Hey, don’t walk, “jump” and buy Guitar Hero: Van Halen!‚ Ha ha ha!‚ Man, I’m so witty “" Around the Blast offices, if we had such a thing that I hung around, they would say I’m the funniest guy in there.‚ Wooooo!
Anyway, don’t let my horribly corny jokes dissuade you from checking out Van Halen’s edition of Guitar Hero.‚ It offers much more depth than you’d expect from an installment of Guitar Hero that is more of a side project, and it totally shames the Rock Band offering of The Beatles, at least in this humble reviewer’s opinion.‚ While it clearly isn’t as polished or as much of a value as Guitar Hero 5, if you love Van Halen or need more Guitar Hero fun, it is a clear “must buy” for you.
Developer: Underground Development
Dec. 22, 2009
As you can imagine from the premise of the title, Guitar Hero: Van Halen focuses primarily on the band.‚ Almost every significant single is included, from the pure arena rock nature of “Jump” to the… uh, other arena rock songs, like “Hot For Teacher” and “Jamie’s Crying.”‚ Happily though, some deeper tracks are included, such as the ultimate shredding song, “Eruption” which is as ridiculously difficult as you would expect.
A note right up front about the song selection “" The game only features songs and avatars of the current‚ lineup of Van Halen.‚ Given the band’s notoriously challenged relationship with past contributors, this probably isn’t shocking to most of you reading that actually enjoy Van Halen.‚ Almost every David Lee Roth song of significance is included in the 25 Van Halen tracks, and the avatars are of Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen and Wolfgang Van Halen.
When it comes to the other 19 tracks, they were picked out by the 18-year-old Wolfgang, the son of Eddie, and it shows.‚ Weezer, Foo Fighters, Blink-182, Jimmy Eat World and Fountains of Wayne are artists you would normally associate more with modern rock, but I’d argue that they have more in common with Van Halen than, say, Twisted Sister, or some other hair band from Van Halen’s era.‚ Case in point “" While era contemporary The Clash have a song on the game, “Safe European Home” is more gritty punk than the refined, arena rock sound of Van Halen.
The difficulty of Guitar Hero: Van Halen is definitely a tick up from the most recent rhythm game releases, Guitar Hero 5 and Rock Band: The Beatles.‚ Then again, that is probably to be expected with the tracks featured.‚ The guitar and bass portions feature lots and lots of notes, especially if you’re trying to segue from The Beatles, who feature fairly simple transitions and chords.
However, while the game is incredible at its core goal “" Roth-era Van Halen excellence “" it doesn’t incorporate some of the features from Guitar Hero 5.‚ I suspect that development on this game began far before the completion of Guitar Hero 5, which might explain why some of the new tweaks weren’t incorporated.‚ (It might also explain why there is a Foo Fighters song present, even though Dave Grohl got pissed that his former band mate was a playable character in Guitar Hero 5.)‚ For example, there is no drop-in play, and while you can chose or create an avatar to play as, you can’t swap out other members of the band.‚ On the plus side, the crowd sings along during certain choruses.
One other sticking point is the price – $50 for the Wii edition.‚ Eech.‚ For practically the same amount, Guitar Hero 5 is a much better bargain, since it provides almost double the amount of songs: 85 to 45.‚ Although Guitar Hero: Van Halen was a throw-in for purchasing Guitar Hero 5 early and features half the songs, this is not reflected in the price at all.
Blast Factor: Your enjoyment of this game though, as with any of these band-specific rhythm games, hinges on your enjoyment of the track list.‚ I love Van Halen, so I loved this game.‚ If you love Van Halen, the higher price tag will probably not dissuade.‚ In addition, if you love modern rock and alternative, this is definitely the best track list next to Guitar Hero: Modern Hits for the Nintendo DS.
Guitar Hero: Van Halen is available on the Wii, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 systems, at a cost of $49.99 and $59.99 respectively. This review concerns the Wii version. A copy of this game was redeemed via the Guitar Hero 5 offer for review purposes; the official retail version is not available until December 22.