The reason I know Guitar Hero is one of the most popular games on the planet is because my girlfriend has played it. Not only does my girlfriend never, ever play games ("They're silly and for kids…" what does she know?), she absolutely despises them; so it bewilders me to think she was enticed to pick up a fake guitar and start strumming some notes.
In that little story lies the brilliance of Guitar Hero. Anybody who sees it being played wants to get involved. We've all fantasised about being worshipped as rock Gods or Goddesses and Guitar Hero gives you the chance to fulfil that dream. You know a game justifies the title of "great" when you it can provide such contrasting reactions from gamers: first-timers turn around, silly grins on their faces as they miss every other note whilst experts stare fervently at the screen, their fingers blurred by the speed of their strumming motion.
Where do I fit into this puzzle? I'm a person with little or no musical talent; I don't play any instruments and could only argue that I can sing opera on the basis that my voice is unusually loud. I sat down with Guitar Hero II having played very little of the first one and struggled to get to grips with it at first. I made the mistake of jumping straight into the medium difficulty section. It was only when I actually went and did the tutorial did I begin to understand and appreciate the game.
So I played it through and thoroughly enjoyed it. My only grievance is the fact that my hand cramped up and hurt after about 30 minutes and that the pain wasn't noticeable whilst I played but hit me like an anvil when I finished. I guess true rock is painful.
You can tell this is a great game in that when you're not playing it you want to play it. Right now, whilst I write my thoughts here I can see the guitars and the Playstation staring at me, begging me to play one more song. It really draws you in, gets you hooked and provides hours of (slightly painful) fun.
I didn't mention it to any of my peers but I failed to recognise a lot of the songs on the playlist. For whatever reason, Guitar Hero II doesn't include as many chart-topping songs as the first game. It's certainly not due to a lack of cash, since Activision is about as loaded as games companies come and they're now behind the game. Either way I didn't find it took much away from my experience - sure I'd have liked to have played through some more renowned songs, but the ones that are included are still awesome. It even got me onto iTunes searching for some of the bands I hadn't heard of before. Now who are these fellas who call themselves Nirvana…
Forget that quiz game with Buzz, forget picking up the microphone for Singstar, you can even chuck out your cherished dance mats - this is the premiere, best ever party game out there. If you're planning on getting a whole load of mates round, having a few drinks and having a mess around this should be your game of choice. A brilliant idea for that Christmas Day afternoon – why settle for charades when you can be a ROCK STAR!