Summary: The surprise hit Guitar Hero is now getting something that isn't surprising - a sequel. JCal gets the rundown on the new game.
FiringSquad: First, the original Guitar Hero became a sleeper hit. Were Harmonix and RedOctane surprised by the response?
Bryan Lam: We always felt Guitar Hero would resonate with a particular audience of gamers, though its popularity has definitely grown much larger and quicker than what we initially thought it would be. Now with the millions of fans worldwide clamoring on every news item, it has certainly taken on a life of its own.
FiringSquad: When the time came to work on the sequel, what were the development team's main goals?
Bryan Lam: The main goal was to take the same insane rock experience that everyone enjoyed in the first game, and really turn it up another 11 notches. Why mess with something that isn’t broke? So with the designated lead time for development, licensing of songs, the addition of a slew of new content and features, we really tried to expand further on the game play experience to be even more addictive than the original! The ability to develop a successful sequel and improve the game by leaps and bounds is extremely rare these days, though we believe Guitar Hero II has accomplished just that.
FiringSquad: What sort of feedback did you get from fans of the game and from rock guitarists that made it into the final version?
Bryan Lam: You’d be surprised by how many rock bands are enthralled with Guitar Hero, and is their favorite game. Just the other day, the guitarist from New Found Glory called my direct line and asked what songs made it into this year’s set list…I thought that was pretty crazy. Then I was reading through SPIN magazine last month, and Panic! At The Disco was talking about how they play Guitar Hero every chance they get while on tour. I can go on and on about all the different bands that are obsessed with it and want to be a part of the game, though that’d take an extremely long time.
FiringSquad:What differences are there between the controller in the first game and in Guitar Hero II?
Bryan Lam: The most obvious is the color, as it’s now Classic Red. It still has the same familiar Gibson SG shape, though there have been some minor improvements such as the fret buttons being slightly raised, the strum bar has been tightened, and the chord has been reinforced because players were just rocking out too hard and yanking out the wire! Though these differences certainly aren’t anything major, it’s subtle enough for the hardcore Guitar Hero fan to notice and appreciate.
FiringSquad:The game has a new practice mode. What can you tell us about the new addition?
Bryan Lam: It was definitely a much needed and requested feature! If you were able to conquer Bark at The Moon on expert within the first ten thousand tries, then you deserve some major props. Though admittedly, I know I was real close to slamming my guitar on the ground more than a few times! With practice mode, players will be stoked to now be able to pick different songs, select specific sections of that song, slow it up to four different speeds, and master it until they get it right.
Bryan Lam: In Guitar Hero II, the multiplayer modes will be Face-off, Pro Face-off, and Co-op. Face-off is your classic versus mode where players battle against each other while trading off sections of the lead guitar track. Pro face-off is slightly different, as players can now compete head-to-head with both individuals ripping through full lead guitar tracks. Co-op is definitely the most significant key feature we have added this year, and to help complete the entire rock band experience, players will now be able to play the lead, and bass or rhythm guitars. Each player will be able to select their own difficulty, and all specific measurements are now shared from the total score to rock meter to multipliers. Further, to activate Star Power, they’ll both have to be in sync and lift their guitars at the same time in order to unleash the full power of RAWK!
FiringSquad:What new power ups and other features have been added to Guitar Hero II?
Bryan Lam: Players will certainly notice in Guitar Hero II, the hammer-ons and pull-offs have been mildly tweaked to be more gamer-friendly. Trying to rip through ridiculous solos in the first game was an achievement only for the experts. So we decided to widen the parameters for greater accessibility and a more exciting experience for others. Don’t get us wrong though, if you think Guitar Hero II will be any easier than the first, then you better think again, because the length and difficulty of each song in this year’s game, along with the intense amount of finger-numbing solos, will absolutely blow your mind!
FiringSquad:Visually does the game have a different look than the original title?
Bryan Lam: Most definitely! Fans will notice the graphics and textures of the characters, venues, and instruments are all quite sharper than before, and the new animations will add further flare and drama to the whole experience when rockin’ out. You’ll just have to play some of the encore tracks to really understand what I mean.
FiringSquad:The song list for the game is, of course, hugely important. How hard was it to get the kinds of songs that the team wanted to be included in Guitar Hero II?
Bryan Lam: More difficult than actually getting the songs, was debating which ones would end up in the final game. Our selection committee consists of different folks from both our developer, Harmonix, and RedOctane, and considering each of us are on total opposite coasts of the country, there was undoubtedly different tastes in music. Though in the end, we were able to put together what we believe is an amazing list of legendary and popular bands that feature some of the greatest rock n’ roll songs of all time.
FiringSquad:We know its early but what can you tell us about the extra features that will be in the upcoming Xbox 360 version of the game?
Bryan Lam: Well, the details regarding the Xbox 360 version are slim at the moment, as we’re still in the process of confirming our feature set and content. Though we can report that there will be a new X-Plorer controller that is designed specifically for the platform, and exclusive downloadable content will be available through Xbox Live Marketplace. Being able to keep the content fresh and exciting is definitely a top priority for us, and when we’re able to make further announcements, we know everyone will be more than thrilled to hear what we have in store.
FiringSquad:Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Guitar Hero II?
Bryan Lam: You need to immediately stop reading this interview, drop anything you’re doing, and run as fast as you can to your local store to purchase a thousand copies of Guitar Hero II. Really, I mean it…you won’t regret it…Go!!
|© Copyright 2003 FS Media, Inc.|