Guitar Hero II (2006)

A love-letter to rock made by-fans-for-fans with phenomenal craftsmanship, effervescent design touches, perfect curated setlists, customizations, & colorful/vivacious performance simulations bleeding metal/underdog-charm. 9.6/10.

Plot Synopsis: 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

*Possible spoilers ahead*

Review: This might be the start of a beautiful nostalgic gaming franchise here. The new Guitar Hero II is absolutely sensational; a true transportive love-letter to (more indie) rock quaint design touches and an overall more intimate motif. From the notebook and bedrooms sets starting out with a classic 80’s high school Battle of The Bands gig playing classic silky ballads like Cheap Trick’s Surrender and Nirvana’s sorcery-like Heart-Shaped Box all the way to rocking out Vans Warped Tour with Rush and Misirlou and freaking Stonehedge with one of the most legendary rock tracks of All-Time in Skynyrd’s Free Bird – alien abductions and all – you are taken on tour as a passenger to the ultimate rockstar experience designed by people you can just feel love the music, sound, and vibes of the genre as much as you do.

The soundtrack might even be the best in the series looking back on it today almost 14 years later; THAT’s how good it is with its more indie and unknown songs using its platform to spread fame and love to them while grouping in curated setlists with beautiful precision and perfection in flow smoothly from one track to another in sets. The more pronounced and developed cast of iconic GH characters is also a pro with good customizability in characters ranging from punk Johnny Knox to Jimi Hendrix-like soul brothers to my personal favorite the mysterious Pandora to even the Grim Reaper playing a scythe for a guitar – incredibly sick!

The multiplayer and control in gameplay reigned in from the somewhat-wild and all-over-the-place nature of its predecessor is also downright impressive and, although it gets a bit spotty in solos as a learning curve how it got from GHI’s note/strum system to as advanced it is later in the series, it still makes for unbelievably fun gameplay. Besides its occasionally spotty strum system (and annoying screeches when you miss notes that pile up and get ~unbearable in solos) and a few ridiculous star-power celebrations like the characters literally throwing their guitars in the air, spinning them like batons, or playing them like a violin which obviously would not work and allow them to keep playing in real life, GHII is phenomenal.

A breathtaking love-letter to rock made by uber-fans for uber-fans, with phenomenal guitar-based craftsmanship, (quaint) design touches, curated (more indie-feeling discovery) setlists, and colorful/vivacious graphics and performance simulation sets, GHII is a legendary video game. This could be the start of the next massive gaming franchise.

Official CLC Score: 9.6/10