A game that needs no introduction
Do: Play as the legendary band Van Halen
Type: Music Rhythm
Platforms: Playstation 2, Playstation 3, XBox 360 (Reviewed), Wii
Price: $59.99 PS3 and XBox 360, $49.99 PS2 and Wii
Meat: Not unlike Guitar Hero: Metallica, this is yet another band specific Guitar Hero release but with the ability to play all the instruments. Although after Guitar Hero: Aerosmith I said I would stay away from band specific games I am a huge Van Halen fan and I actually didn’t pay for this game. As part of ordering Guitar Hero 5 I received this free.
For anyone familiar with the Guitar Hero formula they should be instantly familiar with the game, though in many ways this game is a throwback and feels wrong after playing Guitar Hero 5. Despite some of the improvements made in Guitar Hero 5, which were carried over into Band Hero, Van Halen is clearly using a system more akin to the earlier Guitar Hero: World Tour. This just seems odd given its release date and the improvements made to Band Hero which was also released after Guitar Hero 5.
Also disconcerting is the total lack of reference to former band members Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, or any songs that were sung by Sammy Hagar for that matter. C’mon guys! I know that David Lee Roth’s huge ego doesn’t like to acknowledge the band was actually successful while he was gone, but “Why Can’t This Be Love?” is a Van Halen classic! 5150 was a great album and it’s total exclusion is glaring to any Van Halen fan.
In fact, that seems to be the biggest problem with the game. It seems to be focused around the egos of Eddie Van Halen and David Lee Roth without any concern over fan expectations. It’s like every distasteful thing fans have put up with who loved their music but presented in videogame form.
Perks: Overall it’s a great selection of music that covers some of the classic Van Halen hits. Without a doubt the opening song should be and is “Panama” which will thrill most fans and is the perfect introduction to Van Halen’s musical style for those that didn’t grow up with their music.
For a band that has often focused on how great a guitarist Eddie Van Halen is, the other instruments are not ignored. There are challenging drum sections, vocals, and bass chords throughout different songs. The game is very guitar focused, but that should be expected given the source material.
Screams: At this point though I am tired of the idea that the other songs have anything to do with Van Halen. After Beatles: Rock Band I think its safe to say that either a band is strong enough to represent themselves based on their own music catalog or not.
Here’s another big problem with the game. Despite the fact that Guitar Hero and Rock Band have both moved away from doing cover versions and moved on to master tracks, some of Van Halen’s songs are covers themselves. “You Really Got Me” and “Pretty Woman”, both made famous by their original artists, are presented as Van Halen’s work. Considering the nature of these games, these seem like odd additions.
Overall, the game really was released too late. Some of the better known Van Halen songs should have been released sooner when Guitar Hero was only about guitar and bass and simply included with earlier releases. Part of the problem with Guitar Hero: Van Halen, is that they may not be strong enough to carry their own game. Maybe they are, but they would have to be willing to use the whole of their music catalog instead of pretending certain events didn’t happen.
Verdict: PASS – There is not enough of a game here to justify a purchase and I wouldn’t even bother renting. Many of the stronger non Van Halen songs are available as downloads in Rock Band already. This should not have been a full game.