Guitar Hero II

]

Several changes have been made to the gameplay mechanics for "Guitar Hero II": hammer-on and pull-off functionality has been improved, and three note chords have been introduced, scored as triple points if played correctly. There are additional statistics available for a song upon completion, and the scores achieved in either "Quick Play" or "Career" mode are saved to the same in-game high-score list. The handedness of the guitar can now be toggled from the Pause menu when playing a song (previously, this was only available from the game's main menu). For the Xbox 360 version, scores can also be compared with other players through Xbox Live via the Leaderboard feature, and there are 50 Achievements that can be earned in the game.cite book | year=2007 | editor=RedOctane | title=Xbox 360 Guitar Hero II Instruction Manual | pages=8–9 | publisher=RedOctane|language=English|id=95057-226-US]

Career mode

In Career mode, players create a band name and select a guitarist from among the available characters. Eight characters, each representing a unique genre of rock music - are available from the start of the game: Eddie Knox, Axel Steel, Casey Lynch, Lars Ümlaüt, Izzy Sparks, Judy Nails, Johnny Napalm, and Pandora. [cite web|url=http://www.guitarherogame.com/gh2/|title=Character List at Official Site|publisher=RedOctane|accessdate=2008-07-24] Additional characters — Clive Winston, Xavier Stone and the Grim Ripper — can also be purchased, allowing them to be used in later sessions.

Only the lead guitar is available to be played in the Career mode. Over the course of the Career mode the band plays at eight available venues. The venue system from the original game has been altered slightly and has the band traveling geographically from town to town in order to play at the next arena. The venues are Nilbog High School, The Rat Cellar Pub, The Blackout Bar, The RedOctane Club, the Rock City Theater, the Vans Warped Tour, Harmonix Arena and Stonehenge. [cite web| author = FS Staff | title = Guitar Hero II Review + Song List| publisher = Exposure Online Magazine| url = http://www.fullspectrumottawa.com/exposure/exposure_guitar_hero_ii_song_list.php| accessdate = 2008-07-24 ] The venues feature lighting and pyrotechnics that are synchronized with the music.

Not all songs in the main set list are available from the start. Once a song is unlocked for play within Career mode, it becomes available for play in all other modes. When working through Career mode at a specific difficulty level, the next tier of songs is unlocked once the required number of songs on the current tier (3-5, depending on difficulty and console) are completed. Additionally, the encore song for a particular tier is only made available once its requirements are completed. On the Easy difficulty setting, there are no encores available, but the next tier will be unlocked immediately after completing the required songs in the previous tier.cite web | url = http://ps2.gamezone.com/gzreviews/r29286.htm | title = Guitar Hero II Review | last = Watkins | first = Rob | date = 2006-11-10 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 | publisher = Game Zone ]

Successful completion of a song on Medium or higher difficulty during Career mode will earn the player in-game cash. Higher difficulty levels [cite web | url = http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/xbox360/file/935834/48439 | title = Guitar Hero II (XBOX360} FAQ | work = GameFAQs | author = darkness992 | accessdate = 2008-07-24] and better scoring performances are rewarded with more cash. In-game money can be used at "The Store" to buy various items. Some items are available only after completing all songs at higher difficulty levels or 5-star performances. [cite web | url = http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/puzzle/guitarhero2/hints.html | title = Guitar Hero II for Xbox 360 Cheats | work = GameSpot | accessdate = 2008-07-24] Within "The Store", the player can purchase new Gibson guitars, guitar finishes, three additional characters, alternate outfits for the eight characters available from the start, bonus songs, and videos.cite book | year=2007 | editor=RedOctane | title=Xbox 360 Guitar Hero II Instruction Manual | pages=8 | publisher=RedOctane|language=English|id=95057-226-US] For unknown reasons, the bonus videos are absent from the PAL version of the game. Within the Xbox 360 version, there is also an option to access the "Guitar Hero II" content on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Multiplayer

