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Guitar Hero II

Monday 16 October 2006
Guitar Hero's instantaneous appeal started with the guitar itself: the chunky, tactile plastic talisman that so effortlessly drew players out of themselves and into the music.

The same shouldn't be true of the sequel - available sans controller, it's a refinement and expansion, all about the songs. But the new, cherry-red variant that ships with Guitar Hero II will prove tempting to many who never bought a second controller first time round (and maybe even some who did). Appropriately so, because it's with two players that this game, more so even than the first, comes into its own.

The competitive score attack returns and will be as compelling as ever to jousting alpha axemen. But the rivalries it encouraged were always underpinned by the joy of wringing a tune out together and GHII capitalises on this in a new cooperative mode, with the second player taking on a bass or rhythm guitar part according to the song.

Unlike competitive matches, these songs can be failed. The inclusive, collaborative spirit is further reinforced - in versus mode as well - by the option for each player to select their own difficulty level, meaning guitarists of all abilities can be challenged and entertained side-by-side.

It's more a correction of a horrible oversight than an unforeseen stroke of genius but it's nothing less than hugely welcome.

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