Red Octane blew the doors out of the music gaming genre with Guitar Hero for the PlayStation 2. The game was revolutionary and mixed Dance Dance Revolution gameplay mechanics with an amazing Guitar peripheral based on a Gibson electric guitar. The game made you feel like a Rock Star and is one of the best music based games out there. Therefore, it's only natural that a sequel would be in the works. That sequel is Guitar Hero 2 and I got a chance to rock out with it on my second day of E3 coverage. The game is about 20% complete at the moment with graphics similar to the original and new songs.
The demo available at E3 had only a couple of songs available but one of the developers mentioned that the final version would have 50+ in the final release. These included hits such as War Pigs from Black Sabbath, You really got me by Van Halen, YYZ from Rush, and others. All these songs let the player get into the lead guitar, bass guitar, or even rhythm guitar roles. The game also allows for co-op mode, in which two players play different guitar roles during a song and success depends on the ability of both players. The co-op mode also encourages greater cooperation between players in the way it implements the star power activation. For those unfamiliar with the previous game, star power in Guitar Hero lets you quickly gain the enthusiasm of the crowd and doubles the amount of points you get for performing the song correctly. But in the new co-op mode, instead of one player having to place the guitar vertically, both players have to perform this action at the same time. This feature greatly increases player communication during gameplay, since getting a high score is highly dependent on the players' ability to perform this move at the right time.
Besides the new co-op mode, the game also appears to have become slightly harder. Even normal and hard mode seems a lot more challenging than before, depending on the chosen song. A new feature of Guitar Hero 2 that makes the game even harder than before is the three-button combo. This move takes a lot of practice to perform correctly and may cause inexperienced players to miss quite a bit of notes during gameplay. And if all that wasn't enough to get you excited about the new challenges in the sequel, the bass and rhythm guitar modes are even harder than playing lead guitar and give a new meaning to the word "EXTREME". But even though the game is tougher, the final version promises to have a practice mode that lets players get acquainted with particular sections of a tough song and hopefully perform better.
While co-op and the new challenges are great new features, the question that still remains with fans is how the acquisition of RedOctane by Activision will change the game if at all. According to RedOctane, the new owner won't change the way they makes games and if anything, should help them get more games out there with greater financial security. The game also looks only slightly different than the previous version but the 20% completion statement does offer hope of new features such as new characters, more guitars, and others that have yet to be announced. Guitar Hero 2 is still one of the best musical games out there with a lot of hidden potential, but its success still depends on whether or not it improves upon the previous formula and manages to please fans with new innovations.