RedOctane has announced that it plans to release a sequel to the acclaimed Guitar Hero in the USA this November, featuring as many as 40 licensed songs, as well as indie rock tracks, co-operative multiplayer and other new features.
Guitar Hero II is the second phase of the publisher's plan to expand the peripheral-based game beyond its initial offering, which launched in the UK earlier this month. Developed by Guitar Hero creators Harmonix, the game will be on display at E3 next month in some form. There's currently no word on a UK release date.
"Guitar Hero has proved phenomenally successful! Guitar Hero veterans will be able to plug in their Guitar Hero SG Controllers and rock GH II straight out of the box," said RedOctane CEO Kelly Sumner. "We will really push the envelope with Guitar Hero II. Despite the fact there are many months until release, we're already implementing exciting features and innovations. This fall we're going to rock everyone's world all over again."
Speaking to US website IGN, Guitar Hero II executive producer John Tam explained that each song would be split into a pair of audio streams - some combination of lead, rhythm and bass guitar roles - allowing players to adopt a particular part of the song during co-operative multiplayer games. This is likely to prove popular with fans of the first game, which - while critically acclaimed - was criticised in some quarters for its threadbare multiplayer component.
The decision to license 40 popular songs instead of the first game's 30 is also likely to encourage fans - and demonstrates the confidence RedOctane has in the series, which has managed to sell out its bespoke controller in the US despite its size and price tag.
In the UK, RedOctane charges GBP 49.99 for the game including one controller, and is currently offering second controllers for sale on its website at GBP 29.99.
With the game still fresh on UK store shelves, some might be surprised to see an official sequel announcement so soon, but in this case the promise of more content for the game's unique guitar controller is likely to boost sales of the first game rather than draw attention away from it, as people realise they will be able to employ the expensive peripheral in more than one game.
Indeed, RedOctane CEO Kelly Sumner has made no secret of his firm's plans to push Guitar Hero further, telling UK trade magazine MCV recently that fans can expect to see "five or six" titles by the middle of 2007, with plans afoot to branch out into specific genres including country rock and heavy metal.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz last month, Sumner explained that he plans to develop RedOctane as a specialist publisher of music titles - commenting that "publishers should be specialising and focusing on what they're good at, rather than trying to be something for everybody."