Jen and I went over to Club 279 above the Hard Rock Cafe tonight for a hands-on look at Guitar Hero II for the XBox 360. The venue was certainly appropriate with guitars hanging on the walls and nachos served out of a guitar case.
Front and center was the main stage for the event with a giant projected screen at the back and lit to suite the wannabe rockers in attendance. We were informed that the top axe master for the night would win a special prize at the end. After a few practice rounds and some observance of others on stage Jen and I concluded we didn't stand a chance and stuck to jamming on the demo consoles around the room.
I have to say I've always been a fan of Guitar Hero although I've never actually played. I enjoy beat/music games like DDR and I'm always up for a few rounds of the PS2 classic, Amplitude. Unfortunately I don't own a PS2 and my friends would never dish the cash for Guitar Hero so I always looked on in envy. Well finally I can get my groove on as GHII makes it's way onto the 360 next week.
The new Xplorer controller is light and nimble and feels like a natural fit. It doesn't take much to figure out how to play out the easy level riffs - hold the fret and pick the string. Seems simple enough. Let's just say I tried a mid-level track at medium difficulty and quickly realized I had much to learn if I was ever going to achieve my rock star dreams.
There are tonnes of new tracks including some bonus stuff. With Xbox Live Marketplace there could be a nearly endless stream of new music for users to purchase. Some people have taken offence to the idea of having to pay for new tracks but I fully support this. It costs money to license that music. I'd rather keep the initial cost down and let me pick and choose the extras. I'm really hoping they offer some regional content as well. How awesome would it be to kick back and wail out some classic Tragically Hip at your next backyard bash. What really made the track list complete for me though was seeing Trogdor as performed by Strongbad on the list. Seriously. It rocks.
Possibly one of the greatest things about GHII coming to the 360 is that this is one of the best "fun for everyone" multi-player games the console has seen. Xbox has really started to blossom out into a wider variety of genres - a move that should help it secure a solid position in people's homes and help it win new fans in the battle against the PS3 and the Wii.
If you don't see many posts from me after next week, come jam with me on Xbox Live because that's probably where I'll be :)