A benevolent benefactor bequeathed to me a fantastic gift; the official Guitar Hero Wireless Controller. Now I come to report on it.
Its been a long time coming. There have been several unofficial wireless controllers on the market since the release of GH1, and people have found ways to modify their wired controllers, but it took until after the arrival of GH2 for Red Octane to launch their own wireless attempt. This is crucial because while third party wireless devices are still hit or miss with their responsiveness, official wireless stuff has proven to be quite reliable across all consoles. Second, most DDR players will tell you that Red Octane builds some quality stuff for the price, while their knockoffs usually suffer.
Both points prove to be true in the case of Guitar Hero controllers. I spent some time in the fall with the Flying V I previously linked to, and I wasn’t impressed. It uses that stupid chrome paint that usually gets nasty and discolored after a lot of wear and tear, it felt way too light, and the buttons felt like mush when you pressed them. I also had issues with its responsiveness, as I was missing notes on easy songs that I never flub. There are other annoyances; I’ve heard reports of third party guitars having to be re-released for compatibility with GH2 (thus screwing early adopters and confusing customers). Some don’t have a good tilt sensor for Star Power activation, so that you have to either shake the controller and hope it works, or press select, which isn’t fun at all.
But as expected Red Octane comes through. The official wireless guitar works flawlessly and feels just like its cousins. For some reason the buttons still don’t have the same crisp click as the wired SG controllers do, but its not nearly as bad as what I experienced on the Flying V. I also like the look; its a bit different from the SG, with some angles and curves, and the white paint job is just classy. The only thing I haven’t been able to test with it is the battery life. If its anything like the Wavebird, it shouldn’t pose a problem at all. If its like the Wii on the other hand, I’ll be very upset.
Bottom line, if you’re looking to enjoy some wireless Guitar Hero on the PS2, you’ve got two options. Either make one yourself with parts from a good wireless controller (I absolutely love a good DIY job, especially from what I’ve seen in the GH community), or hunt down this official guitar. Unlike some of Red Octane’s other peripherals, its about the same price as the knockoffs, and is far and away the best of the bunch. My only concern is availability, as I’ve heard this sucker is hard to find. I hope that doesn’t remain the case for long, since they could make a killing on these babies.