A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the songs in this game include sexual euphemism and drinking and drug references, and some of the game takes place in bars. Some profanity has been edited out of the songs, but kids will still hear "hell." Most of the songs are from well-known commercial bands, and the game promotes a guitar store and guitar gear. The game is best played with the special guitar-shaped controller, which adds to the price.
What's it about?
As in the first game, the appeal of GUITAR HERO II comes from the air-guitar-meets-karaoke thrills players get when jamming to some great rock-'n'-roll songs. Although the game can be played with a standard Playstation 2 controller, to get the full experience it is best to purchase a version that includes a guitar shaped controller ($80 versus $50 without the controller). Gameplay involves strumming the controller and pushing fret buttons in time to the music. The new cooperative mode lets two players tackle one song, with one player on lead guitar and the second player on bass or rhythm guitar, depending on the song.
Is it any good?
The Guitar Hero formula is so much fun that even if a sequel were nothing but a collection of new songs, it would still be worth playing. With two guitar controllers, Guitar Hero II is one of the most fun party games in ages. Single players will find a great new addition in the practice mode: On higher difficulty setting, the songs become very difficult. This time around, the songs even seem a bit faster on easier levels, making the game a potential challenge to new players.
Here's the bottom line: Guitar Hero II is just as much of a blast as the original. Players who missed the first game will find the sequel to be a friendly game even for the musically challenged, thanks to the practice mode. And players who already have the first game and have friends to play with may wish to consider spending a bit more for a second controller to go with the new game. Long live rock 'n' roll!
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about issues related to the songs in the game. Do songs about sex and drugs encourage kids to engage in risky behaviors? Does playing along to licensed songs make you want to purchase recordings by a band? Families may also wish to discuss the difference between playing a creative game like this one and a shoot-'em-up game. Which teaches you better skills? Which is more enjoyable and why?
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.