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Rock Candy

Posted on Wednesday, October 11 @ 14:27:42 PST by Joe_Dodson
With Bark at the Moon muzzled and Frankenstein successfully resurrected, we Guitar Heroes were content to take off our capes and cowls and return to the quiet life of the average, every day video gamer, namely shooting Nazis and pwning Orcs. What a life, right? Well, months after our musical masquerades ended, we found ourselves wondering, “Was Guitar Hero really a great video game, or just an outstanding novelty act?”

Sure, we were hopelessly addicted for a while there, and we even got our moms and dads to play it, who hadn’t played anything since Tetris, but frankly, we couldn’t help wondering if its encore could be as good as the opening set, even with new songs, modes and practice features. What we had forgotten, and what we were recently reminded of, is that Guitar Hero shares a soul with the classic rock and metal it uses as levels. And from what we've seen, Guitar Hero 2 is as good as ever at putting you on the other side of the radio.

As opposed to getting into the whole track list or going too deeply into the new features before we publish a review, we thought we’d take a look at the game through one of the songs we feel most distinguishes Guitar Hero 2 from the original, Dick Dale’s Misirlou.

We don’t know how to pronounce it and we barely even know how to play it, but when we ran across it in the list, this song blew our minds and our plans for the day. Completely unlike anything you played in the original Guitar Hero, Misirlou combines blistering speed and three-note chords, while sadistically demanding an insane amount of digital flexibility. I’ve played it for hours and I still suck at it, as you can see for yourself in the video. [Editor’s Note: Yeah, right, Joe. Thanks for beating expert mode and making all the rest of us look like we suck. Showoff.]

There's a part in the middle that always tears me up because a) I don’t have six fingers on my left hand and b) it's unlike anything that comes before it. In the first game, I would've had to play for minutes before reaching this sequence and completely wiping out - cue the booing crowd. Now I can skip straight to that part, and wipe out almost instantly.

You see, in Guitar Hero II, every song is divided into its main parts (intro, verse, melody, etc.), and each can be practiced by itself or in sequence at four different tempos (normal, slow, slower, slowest), so you can sit and dissect any hellish stretch of notes you want, rather than just hitting Star Power. Don't mistake Practice mode for an easy button, though. It doesn't ruin the mystique of the game's nastier passages or suddenly turn brutal songs like Misirlou into cakewalks, because a lot of this stuff is still freakin' hard even slowed way down. This is a much needed tool in the Guitar Hero's utility belt.

We love the nifty new gadgets, but the real stars of the show are the villainous tracks themselves, like Misirlou. With their insidious licks, diabolical riffs, and superhuman chords, they'll rock your world this November 7th.

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