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Guitar Hero 2 Xbox 360 Hands-On Impressions

t long last, Guitar Hero is coming to the Xbox 360. Sure, it’s been out on the PlayStation 2 for a while now, but good things really do come to those who wait. (If you're not familiar with the Guitar Hero formula, check out our previous coverage.) The 360 version sports spiffy new visuals, 10 new tracks, downloadable content and, most noticeably, a new controller based on the classic Gibson X-Plorer guitar.

Ah yes, those 10 new songs. In keeping with the rest of the track list, the majority of the new songs are covers, or songs “as made famous by” in Guitar Hero speak. Eight of the new songs appear during career mode, and the remaining two are unlockables, which can be purchased from the in-game store with “money” earned through performances. The songs cover a variety of musical terrain, from sloppy punk thrashers to melodic power metal. Most importantly, they’re all a blast to play. Seriously.

Here are the exclusive tracks for the Xbox 360 version of Guitar Hero II (* denotes a song performed by the original band):

Possum Kingdom—Toadies*
Life Wasted—Pearl Jam
Billion Dollar Babies—Alice Cooper
Hush—Deep Purple
Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo—Rick Derringer
Dead!—My Chemical Romance*
The Trooper—Iron Maiden

Bonus unlockable songs
Drink Up—Ounce of Self
Kicked to the Curb—Noble Rot

There was one downloadable title available on the Xbox Live Marketplace, Rotgort, though it was likely just a placeholder. Rotgort (“Trogdor” backward) played and sounded exactly like the unlockable Strong Bad ditty. RedOctane says downloadable content is planned for launch, and more songs should be available throughout the game’s lifespan.

As expected there are 50 unlockable achievements, which are earned through a variety of methods. Here are a few of my favorites:

Eddie Van Halen Award—Get a 500 note streak
Life of the Party—Bought all characters
Record Collector—Bought all songs
Big Spender—Spent $10,000 at store
Perfectionist—Get 100% on a song
200k Club—Get 200,000 points in a song
Rock Snob Award—Refused to play an encore
Scoremonger—Got an 8x multiplier

There are also achievements for completing the various difficulty levels (easy, medium, hard and expert) and for playing through the game’s two-player modes. The game doesn’t support online multiplayer, though it does feature an online leaderboard. Players can connect to Xbox Live and see how their shredding stacks up against the rest of the world. Scores are sorted by individual songs and career modes. All difficulties are lumped together, meaning people who play on easy won’t have much of a chance against experts.

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