It's hard to really explain how much I love Guitar Hero II. But I don't really have to, because everyone else seems to as well (reviews: GameSpot, GameSpy, GameRankings). It's one of those games that anyone can play and have a blast. I played the first Guitar Hero for the PS2, which totally rocked, but the sequel's arrival on the Xbox 360 is a distinct upgrade. The graphics are totally better, although that's more a feature for the spectators, not the player. There's a cooperative mode where one player can play lead and the other can play rhythm or bass. There are more songs. As a 360 title there are achievements, which are well balanced. There are also leaderboards where you can size yourself up against your friends or the whole world (I'm currently ranked around 13,000). The gameplay itself is more of the same, but no one's complaining about that.
There's no doubt that Guitar Hero II is a great game. But its popularity opens it up to high scrutiny, and there's a lot of controversy around some of the features. Two of the most obvious additions for a 360 based Guitar Hero would be wireless controller and downloadable content. The lack of a wireless controller I've come to terms with, since real guitars aren't wireless. But there's been a ton of controversy around the pricing of the downloadable tracks. If you applied the pricing they're using to the 50 songs that came with the game it would cost over $100 to download them, yet the game with the guitar was only $90. You can debate how much one of these songs should cost, but no matter what number you arrive at it sure shouldn't be more than the current box price. I want downloadable content, I do. I bought the tracks that are available, as overpriced as they are. I will happily re-purchase all the tracks from the first Guitar Hero, because I see the value of having them instrumented for coop and whatnot. But I'd rather not get gouged in the process.
As I've mentioned before there's also some controversy over Guitar Hero II's unlockable content. I personally felt the pain of that the first time I tried to plop down on a different Xbox and play multiplayer. Your experience is pretty limited when you start out with only a fifth of the songs. And you can't unlock new songs via multiplayer - you have to go antisocial and unlock them in singleplayer first. There's supposedly an unlock all cheat code, but I could never get it to work. The best way I've found to handle this is to put your save game on a memory stick and carry that with you. But even then only one person gets credit for coop unlockables. Coop is an absolute blast, so it's a shame they didn't iron out more of the kinks.
The problems are minor in the grand scheme of things as they don't prevent the game from being fun. I guess it just gives the developer some stuff to smooth out in the software for Guitar Hero III. My only question with Guitar Hero is when can I get more of it? Are we going to get more downloadable tracks? What about the awesomeness that is Guitar Hero 80's? Is their strategy to sell yearly discs or to rock the downloadable content? It honestly doesn't matter to me, as long as I can get my fix. So far it seems my appetite for Guitar Hero is insatiable.