Put down the air guitar and step away from the mirror. Your days merely pretending to be a rock & roll demigod are over. Guitar Hero makes your dreams of six-string superstardom come true ... as long as you don't mind strapping bits of plastic to your body.
Guitar Hero comes with a special mini-guitar controller, shaped like a Gibson SG (think AC/DC). Five buttons on the neck correspond to five "notes" on the screen. As rock anthems like "Killer Queen," "I Wanna Be Sedated" and "You've Got Another Thing Coming" punch their way through your speakers, you press the correct button at the correct time while strumming a lever in the guitar's body. Think of it as Dance Dance Revolution for the mullet-and-leather-pants set.
Guitar Hero feels similar to the PS2 music games Frequency and Amplitude, and rightfully so, because it's from the same creators. Their expertise pays off here; with solid underlying technology and gameplay, the developers were able to spend time infusing the game with personality. Pick your stage presence - meaty metalhead, British punk, latex-wearing Goth chick, even the grim reaper - then watch them strut and shred their way from basement parties to stadium tours.
All the songs are cover versions, created with impressive and comforting accuracy; if you already know the tunes, you'll be able to play along instantly. Unless, of course, you already play guitar in real life - it's still a video game simulation (albeit a very good one that you can even play with a real guitar pick) so hitting the actual rhythms of the song will sometimes make you lose. But this is a rarity.
You even get points for striking a rock-star pose. By hitting certain, star-shaped notes, you'll fill up your Star Meter. Once that's topped off, yank the guitar neck upward (there's a tilt sensor in it) and that'll kick in your Star Power - your on-screen persona will fling his or her axe into the air, play behind the back and get massive points while it lasts. The more accurate your playing, the more cash you get to buy new songs, guitars and more.