There are three different multiplayer modes available:cite book | year=2007 | editor=RedOctane | title=Xbox 360 Guitar Hero II Instruction Manual | pages=8–9 | publisher=RedOctane|language=English|id=95057-226-US]
*Cooperative:One player plays lead guitar while another plays either bass guitar or rhythm guitar, depending on the song. Both players share a score, rock meter, star power meter, and streak multiplier. Cooperative mode is the only multiplayer mode in which a song can be failed. Star power can only be activated by both players simultaneously.
*Face-Off:This is the same multiplayer mode as featured in the original game, though in "Guitar Hero II" both players can select their own level of difficulty. In this mode, players alternate between playing sections of the selected song. The scores are weighted so that a player who hits fewer notes on Easy difficulty may not necessarily lose against an opponent on Expert difficulty who hits more notes.
*Pro Face-Off:Players play the full lead guitar track on the same difficulty. For the PlayStation 2 mode, this is available upon completion of any career level,cite book | year=2006 | editor=RedOctane | title=PlayStation 2 Guitar Hero II Instruction Manual | pages=8 | publisher=RedOctane|language=English|id=95023-226-US] while for the Xbox 360 version, the mode is unlocked after completing the career mode at Medium level or higher.cite book | year=2007 | editor=RedOctane | title=Xbox 360 Guitar Hero II Instruction Manual | pages=9 | publisher=RedOctane|language=English|id=95057-226-US] The score system is identical as the song could be played alone, but songs cannot be failed in this mode.

Although, online multiplayer was not available at the release of "Guitar Hero II" for the Xbox 360, RedOctane has stated that they hope to be able provide this later once they are able to work out the technical issues. [cite web|url=http://xbox360.gamespy.com/xbox-360/guitar-hero-2/754599p2.html|title=Gamespy - CES 2007 Preview for Guitar Hero II for the Xbox 360|date=2007-01-11|last=Accardo|first=Sal|accessdate=2008-07-24]

Practice mode

Practice mode is a new addition to the game, allowing a player to practice certain sections of a song ("Verse 2," "Chorus," "Bridge 3," "Gtr Solo 4," etc.) on different difficulties and instruments. Practice mode gives the player the ability to toggle the speed of the notes (Full Speed, Slow, Slower and Slowest) and does not stop a song no matter how many mistakes are made. Players can play the bass guitar lines on most songs. On others, a rhythm guitar line is available instead.cite book | year=2007 | editor=RedOctane | title=Xbox 360 Guitar Hero II Instruction Manual | pages=9 | publisher=RedOctane|language=English|id=95057-226-US]

Soundtrack

Both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 versions of "Guitar Hero II" feature the same core 64 playable songs (40 licensed, 24 bonus songs). [cite web| author=Roper, Chris|date=2006-10-09|title = IGN: Guitar Hero II Final Tracklist Revealed | url = http://ps2.ign.com/articles/737/737921p1.html|work=ign.com|publisher=IGN|accessdate=2008-07-24] Among the featured tracks are "You Really Got Me" by Van Halen, "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses, "Woman" by Wolfmother, "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath, and "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd. The Xbox 360 version of the game contains 10 exclusive tracks not included in the PlayStation 2 version, including "Billion Dollar Babies" by Alice Cooper, "Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo" by Rick Derringer, and "The Trooper" by Iron Maiden. Additionally, the Xbox 360 version allows for downloadable songs to be purchased on the Xbox Live Marketplace. The Xbox 360 version also features a reorganized set list that provides a more balanced progression in difficulty.

Most of the songs featured in the main set list are cover versions, with the exception of "Stop", "Possum Kingdom", "Dead!", and "John the Fisherman"; these four are based on master recordings. The unlockable bonus songs are all master recordings, including some specifically arranged for use within "Guitar Hero II". [cite web| title = Guitar Hero II Review | last = Sellers| first = Pete| publisher = Deeko Entertainment| date = 2006-11-07| url = http://www.deeko.com/ps2/reviewdetail.asp?id=752| accessdate = 2008-07-24 ] Cover songs are credited on screen with the phrase "as made famous by" (for example, "Surrender, as made famous by Cheap Trick"), while the original songs are credited with "as performed by" (for example, "John the Fisherman, as performed by Primus").

