Friday, January 05, 2007

Guitar Hero II: the Solo of the Holy Grail

The song "Laid to Rest" is my least favorite song in Guitar Hero II.

Sort of.

Laid to Rest is a fairly pedestrian song with one very nasty exception: a solo near the end. Very nasty.

So I'm practicing this solo. I use Practice mode pretty extensively at this point in the game, because these songs are damned hard and I'm just not that good. I've gotten this far with effort, not talent.

I'm also practicing the solo ("verse 3") on the slowest speed. There are four speeds in practice mode: full speed, slow, slower, slowest.

Slowest is very, very slow. And because it's so slow, I start noticing that a bunch of notes seem to have the white tops that indicate they can be hammer-on/pull-offs. I restart the section and just watch. Every single note after the first one can be HO/PO.

192 notes.

Realizing that all of those notes can be connected--without using the strum bar a single time--made me giddy. Maybe there are longer note sequences like that in the game, but I've never seen one. So immediately, my primary goal became not to pass the song but to play that solo.

This isn't that unusual, and it's one of the best things about both Guitar Hero games. Seemingly, the goal would be to finish the game, but that's not exactly how it works, because intermediate goals alway seem to be popping up. So while I'm working Laid to Rest in Expert mode, I'm also going back and playing songs in Hard mode, trying to at least 4-star all of them.

The reason I'm mentiong this is because I think this solo is actually attainable for most of us. I can get 100% on the two slowest speeds now, and I'm up to 75% on the "slow" speed, which is only one speed below full. And even at 75%, I'm having runs of 40-50 notes without a mistake, which is an unbelievable rush. Playing that many notes in a row without using the strum bar might be the single best feeling I've ever had playing the game.

There's an additional benefit to playing this song in practice mode at below full speed: you don't have to listen to the vocal. It has one of those angry, growling, shouting vocals that just isn't my style. And I don't mean because I'm old--it was never my style. So for me, listening to that song with the vocal is like hearing fingernails on a chalkboard.

I'm going to keep practicing and I'll let you know how it goes.

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