There's nothing that pisses off a musician like a game that SIMULATES the actual instrument, yet dumbs it down so that 8-year-olds can pick it up and play it after a few minutes. I had repeatedly, upon the release of Guitar Hero, pointed out the number of frets and strings on my guitar (24x6) to the number of frets and strings on the Guitar Hero controller (5x1?). "That game is stupid," I thought to myself, "but I might as well try it."
I found the game at my local Game Stop and walked to the console perhaps too confident. I picked up the controller, chose Expert, and lasted mere seconds as the notes flew by. "WHAT THE HELL" I shouted, "THIS GAME IS IMPOSSIBLE." But I stuck with it, battled it out, and several hours and one pissed-off store clerk later, I had beaten the game.
So upon the release of Guitar Hero II, I had learned how to master the game. While I was disappointed with the set list, I was awed by the features of the release. I worked my way through the first 30 songs, on Expert, without difficulty, and was becoming engulfed in the confidence I show all too often. The songs were amazing, many more fun than the last. The hammer-ons had improved (and become much easier), and the sound quality was much better. Well, uh, at least a little better than the last one.
But the best part came in the sixth set, when I realized "Wow, these songs are getting harder, Free Bird must be next." Hardly. There were eight sets of songs, still two to go, plus bonus songs, bringing the total tracks to 64, and the last ten were absolutely relentless. I had played Psychobilly Freakout and Misirlou at least twenty times each before beating the game. I couldn't believe how much more challenging the songs had become.
Coop mode, I must admit, has to be one of the best features to come out on Guitar Hero II. You can play together with another person with a base line and guitar line, or a rhythm and lead guitar line, doubling the experience and making this release far surpass the last.
But alas, the sound quality of old Guitar Hero still remains. The sound can cut out, be too high or too low, or simply randomly change. The covers aren't excellent; some are good and some are bad, and the disc can also scratch and virtually ruin the entire game (try playing the notes two seconds before you hear them). None of these downside, though, limit the game in any way. It is a phenomenal release, and deserves to be played.