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Microsoft's Xbox 360 has joined ranks with Sony's Playstation 2 welcoming the Guitar Hero series to its line-up. Guitar Hero II is the ultimate party game trumping other interactive games like Dance Dance Revolution and American Idol. Players clutch the mock Gibson Xplorer guitar complete with whammy bar and ham it up in front of their friends. The premise of the game remains the same strum the correct frets as they roll down the screen, racking up points as you rawwwk. The unruly crowd has little patience for blunders; fuck up too many chords, and they'll boo your proletarian ass off stage. With a five-button fret board and strum bar, you had better have the hand-eye coordination of an East Asian fishmonger to compete on the advanced difficulty settings.
To stave off the mob's hiss, gamers can enter practice mode playing rhythm, lead or bass guitars to improve their chops before taking their created band into career mode where furious fretwork can build up a solid career score. And, if signed up to Xbox Live, individual career or song scores can be compared with those shredding around the world.
Multiplayer game play is where Guitar Hero II takes hold offering three different modes: cooperative mode, face-off mode and pro face-off mode. During cooperative mode, player one rocks lead guitar while the other plucks the bass accumulating the highest score possible while executing scissor kicks from the coffee table. Face-off and pro face-off modes involve players competing against each other on lead guitar proving who's got the chops.
The game's considerable blemish is the lack of online game modes with a console so adept in online gaming, the lack of said capability is a real blow. (Rumor has it that Red Octane is working on an update to add online game modes. However, with Guitar Hero III coming out before the holiday season, that seems unlikely.)
The Xbox 360 version of the games features an intensive tracklist spanning generations and genres with more 70 songs ranging from the effortless pace of Cheap Trick's "Surrender" to the vigorous solo shredding of Skynyrd's "Free Bird." Other bands featured include Rancid, Nirvana, Iggy and the Stooges, the Allman Brothers, Thin Lizzy, Stray Cats, Iron Maiden and many, many more. However, most songs are covers with the exceptions of Primus' "John the Fisherman," My Chemical Romance's "Dead!" and Jane's Addiction's "Stop!"
The Guitar Hero II bundle comes complete with guitar, game and stickers. (To the Metro Times staff's displeasure, the game did not contain backstage hand jobs and libations on the house.) The game will never make you a coke- and booze-addled rock star not yet, anyway but it offers a near-endless supply of ad hoc machismo and illusory stardom.
Dustin Walsh is a freelance writer. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.