Guitar Hero II

Developed by Harmonix

Published by RedOctane

Now Available for PlayStation 2, Xbox 360

Guitar Hero II, a game that's been out for the PlayStation 2 for five months, has finally landed on the Xbox 360. Normally, this isn't the sort of thing that would warrant any attention—but when a game is so magically fun that it's probably made out of nothing but unicorns and pure cock-punching awesomeness, replaying it is almost worth the $89.99 price tag. Almost.

Guitar Hero was the first game to make the rhythm genre palatable to people other than overweight teens and tiny Japanese pixie girls, and its sequel continues that tradition nicely, with songs ranging from swamp-rock (Lynyrd Skynyrd), to grunge (Nirvana, Toadies), to obscure internet memes (Strong Bad). You'll almost certainly know all of these songs—and the ones you don't, you'll probably have heard at some point anyway, likely shouted at you through your apartment door by that one scary neighbor chick who swears she used to bang Ted Nugent.

Sadly, a few of the issues that arose with the PS2 version remain in the port, such as the utter monotony of playing bass in co-op mode, and the fact that almost all the songs had to be performed by cover bands (Ozzy sounds far too lucid to be believable). On the upside, the new guitar controller is much more sturdy than the previous model, leading us to wonder just how many people smashed the original in a fit of virtual Townshendism.

This newer version has quite a few new tricks to make up for it being a port, though, including downloadable songs, 10 brand-new tracks (from the likes of Pearl Jam, Rick Derringer, and Iron Maiden), and online leaderboards. But aside from that and a slight graphical upgrade (in a game where graphics almost don't matter), this is the same game you played five months ago. It's the videogame equivalent of David Lee Roth: Yes, it's prettier, more flexible, and rocks harder than Sammy Hagar, but either way, you're still sitting in your room without pants on, listening to a Van Halen album. EARNEST "NEX" CAVALLI