I finally did it: I completed Guitar Hero 2 on hard mode. "Carry Me Home" was the final stumbling block. I'm not entirely sure how I made it through, in fact. I'd never even made it past the intro riffage before. It's not a good song.
I know this isn't terribly impressive to at least two of my expert-level readers, but I'm pretty proud for a couple reasons. One is that I had never played beyond medium difficulty at all until shortly after I picked up the 360 version, so playing that fifth fret button was all new to me. Second is that I don't typically stick with things that don't come easily, so taking this kind of time to accomplish something is uncharacteristic.
More important, I think it speaks to Guitar Hero's quality that I have continually found time for it over the course of five months. Sometimes it's frustrating that I have to drop a game I enjoy in order to move on to the next one. As great as, say, Rainbow Six: Vegas was, once I no longer had an obligation to play it, I stopped. (Had to make time for Tomb Raider Anniversary, you know.) Since I picked up Guitar Hero 2 in early April, I've reviewed well over a dozen other games, including three that I've given equal or greater scores to. And yet I keep coming back to it in a way that I won't to The Darkness or even BioShock.
Mostly, that's because those more complex single-player games will require an extraordinary amount of effort and dedication every time I sit down with them. It would be hard to revisit them for less than an hour and feel like I'd gotten the full experience. They require a commitment that Guitar Hero doesn't, and as a result I've paradoxically been able to commit to Guitar Hero as I have to few other games. If I were trapped on a desert island, I'd want those immersive, narrative games to pass the time. In the life I live now -- the one that juggles a day job, a family, and friends -- I'll take Guitar Hero.