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Guitar Hero II

Guitar Hero II

Guitar Hero II

Guitar Hero II is a music rhythm game developed by Harmonix, published by Activision and distributed by RedOctane. It is the second installment in the Guitar Hero series and is the sequel to Guitar Hero. It was first released for the PlayStation 2 in November 2006 and then for the Xbox 360 in April 2007, with additional content not originally in the PlayStation 2 version.

Like in the original Guitar Hero, the player uses a guitar-shaped peripheral to simulate playing rock music as notes scroll towards the player. Most of the gameplay from the original game remains intact., provides new modes and note combinations. The game features more than 40 popular licensed songs, many of them cover versions recorded for the game, spanning five decades . The PlayStation 2 version of Guitar Hero II can be purchased individually or in a bundle that packages the game with a cherry red Gibson SG guitar controller. The Xbox 360 version of the game is offered in a bundle that packages the game with a white Gibson X-Plorer guitar controller. Both of these controllers are wired, but RedOctane also sells a wireless controller for the PlayStation 2.

Since its release, Guitar Hero II has been met with both critical and commercial success, helping the Guitar Hero series become a cultural phenomenon. As of December 1, 2007, the game has sold 3.1 million copies. It has spawned the "expansion" title Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s for the PlayStation 2. A full-fledged sequel, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, has been released by Neversoft, the makers of the popular Tony Hawk series.

Guitar Hero II Gameplay

Gameplay is based on the successful formula created for the first Guitar Hero game; the player may use the guitar peripheral to play scrolling notes by holding the corresponding fret button on the guitar neck and simultaneously pressing the strum bar. Alternatively, one can play with the DualShock 2 or Xbox 360 controller by using four shoulder buttons and a face button, mapped to specific fret keys.

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.

Reception
The PlayStation 2 version of Guitar Hero II was critically acclaimed. It received a 10/10 review in the December 2006 issue of Official U.S. 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 Australian video game talk show Good Game's two reviewers gave the game a 9/10 and 10/10.

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 9.6/10 from IGN, and a perfect score of 5/5 from Got-Next. 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. Hyper's Daniel Wilks commends the game for its "huge number of tracks" but criticises it for "some really average covers".

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. 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.

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, 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."


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