Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Squeedly vs meedly

"Guitar Hero II might appear to be a game, but it's actually composed of cleverly packaged pockets of productivity-sucking awesomeness created by Satan." - Total PlayStation

Several of my workmates were inclined to question my sanity when I recently purchased the PS2 game Guitar Hero despite not owning a PS2. Since this was before playing Guitar Hero, I still had some semblance of rational thought; my plan was to play it on a PS2 that a friend had brought to the office. That day, I stayed at the office until 9 pm. I then borrowed the console for the weekend, during which I strummed and thrashed my way through the game on medium difficulty. The game makes you look silly, with its child-sized plastic guitar controller, but it really makes you feel like you're playing a real instrument, and playing well at that; I got 5 stars on most songs on the first try. The end result was that I bought Guitar Hero II as well last Tuesday, complete with another guitar so I could play with my brothers, and borrowed a PS2 indefinitely from another friend who is currently deprived of a TV to which to connect the console.

Thus began my downfall. The game harbours a ridiculous amount of fun, especially in the multi-player modes. It's entirely skill-based and chock-full of soft obstacles, which suck you into the flow of the game. It's hard to stop playing, when you can always play "just one more" song, or play a song again and again to nail those awesome solo licks. When my younger brother and one of his real-life band mates came to visit during Easter, our living room was suddenly transformed into a rehearsal studio when they decided to hone their skills on Killing in the name of, playing it maybe 15-20 times in a row.

The game is deceivingly easy to get started with if you have some rhythm perception and hand-eye coordination, and is nearly open-ended if you strive to perfect your scores on the expert difficulty. In other games, different difficulty levels do not equate replayability, at least to me, since the added difficulty doesn't add to the experience. In Guitar Hero, the higher the difficulty, the more your fingers are following the licks and riffs, and the more it feels like you're actually playing the song. Speaking of difficulty levels, the separate difficulty settings in cooperative mode is a stroke of pure genius. Now my brother, former guitar virtuoso, and his girlfriend, self-proclaimed music illiterate, can play together and thoroughly enjoy themselves.

Basically, Harmonix have done everything right. The only possible fault I can find is that the games are too short. I eagerly await Guitar Hero III and Guitar Hero: 80's edition.

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