360 version, having seen the new controller, and contemplated the many possibilities I waited for the 360 version to be released. Boy am I glad I did.
Now I’m not saying the PS2 version’s boring, and I have indeed played it. Using Gamefly‘s wonderful system I rented the game and played it without having to shell out the 40 dollars. I gotta say, I didn’t care much for it. Theoretically the same game, yes, but the setlist rubbed me the wrong way. I’d play through a few songs I liked, then was forced into playing some piece of crap I couldn’t wait to finish just to get to FreeBird. Sure, it had some great songs in it, but compared to the original’s songs it was crap. It just felt like another sequel that didn’t do much for the series(much like DDR). Then Guitar Hero 2 for the 360 came out and my hopes had been renewed. The 360 title almost felt like an entirely new title.
The game is not without it’s faults, it does lack a traditional online mode much like DDR Universe, or many of the XBLA games or just about any other 360 title, but it does partially make up for that fault with the online Leaderboard. Let’s say you have a friend who also has the game. If you’re competitive, which is almost a requisite for having Xbox Live, you can spend hours upon hours of fighting back and forth with scores. It’s a nice little feature that, while often unused by other games, serves a superb purpose with Guitar Hero 2.
The song list is still there, and then some. Sure, it’s got some of those not so great titles, like Institutionalized(which will keep you going nuts trying to get 5 stars on), but it includes some awesome classics that were not in the PS2 version. Rocking out to Iron Maiden, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, and My Chemical Romance(Say what you will, but Dead! is awesome) just helps balance out that list to make a superb experience. However that’s not where it ends. Red Octane has not avoided the Xbox Live Marketplace. GHII(as it’s known to the fans) will feature more downloadable content via the Marketplace than any other game. This downloadable content, of course, will be mainly songs, with a possible online versus mode in the future. The first bunch, which should be released soon, will feature some hits from the original game such as Dark at the Moon, Higher Ground, Frankenstein, and several other songs.
Last but not least the 360 version also features a controller COMPLETELY new to the Guitar Hero series. It has not been seen via third party companies, or even through Red Octane itself, but it follows the Guitar Hero fashion of using a Gibson Guitar. The game uses a smaller Gibson Explorer called the X-plorer(Clever huh?) in a brilliant white color to match the rest of your 360 peripherals. I will say that, while almost flawless, it does have it’s flaws. The Fret Buttons, strum bar, whammy bar, and neck feel perfect, but the main fault lies within the Back and Start button. Unlike the Guitar Hero SGs, the X-Plorer does not have the large circular buttons perfectly placed right above the whammy bar. Instead it features two small buttons set right next to the D-Pad(mainly used for moving around the Dashboard and such) and Xbox live Guide button. Sad Veras this set up makes. If you’re used to hitting the Select button(Back on 360) to activate star power then you’re going to have to get used to tilting the X-plorer. Fumbling for the small star power is far less useful with the X-plorer. Another minor problem, while not Red Octane’s fault, is that the controller is not wireless at this moment. This is not entirely a problem though. If you’ve ever heard of Frets of Fire, Guitar Hero’s answer to Stepmania, you can use the controller perfectly fine with your PC to play custom songs without need of the ill-equipped non guitar shaped keyboard.
Guitar Hero 2 for the 360 certainly has it’s share of problems, but if you’ve yet to buy GHII for the PS2, or haven’t even started to rock out to the series, then the 360 version’s a great place to start…. if you have a little less than 100 bucks burning a whole in your pocket.