Guitar Hero II, Review And Thoughts

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As a music educator, I find Guitar Hero II to be a particularly interesting piece of software/hardware.  I recently purchased this game and  was able to get some “hands on” experience with it. Here are my first observations:

  • The soundtracks are original and awesome
  • The graphics are good-looking and great
  • The interface (read guitar) is well done
  • The game is addictive (even for one who plays the guitar like me)

All those things being said what makes the game “addictive” and “playable”?  For many non-musicians these types of games are the first time they get the thrill of being in a band and “creating” music. When you play this game on the harder levels it really does seem that you are playing every note; the designers made it that way.  The very fact that you have to strum each note and “fret” each note gives you that feeling of musical creation. When playing this game you can easily imagine yourself taking the “lead” and running riffs and solos.  It’s particularly interesting if you like/love “Rock” as the tunes that are playable are certainly some of the very best of the genre.

There are some very real and all too familiar strategies for getting better at this game: `Practice`, `Slow Down and Practice` and `Repeat and Practice`.  True to form with any discipline, especially music, these are the same ingredients that make one a better player at the piano, trumpet or any other instrument. This is the key to success at this game…and any other `real` instrument for that matter!

You can certainly learn some basic things as an aspiring “real” musician practicing this game such as rhythm and pitch to some extent (think whammy bar hear) and you will gain some independence of hands as you have to strum and finger the “chords” at the same time. But, that’s about it.

The biggest thing this game is missing is live human interaction, the feel you get when you are actually “feeding” off another musicians creative energies… building and creating something new together.   Although there is no substitute for the feeling that you get by playing in a real band in front of real people, this game does provide a glimpse of that kind of “glory” and for that it is addictive in its nature.

There is a new game coming out called “rock band” that will allow you to form a band over “Microsoft Live or some other “live” venue” and have each player play a part, drums, bass, guitar, vocal., etc.  It will be very interesting to see how that develops and if there is room for real music creation in it rather than “stock” riffs and solos.

Do I recommend the game? Sure, it’s great fun. If you’ve never experienced playing in a band for real, this game is really exciting, for me however, I’d rather play in one of my own bands… not that I won’t play a few riffs on this every now and then though! :)


[tags]guitar hero, guitar, hero, music, education, review, guitar hero review [/tags]
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Joseph M. Pisano, Ph.D. is an industry innovator, education clinician and lecturer, trumpeter and conductor, and the creator of many education websites. He is currently the Vice President of Innovation and Engagement at Keystone Ridge Designs, Inc. After twenty-three years as a professor and administrator at Grove City College, he made the move into industry in 2018.  As one of the youngest full professors in Grove City’s history, he served in various roles over his tenure including the Technical Director of the Pew Fine Arts Center, Assistant and Associate Chairs of Music and Music and Fine Arts, Director of Music and Fine Arts Technology, Director of Jazz Studies, Stage Manager, and he finished his tenure as the Director of Bands where he directed the college’s Symphonic Concert Band, Wind Ensemble, Marching Band, Pep Bands, and various small ensembles.

He been named a TI:ME Teacher of the Year, received the JEN Jazz Educator Award, the PA Citation of Excellence, and named a “member for life” of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association. He is a past Vice President of the Technology Institute for Music Educators, an associate member of the American Bandmasters Association,  a past President of the PA Intercollegiate Bandmasters Association, and a member of various education and music honoraries. He has written for numerous publications including DCI Magazine, Teaching Music Magazine, and was the Educational Editor for In-Tune Monthly Magazine for eight years; he has contributed hundreds of articles to various publications. He is an active conductor, trumpeter, clinician, and educator. Find out more at his website

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