What's the point of videogames?
We pay out our money, in pretty vast sums it has to be said, to be entertained. The more we're entertained, the better the value for our money.
In this respect, Guitar Hero may be the best value for money in gaming history.
It's hard to think of a game that's so entertaining, that so immerses you in the experience, that has so much replay value. Believe me, I've tried.
Grabbing firmly onto the realisation that half the world fantasizes about being a rock star, Harmonix indulges those fantasies to the full. Guitar Hero gives us a full setlist to play through, and gives us the means to do it better than anyone ever has before.
Of course, I'm talking about the much-vaunted guitar controller. But it is impossible to overstate the impact it has on this game. You can't play at being a guitar hero unless you feel like a guitar hero, and this game delivers more feel than a Dave Gilmour solo. From the second you strap on that guitar, you're transformed, from mild-mannered bank teller, jaded office worker or embittered games journalist, into a Jack Daniels-swilling, chain smoking, axe-slinging rock god, without the unpleasant side effects. Riffs, runs and solos are soon rattled off in a flurry of flying fingers, and only the most cynical could fail to be caught up in the feeling.
This is a game that's captured the public's imagination. It's gone beyond the mere gamer, and struck a chord with a nation of frustrated air guitarists. There are thousands out there that love rock music, yet never learned to play guitar. Until now, they've been restricted to playing along to their favourites with pool cues, tennis rackets, or even, dare it be said, with their own bare hands. But witness the joy on their faces when they realise that now, they actually get to play.
I've watched a bored dad wander aimlessly around a games store whilst waiting for his kids, only to stumble across a Guitar Hero demo unit, curiously start strumming along to Boston, and then have to be dragged screaming out of the shop twenty minutes later by his soon-to-be suffering wife. I've seen a mate's non-gaming girlfriend pick this up and crease up, giggling like a schoolgirl, as she beat her bloke on Sedated. Guitar Hero just has this effect on people.
For a game that merely involves pressing the right buttons at the right times, Guitar Hero is remarkably involving, and incredibly addictive. Any tiny little things they didn't get exactly right the first time, are rectified in the sequel. And what other PS2 game has been so actively embraced by the mod community? People out there are doing extraordinary things with this game.
Any game that embodies the Original Spirit has to be great fun, terrifyingly addictive, and must grab the imagination. Guitar Hero is that game.