Red Octane’s Guitar Hero has got to be one of the runaway hit videogame of ’06. People just love to strap on an axe and rock out to their favorite tunes, ripping and shredding in front of the arena crowds. Of course, the great thing about the game is that you don’t have to be a musician to play and you don’t even have to leave the game console to suddenly be thrust in front of adoring fans screaming for more of your fret skills. Guitar Hero places you smack dab in the middle of the onstage action and all you have to be able to do is press buttons and bang your head to rack up points and be…yes, you guessed it, a Guitar Hero!
So it’s no wonder that fans were lining up in droves at the Red Octane booth was to preview the sequel, Guitar Hero II, at this year’s E3. With many new features and new songs, the game had rockers and, yes, even rollers, shrieking in delight and rockin’ out as they tore through some tasty licks and blasted out choice riffs. Guitar Hero II will be released on PlayStation 2 in November, and it couldn’t be soon enough for these faithful fans.
G4 managed to trap Guitar Hero producer Daniel Sussman, who is the Project Lead for the sequel, in a dark corner of E3 and blindside him with a flurry of questions on your behalf. We poked and probed him for insight into the new game, and even dug deep (well, not that deep) into his own personal love of the rock. Read on, and remember, if it’s too loud, then you’re too old….or have a slight hearing problem and should see a doctor.
Hi, Daniel. Great to see ya here at E3. So how is the new Guitar Hero different from the original?
In a lot of ways it’s not all that different; we’re not changing things just for the sake of changing things. We’re adding a lot of content. It’s 40 new songs plus a lot of cool underground, unlocked stuff. We have have new outfits for a lot of the characters, new venues, all that stuff is what makes it a sequel. We’re throwing a cool of new modes in to make things more fun, more accessible. We have really cool practice mode and a new multi-player, co-op mode where two players play on the same team for one high score. In that mode, one player plays the lead part and one plays the rhythm part, whether it’s the bass, rhythm guitar, dual leads, it kind of depends on what the song is. We’re picking the best alternate track from the song.
So like you could be playing Thin Lizzy or Judas Priest stuff with two players?
Totally. There’s tons of music out there, Allman Brothers, Iron Maiden, there’s bands out there that’d be perfect that we haven’t signed up yet but we’re definitely looking.
What are some of the songs we can expect?
We’re still hard at work on the set list. We didn’t hide anything from the E3 show this year, so everything we had we showed on the floor. So we got Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” Kiss’ “Strutter,” and Reverend Horton Heat’s “Psychobilly Freakout”…
Wow, the Rev!
“Psychobilly Freakout” is probably the hardest thing we’ve ever done ‘cause it’s super fast and super frenetic, but it’s play really well. It’s hard.
Are you a guitar player yourself?
Yes I am.
What’s your axe of choices?
I play al Les Paul. I’ve always been a Gibson guy. It was kind of funny when the Gibson deal got put together for Guitar Hero ‘cause all of a sudden I have all these emails of people I can ask nerdy pick-up questions to.
Who is your favorite guitar player?
I’m old school. I call Led Zeppelin the best band in history. I kinda cut my teeth on Jimmy Page stuff. I was a big metal head, Slayer, Kerry King. He’s not a guy I try to sound like, but he was a big influence.
Are you excited about the new Slayer album?
Yeah, totally. They are touring this summer. They’re great.
I read this quote from Kerry that said this would be their fastest album ever, and I thought, “How is that possible?” How much more fast can you get?
I know! I just feel bad for their drummer, man.
What about Yngwie Malmsteen?
Oh man, I hate Yngwie!!!
Who doesn’t? What was the reaction out on the E3 floor from the fans? How do they like the new game?
It was incredible. People were packed into our booth and the Sony booth playing it every minute of every day! I walked around and saw people playing it with these incredible sh*t-eating grins on their faces. It blows my mind, and I’m really stoked people like the game so much. It shows really well. I’m really proud of our team. They put together a great demo for the show and people are liking it.
Do you think there’s this inherent desire in people to wanna be a rock star?
Yeah. That’s totally the case. It’s true for me personally, but I’m just psyched that people are excited about rock music. We’re excited about the guitaryness of it all.
Yeah, we have this whole Guitar hero thing about, “We gotta make it guitary!”
Have ya seen anything else cool here at E3 this year?
I’m just so impressed by the whole show. You walk in and you’re just hit, like all five sense are on overload. It’s awesome. It’s a great show this year. All the new Nintendo, Sony, Xbox stuff…
What game as a kid steered you towards this life in videogame?
I’m a huge Pac-Man fan. It’s so unoriginal to say, but I still play it. It’s where it all started. The Beatles of videogames.