Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero only just makes it onto the Abarcy Active Games section, thanks to its motion-sensitive guitar controller. It's not a very physical game, although you will develop strong fingers after playing it for an hour or more.

The real strength of Guitar Hero is in its song list. Whereas some music games will fob you off with a lot of no-name songs, nearly everything on this game is a classic, or at the very least something created by a real rock band. There are tracks by Megadeth, Deep Purple, David Bowie, Motorhead, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Sum 41, and more. The 47 songs cover old and new rock, and various genres including glam rock, nu-metal and heavy metal.

The guitar controller itself is easy to use. A little lighter and smaller than a regular guitar, it has five buttons in the place of strings and frets. So playing Guitar Hero is simplified compared with a real guitar, and a lot easier on your fingertips. Unfortunately this means that the closest you'll come to learning to play the guitar will be in the sense of getting the timing right.

You progress through the game five songs at a time, and you need to complete four out of each set of five in order to unlock the next set. On easy level you can only unlock 25 songs, and it's not until you try the harder difficulty settings (medium, hard and expert) that you can unlock all the songs. Playing well and getting good reviews on these levels allows you to earn money to spend in the Unlock Shop. Here you can open up new guitars, skins, characters, songs and videos about the making of the game. The better you can play the more money you get, so there is an incentive to go back and perfect songs that you have already completed.

The graphics are no better than okay, with stylized rockers and settings rather than the stunning realism and eye-candy that we know the PS2 is capable of. But the fact is, you won't be looking too hard at the graphics anyway. As the game progresses the chord changes come thick and fast, and the fingerwork will take all your attention.

Guitar Hero works because attention has been paid to the things that really matter in this type of game: the music and the playability. Although some of the songs are very hard to play, there's a gradual progression from the easy songs to the harder ones, so that learning them is a lot of fun rather than being frustrating. And if you have the manual dexterity to complete the whole game, the chances are you would make a fair guitarist and it might just inspire you to pick up the real thing.