RedOctane stated that the Xbox 360 version of "Guitar Hero II" "planned to feature more downloadable content than any other 360 title" utilizing the Xbox Live Marketplace, [cite web| url= http://xbox360.ign.com/articles/764/764899p1.html|title= Guitar Hero II 360 Interview|last=Kolan|first=Patrick|publisher=IGN|date=2007-02-14|accessdate=2008-07-24] including many of the songs from the original "Guitar Hero" a week after the release of the game.cite web|url=http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3156280|title=Guitar Hero 2 New songs and new guitar on 360 -- in-depth impressions. |accessdate=2008-07-24|date=2007-01-08|last=Pfister|first=Andrew|publisher=1up] [cite web|url=http://arstechnica.com/journals/thumbs.ars/2007/1/21/6693|title=Ars Technica: Guitar Hero 1 songs in Guitar Hero 2, and the best interview answer ever... twice!|accessdate=2008-07-24|last=Kuchera|first=Ben|date=2007-01-21|publisher=Ars Technica] Four such packs have been released since April 11, 2007.cite web|url=http://majornelson.com/archive/2007/04/11/gh-ii-song-packs-3-of-em.aspx|title=GH II: Song Packs (3 of 'em)|date=2007-04-11|accessdate=2008-07-24|last=Hryb|first=Larry|publisher=Major Nelson's Blog] [cite web|url=http://majornelson.com/archive/2007/07/11/guitar-hero-track-pack-4.aspx|title=Guitar Hero Track Pack 4|date=2007-07-11|accessdate=2008-07-24|last=Hryb|first=Larry|publisher=Major Nelson's Blog] Additionally, two packs featuring new content to the "Guitar Hero" series have also been released, including songs from My Chemical Romance, [cite web | url = http://majornelson.com/archive/2007/08/14/in-game-content-guitar-hero-ii.aspx | title = In Game Content: Guitar Hero II | date = 2007-08-14 | last = Hryb | first = Larry | publisher = Major Nelson's Blog | accessdate =2008-07-24] Protest the Hero, Trivium, and Atreyu. [cite web | url = http://majornelson.com/archive/2007/09/28/marketplace-roundup-for-september-28-2007.aspx | title = Marketplace Roundup for September 28, 2007 | publisher = Major Nelson's Blog | accessdate = 2008-07-24 | date = 2007-09-28 | first = Larry | last = Hryb ] There have also been individual track downloads featuring songs from European bands Los Rodríguez, Pleymo, and Soilwork.cite web | url= http://majornelson.com/archive/2007/10/15/marketplace-roundup-for-october-15-2007.aspx | work=majornelson.com | title= Marketplace Roundup for October 15, 2007 | last= Hryb | first= Larry | date= 2007-10-15 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 ]

Featured instruments

"Guitar Hero II" features many popular real world Gibson, Epiphone, and Kramer guitars, [cite web| title = Guitar Hero II Demos at E3 (Press Release)| publisher = Reverb Communications, Inc| date = 2006-05-05| url = http://www.modernguitars.com/archives/001852.html| format = HTML| accessdate = 2008-07-24 ] including the Gibson Les Paul, Gibson SG, Gibson Flying V, (these three being the only ones available from the start) Gibson Sonex 180 and Gibson Explorer. Oddities such as the double necked Gibson EDS-1275 and unusual looking Gibson Corvus also make an appearance. Several available finishes are also recognizable from popular guitarists, including Zakk Wylde's bullseye Les Paul. As play progresses, several custom shaped guitars become available, although some are notable in the real world such as the USA and Battle Axe (a similar looking bass is played by Gene Simmons, and the guitar was played by John Christ of Samhain/Danzig fame). Basses, such as the Music Man StingRay, Gibson Thunderbird, and the Höfner bass (as made famous by Paul McCartney, the bassist for the Beatles) are also available for co-op play.

