Guitar Hero II vs. Guitar Hero III, with special guests Rock Band, Marshmallow Mod

We ordered Guitar Hero II along with Rock Band, as long as it’s still available. Besides, III’s about done and dusted by now. I’m taking my first steps on Hard, and it’s so much hard, frustrating work that I don’t think I’m going to bother.

I have played Guitar Hero II previously, but not in the peace of my own home. I’m surprised by a couple of things. First are the songs: I’ve been pampered by the many original recordings featured in GH III and especially Rock Band that a game full of covers of dubious quality is not very pleasing. Wolfmother’s “Woman” was not the ride it should be. I’m only halfway through the game, but it does feel that they’ve really stepped up their game with the songlists in the successing titles. It’s not bad by any means, but highpoints are few and far between. I downloaded the Guitar Hero I song packs to get some of the best tunes in the series to boost the setlist, though.

The second surprising thing are the graphics. Obviously they’re of a lower quality, having been ported from the Playstation 2 original and having not had the budget of the later titles, but I feel that functionally they’re weaker than GH III. I find it hard to read the colors and it took some time before I learned how to spot the hammer-ons and pull-offs. It could do with a lot more contrast, which is exactly what GH III did with the visuals. The Star Power effect is rather jarring as well, whereas in GH III it does not hinder your play. Stylistically, it’s great, no gripes there.

Finally comes the notation, the way the “notes” are arranged to the music. This is the one thing I’ve heard a lot of criticism about in regards to GH III and upon playing GH II, the difference is immediately apparent. Since I’m no musician, I can’t even tell whether it follows the music more closely, or what, but it just feels better. It’s more fun to play GH II, even though I’ve played GH III a lot. Especially playing on Hard is a whole different world. It feels manageable, not a full-on slaughter of the hapless player who wanted to see if he would be up to handling the dreaded, coveted, fifth, orange fret. Sure, you miss notes while learning, but it feels like you could make it with a little practice.

And what of Rock Band? We ordered the instrument edition from Amazon UK, which was delivered in less than a day, and the game DVD from Play UK, which has now taken too much time (four days) to make it here in time for our Midsummer’s Eve celebration tomorrow. I’d swear, if it wasn’t in poor taste.

I did spend one night during the week to put together my version of the marshmallow mod. I couldn’t find any self-adhesive weather stripping – I just used foam plastic, cut into a strip from a seat covering and put it together into a pretty tight package with some canvas tape, the kind you’d use on tools and ice hockey sticks to get a better grip. I thought that masking tape wouldn’t be strong enough and it might leave a sticky film on the drums. Plus the canvas tape is a cool black color! I don’t yet know if it’s quiet enough or durable enough, but they look pretty spiffy.






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