Review: Guitar Hero II
By now, you're most likely finishing up Hangar 18 and Freebird on Expert in the PlayStation 2 version of Guitar Hero II, and you're probably wondering if it's worth it to pick up the Xbox 360 version for another round of furious fretwork, right? Well, the answer is simpler than a toilet; it's "Yes!"
But if you think this is just some port, think again: it's the ultimate Guitar Hero package and it's packed with more goodies than your little brother's Easter basket. Seriously, even Jesus would rock out with this game.
Consider this setlist of new additions: 10 new rocking songs, the X-Plorer controller, which puts the PS2's stubby Gibson to shame, the Xbox Live Leaderboards, which separates the rock gods from the garage band wanna-bes, and downloadable content that ranges from gamer-profile picture packs to new songs. Anyway you add it up, the Xbox 360 version is the only one to own.
I Wanna Rock
The biggest addition to this particular version of the game are the new features Xbox Live brings to the table. Through the Xbox Live Marketplace you'll now be able to download new GH themes for your Xbox 360 dashboard, rockin' picture packs for your profile, get ranked on global leaderboards, or purchase a number of new songs and jam packs. RedOctane has guaranteed new songs, even old songs from the first GH, will continue to be released for GHII on a regular basis, that way replayability is kept very high and you'll never get bored of mastering the same old tracks.
Although, we saw 480 progressive scan support for GHII on the PS2, component cables required, the Xbox 360 version visually stuns with enhanced HD graphics. Even though the visual style remains the same, the upgraded character models and over-the-top lighting make the Xbox 360 version look like an entirely new game. And with the enhanced audio capabilities in the Xbox 360--sound system permitting--the sound quality will make your ears bleed in ecstasy compared to anything you've heard on the PS2. Bring the Noise!
It's also time to throw out the stanky PS2 Guitar Hero controller--by now, it's got to be more worn in than your fat grandpa's La-Z-Boy. The new X-Plorer controller, which is modeled after the Gibson Explorer, is a welcome edition to GHII: Xbox 360. Sadly, it's wired because Microsoft refuses to release its wireless protocols to third-party publishers, but the added Directional Pad allows for swift menu navigation and it even supports an Xbox 360 Headset for chatting it up with fellow rockers.
You'll also find a handy Xbox Guide Button on the controller, which is essential if you have a lot of friends on Xbox Live. The only step backwards from the PS2 guitar controller is that the Start and Select buttons have reduced in size. Forget about hitting the pause button for a quick time out: you'll miss an entire riff before you find it.
There's also an odd port under the controller, but its functionality is unknown at this time. We figure it will enable Guitar Hero to add stomp pads or effects pedals in the future, but RedOctane's keeping their lips sealed on that front.
Not All Gravy
The biggest disappointment with this version, though, is the absence of online multiplayer, which is like buying a Beatles box set and finding that your favorite song was somehow left off. Seriously, the lack of online multiplayer is the only thing keeping this version from achieving a perfect review score.
Essentially, though, GHII on the Xbox 360 is the same, great game we've all played on the PS2. But, the added level of depth and infinite replay value through Xbox 360 Achievements and loads of downloadable content make GHII: Xbox 360 the ultimate version to own.
Pros: HD graphics, downloadable content including new songs, and Xbox 360 Achievements.
Cons: No online multiplayer, tsk tsk.
Think you're good at Guitar Hero? Watch the man Red Octane calls "The Greatest Guitar Hero Player In the World" perform a song from the new Guitar Hero II...with his back to the TV!