The Guitar Mania Freedom V Wireless Guitar Controller, from The Ant Commandos (aka TAC), is a nicely designed axe (controller) for use with Guitar Hero I & II. There are all sorts of little things you notice just as you take the controller out of the box. First off, the funny little bolt things that you attach the strap to are set up for either righties or lefties. Second, the "Select" button protrudes from the body while the "Start" button is recessed, another brilliant feature. Think about it. How many times have you or a friend killed a great performance by accidentally pausing the game right in the middle of a blazing solo? Not with this controller. "Start" is snugly hidden away so you won't accidentally stop the show.

Visually, the Freedom V is a really slick looking axe. The box art doesn't do the guitar justice at all. The finish is really sweet, with some sparkly, metallic stuff in it rather than just the flat plastic that a lot of other GH controllers have. The size and layout of the controller are pretty close to the controller that comes with the game and the action on the fret buttons, strum bar and whammy will all feel pretty familiar. The shape of this controller is based on the classic Gibson "Flying V" as opposed to the Gibson SG shape of the original Guitar Hero controller. The metallic finish on the strum bar and whammy also serve to give the axe a really sharp edge. Finally, the decals that come with this controller are far cooler than the ones that ship with the Guitar Hero games. Still, you may find yourself torn between slapping them on your axe or just leaving it clean due to the nice finish. I'll probably end up putting the stickers on my car.

In terms of performance, the Freedom V plays well. I didn't have any trouble with hammer-ons or pull-offs at all (beyond my own lack of skill of course). The wireless adapter works great as I was able to make full use of the living room with no loss of signal. There is one problem with the Freedom V that I personally put in the cardinal sin category though. It is a pain to get it to "rock out" when you have the star power ready to go. I had the guitar as upright as it could go and nothing happened. After a lot of violent shaking it finally did trigger but I had already tanked half the solo and wasn't really feeling like much of a rock star at that point.

All-in-all, I still like and plan to use the Freedom V in spite of basically resigning myself to using the "Select" button to fire off the old star power. It is a really nice controller and is perfect for when you want to just jam out with a buddy in co-op mode. But you'll likely want to switch back to the original controller for those songs in which you really need seamless star power to succeed. Basically, if you're just out there on stage to have fun, this axe will get you through and you'll look great in the process.