The band itself plays with Orange amps and DW drum kits, along with more in-game endorsements. When the player passes each set of songs in career mode, his/her band is rewarded with money and equipment endorsements, including Ernie Ball strings, Boss effects, Line 6 guitar amplifiers, VHT amplifiers, Mesa Boogie amplifiers, and Roland keyboards. These products then appear on stage while the band plays the ensuing setlists.cite web| title = A Day Spent in the Presence of the Mighty Guitar Hero 2 | url = http://ulo.tricho.us/?p=63|date=2006-08-05|accessdate=2008-07-24|last=Neiburger|first=Eli]

Reception

The PlayStation 2 version of "Guitar Hero II" was welcomed with very positive reviews. It received a 10/10 review in the December 2006 issue of "Official PlayStation Magazine" and was awarded the Game of the Month award. The game received a rating of 9.5/10 from IGN, ranking higher than the original game in the series and amongst IGN's highest rated PlayStation 2 games ever. IGN would later include it on their 2007 list of "The Top 100 Games of All Time" at #49. GameSpot reviewed the PlayStation 2 version with a rating of 8.7/10, and the Xbox 360 version 8.9, both slightly lower than its predecessor. "Game Informer" gave it a 9/10, while its "second opinion" rating was better, at 9.25/10. According to Game Rankings, the average critic score of "Guitar Hero II" is 93%, making it the 9th best reviewed game of 2006.

The Xbox 360 version has earned similarly positive reviews and slightly higher scores with a 9.5/10 in the March issue of "Official Xbox Magazine", a 4.75/5 from "GamePro", a 9.5/10 from "Play Magazine" a 9.4/10 from IGN, and a perfect score of 5/5 from "Got-Next". [cite web | url = http://www.the-nextlevel.com/?id=603 | title = Guitar Hero II 360 Review | publisher = Got-Next | first = James | last = Cunningham | date = 2007-04-29 | accessdate = 2008-07-24] As of April 3, 2007, the Game Rankings score is 94%. The popular G4 television show "X-Play" gave both versions of the game a 5/5. Additionally, the Australian Xbox Magazine has also awarded the game, for the first time, an 11/10, in a reference to "This Is Spinal Tap".

Common praise for the game by critics is aimed at the new multiplayer and practice modes. Common critiques concern the song list, which includes more hard rock and metal than the previous game, deeming it less accessible to casual players. Other common critiques concern the quality of the covers.

The downloadable song packs for the Xbox 360 version have been criticized for being too pricey. Each song is priced at 166.67 MSP using the Microsoft Points system, which is approximately $2.08 USD for one song. The price was seen by many fans of the series as being far too expensive and was met with resistance and angst with a large number of people pledging to boycott the content. Microsoft's Xbox Live Director of Programming, Major Nelson, defending the pricing and release scheme, and attributed the high cost of the content to "licensing issues" on the Xbox 360 platform, as all contracts drawn up for songs from the original game had to be rewritten, since they are playable on an additional console. [cite web|url=http://www.joystiq.com/2007/04/12/major-nelson-talks-guitar-hero-downloads-halo-3/|title=Joystiq - Major Nelson Talks Guitar Hero Downloads, Halo 3|accessdate=2008-07-24|last=Yoon|first=Andrew|date=2007-04-12|publisher=Joystiq]

In 1UP.com's review for the Xbox 360 version of the game, the downloadable song packs are noted as a "mixed blessing"; praise is given for retooling the songs with better gameplay elements such as the inclusion of co-op modes, but the fact that the songs come in pricey packs of three "defeats much of the appeal". In an interview with RedOctane president Kai Huang, [cite web | url = http://wii.ign.com/articles/780/780829p2.html | title = Rocking on with Guitar Hero|publisher=IGN|last=Burman|first=Rob|date=2007-04-16|accessdate=2008-07-24] Huang stated that the decision to pack the songs in three was made to keep the cost of the tracks down. Though Huang felt the pricing was fair, he noted afterward "we do listen to the fans and take any feedback we receive seriously."

Sales

In December 2006, "Guitar Hero II" for PlayStation 2 was the second best-selling video game of the month,cite web | url=http://www.1up.com/do/newsStory?cId=3156365|title=NPD Releases December Numbers, Fanboys Riot|date=2007-01-11|accessdate=2008-07-24|publisher=1up|last=Klepek|first=Patrick] selling 805,200 units. It was outsold only by "Gears of War" for Xbox 360, which sold 815,700 units. It was the fifth best-selling video game of the fiscal year of 2006, with 1.3 million copies sold. It was also the third best-selling game for the PlayStation 2, behind "Madden NFL 07" and "Kingdom Hearts II". Total sales of the game during vgy|2006 were $200 million.cite web | url = http://blog.cleveland.com/pdextra/2008/03/guitar_hero_cofounders_turned.html | title ="Guitar Hero" co-founders turned a bright idea into $100 million | publisher = Cleveland Plain Dealer | first = John | last = Petkovic | date = 2008-03-28 | accessdate = 2008-03-28]

