Guitar Hero II review

Take the stage for the greatest encore you've ever seen

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Friday 24 November 2006
Confession time: we can't play Guitar Hero on Normal mode any more. Yeah, you read that right: not 'don't', but 'can't'. Other games? Yeah, sometimes we like them easy. But in Guitar Hero, Normal just doesn't give us that buzz; that twitchy jolt of adrenaline that comes when your conscious brain shuts down and your fingers fly over the plastic. Orange notes are our drug, and we've been desperate for a fresh fix for months.

OK, we'll explain. Play on Normal in Guitar Hero and you're strumming along to a watered-down, low-fat version of whatever song you've picked. Chunks are missed out of runs, notes are ignored and - because Normal never uses that orange button - your hand never moves.

Until you start playing on Hard you aren't really playing at all: that's when you're forced to play virtually every note in the song and make tricky chord progressions like a real guitarist. It's when you need to start using hammer-ons and pull-offs - which have mercifully been made easier this time around.

It's also when you start to notice subtleties in songs you haven't heard before, and when you start to dream in button combinations. It's a beautiful experience, every bit as good as racing a perfect lap or doing a double flawless in Tekken. Some people, of course, will tell you that you'd be better off practicing the real guitar. These people are idiots.

More info

DescriptionThe sequel to Guitar Hero promises 55 new songs and the option to jam with friends on bass, rhythm or lead guitar tracks.
Franchise nameGuitar Hero
UK franchise nameGuitar Hero
Platform"PS3","Xbox 360","Wii","PS2","PC"
US censor rating"Teen","Teen","Teen","Teen","Teen"
UK censor rating"Rating Pending","Rating Pending","Rating Pending","Rating Pending","Rating Pending"
Alternative names"Guitar Hero 2","GH2"
Release date1 January 1970 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)
Joel Snape
Joel Snape enjoys Street Fighter V, any sandbox game that contains a satisfyingly clacky shotgun and worrying about the rise of accidentally-malevolent super-AI. He's also the founder-editor of, where he talks a lot about working out.