Ready To Rock!

One of the breakout hits of the 2005 gaming world was Guitar Hero, a relatively basic concept, a rhythm game played with a specialized guitar-shaped controller, now, a year later, Red Octane has released the sequel, Guitar Hero II and taken a great game and made it even better.

The gameplay is relatively straightforward, playing on the distinctive 3/4 size Gibson - style guitar with 5 fret buttons, a strum bar and a whammy bar, players strum and tap the fret buttons based upon the notes on the screen to cover some of the greatest guitar songs ever (or at least available for licensing.) Join up with another GH fan and play competitively (with separate purchase of controller that is) or cooperatively - with one player taking lead guitar and the other as rhythm guitar or on the bass.

Playing as a member of a local cover band, playing in the career mode you'll earn cash to purchase new guitars, unlock songs, buy different outfits and unlock different characters to play. Impress the crowd with your playing to move forward, but don't worry, if you start missing some notes activate your star power to wow the crowd and leave them chanting your name.

With songs from artists like Motley Crue, Spinal Tap, Kiss and Nirvana, the 55 available tracks will provide plenty of challenge for any ability level. Face melting tracks like Rage Against the Machines "Killing in the Name Of" or Lynard Skynard's "Freebird" will leave you feeling like the rock god you always wanted to be.

Overall the game is straightforward, see color play color easy, and without a big time commitment you'll find yourself playing as though that band you started in your garage actually took off. The worst thing about Guitar Hero 2 is putting it down; it's wildly addictive and can consume your time like nothing else. Pick up your own ax today and rock out like video games have never done before.

Gameplay: 8
Graphics: 6.3
Sound/Music: 10
Overall: 9.4
Learning Curve: approximately 20-30 minutes depending on how much rhythm you have

Guitar Hero II is available for the Playstation 2 and is in stores now.

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