On July 12, 2007, Dusty Welch of RedOctane stated that there have been over 300,000 downloads of the music packs until that point and that the prices were "very attractive and desirable for consumers." [cite web | url = http://uk.reuters.com/article/technology-media-telco-SP/idUKN1227928220070712?feedType=RSS | title = Activision to stick to "Guitar Hero" song price | date = 2007-07-12 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 | publisher = Reuters ] On September 11, 2007, Activision reported that with over 650,000 downloads, the music packs qualified as "multi-platinum" under RIAA's definitions. [cite web | url = http://kotaku.com/gaming/downloadable-content/guitar-hero-ii-dlc-goes-multi+platinum-298583.php | title = Guitar Hero II DLC Goes Multi-Platinum | date = 2007-09-11 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 | publisher = Kotaku | first = Mike | last = Fahey]

Technical issues

No official statement from RedOctane or Activision has been made about the discs or the game itself having any issues, but players have reported songs freezing or skipping, causing the audio to be unsynchronized; unusually long loading screens; and menus that freeze or lock up entirely causing the game to crash. The RedOctane Support Center Answer Guide states, "We’re already in the process of looking into this and testing to replicate the experience. We’ll notify everyone with our results shortly, and will have a positive resolution if need be." [cite web|url=http://www.redoctane.us/support-center/index.php?x=&mod_id=2&id=120|title=RedOctane Support Center|accessdate=2008-07-24]

Two models of the X-Plorer controller were released for the Xbox 360 version of the game: model numbers 95055 and 95065. Of the two versions, the 95055 has an RJ-11 jack for effect pedals near the controller cord and is suspect to having an unresponsive whammy bar. RedOctane later responded, saying that they "isolated this issue to two model numbers that can be found on the guitar's packaging". Customers are able to exchange these models for new models. [cite web | last = Sliwinksi | first = Alexander | title = Red Octane Says Two Xbox Guitar Models Defective | publisher = Joystiq | date = 2007-04-07 | url = http://www.joystiq.com/2007/04/07/red-octane-says-two-xbox-guitar-models-defective/ | accessdate = 2008-07-24 ]

On April 13, 2007, Activision revealed that the issue was not a problem with the hardware, and that the guitars were "not" defective. The cause of the problem was anti-cheat protection software, and Activision released a patch on Xbox Live on April 14, 2007 to remedy it.Fact|date=May 2008 [cite web|url= http://forum.guitarherogame.com/Default.aspx?g=posts&t=18566 |title= RedOctane post information Guitar Hero II patch|date=2007-04-13|accessdate=2008-07-24|publisher=Guitar Hero Forums] However, this patch may have caused some unintended side effects. Starting on April 16, 2007, numerous users began reporting lockups and failures of their system after downloading and installing this patch. RedOctane stated, "We're aware of the problem and we're looking into it." [cite web | title = RedOctane admits to Guitar Hero II patch problem | publisher = Eurogamer | date = 2007-04-16 | url = http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=75328 | accessdate = 2008-07-24 |last=Bramwell|first=Tom]

Numerous game players have also reported problems with static shocks to the X-Plorer guitars causing various fret buttons (usually the green one) to permanently malfunction. Multiple exchanges of guitars have not solved the problem, as exchanged guitars also exhibit the problem. To date, RedOctane has not solved the problem, and has refused to extend warranties to replacement guitars, time limiting the warranty back to the original date of purchase. [cite web | title = Fret Button Problems | url = http://www.monstersandcritics.com/gaming/xbox360/news/article_1287041.php/Guitar_Hero_II_controllor_problems_potential_recall ]

References

External links

* [http://www.guitarherogame.com/gh2/ Official site]
*
*
* [http://www.metacritic.com/games/platforms/ps2/guitarhero2 "Guitar Hero II" reviews] at Metacritic
* [http://gaming.wikia.com/index.php?title=Xbox_360_Achievements:_Guitar_Hero_II A list of Xbox 360 Achievements for "Guitar Hero II"]


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