Rhythm and music games are becoming big, and the reason they are so big is because they are becoming extremely mainstream. Hand a regular PS2 controller to someone and they quiver and shake and don't want to try something new, however hand them something which resembles a real world object like a guitar, and they tend to be more interested. It has been proven time and time again and Guitar Hero proves it once again. If you build a fun, interesting game which is easy to play and has mainstream appeal it will be a huge success, and that is exactly what this game is.
Guitar Hero works somewhat in the same vein as Dance Dance Revolution. Unlike other Rhythm games where the DPAD control is an option for a second player, in Guitar Hero the guitar control which comes shipped with the game must be used. Featured on the controller is a number of coloured buttons and a strummer and it is this we feel that makes the game so popular and such fun to play, but it is only one of the many positive factors in this game.
As you would expect the game entails a number of game modes but the primary one is of course a career mode where you build up a reputation, play larger and larger gigs and ultimately unlock more songs to play with. However it's how you do this which is the core reason why this game is a must play. As with other rhythm games, small objects appear on the screen which you must 'hit' in time to make the music continue. However Guitar Hero some what takes this to a new level. Instead of just pressing one button, you strum and press a button which takes even more immaculate timing. When you have a situation with strumming, plus three button presses required, you can see that Guitar Hero is not a game that will be completed easily, except on the easiest level. It's hard to explain in words why the peripheral works so well and why you actually feel like you're the next Dire Straights. The design is such that anyone who has actually had a crack with a guitar will feel like they are playing a real guitar, moving fingers to feature different chords and strumming to get the sound. It's an ingenious piece of hardware which makes this game so good.
Of course there is a software side to this package as well which is built solidly and completes the whole package. Once you unlock songs in the single player career they can be played in a multiplayer format either together or against each other with the one big downside being that, as mentioned before, a second guitar control is required. Now if you're friend happens to have Guitar Hero this is all well and good but if not, well then unfortunately multiplayer is pretty much a no go zone. A tutorial mode also exists to teach you how to play the game but in general this is not required.
The other fact which completes the package even more is the song selection. If you've been a fan of music then you will find at least one song that rocks your world in this game. Artists range from 'Franz Ferdinand - Take me Out' through to something like the 'Donnas - Take it off' - Huge rock anthems which young and old will both recognise. One disappointment is that many of the songs are covers rather than original performances but Red Octane at least have tried to get bands which sound like the original so its not all bad news.
Visually, while not important, the game is also quite impressive. Crowds cheer and move in three dimensions to the music and the venues are quite realistic. During star mode huge fireworks and lighting effects take over but really the focus is purely on the gameplay and it passes with flying colours in this aspect.
Guitar Hero is a game that somewhat came out of no where but shows once again that original gameplay is not gone. The guitar peripheral which ships with the game just compliments it so well and with some of the biggest rock anthems around featured it will appeal to both young and old. We can not recommend this game enough, especially to those who want a game which they can play with casual and occasional gamers.