Nov 27, 2012Guitar Hero is fun. Van Halen is fun. Eddie Van Halen's playing is very fun in Guitar Hero. What could go wrong? Play this game and you'll find out!
For starters, this game is STILL running off World Tour's okay-ish engine. Seeing as Guitar Hero 5 was in development at the same time, there are some serious improvements they could have made to the engine. The graphics, crowd, and stage animations are only marginally better than those in World Tour or Smash Hits, with the same career mode that can be breezed through in little more than an hour. The game looks really ugly, especially when compared to Guitar Hero 5.
But nobody plays Guitar Hero for its graphics, especially on the Wii. They play it because it's fun! And a lot of the songs in the game are incredibly fun on guitar... of course, it's Eddie Freaking Van Halen! There's a good mix of tapping, hopos, and lightning-quick fret changing. If you're a guitarist, there's a lot of fun to be had here, but there's also a high bar of entry, especially if you play exclusively on expert.
Unfortunately, the drum or bass career isn't as notable. Not that it's bad... there's just very few standout tracks. Expert+ returns for drums adding double-kick features, as well as the open note for bass. But really, there's nothing fundamentally different here you couldn't find in any other Rock Band or post-World Tour Guitar Hero game. Playing the drums and bass are as fun as they always are... no more and no less.
The vocals are still using the icky, ICKY engine from World Tour, with no improvements. Your meter still jumps all over the place, you're still forced to sound like a robot to get a good score, and you still have no way of knowing how well you've done until the end of the phrase when you either keep combo or don't. They've managed to make David Lee Roth's vocals unfun.
But, I mean, it's still Van Halen, right? Surely there's a game filled with classic poppy-hard rock-heavy metal hits, right? Well, yes and no. The 25 Van Halen tracks are all great fun, and just like Aerosmith and Metallica, the band was asked to include their favorite "guest acts" to help fill out the rest of the setlist. While Aerosmith had a solid blues-rock setlist and Metallica an excellent thrash/hard rock setlist, Van Halen is a total mess. What on earth are Killswitch Engage, Blink-182, or Third Eye Blind doing in this game? Most of the song choices were left to Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie's then-17-year-old son. The gesture was appreciated, but it really wasn't the best idea to give control of the setlist to somebody who wasn't even alive during VH's heyday.
Speaking of the band's members, Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony are never even mentioned in this game. Not once. Not unlockable characters, not even any references in the song's notes. They just don't exist according to this game and never did. And this means that, of course, there is no Sammy Hagar-era material in the game. That's half what we could have gotten.
To cap it all off, this game does not support DLC or export in any way, shape, or fashion. None. Nope. Nada. Even Smash Hits had half its setlist export. The tracks you get on the disc are trapped there forever. You'll never get to play any of the songs here on GH:5 or GH:WoR. You'll never be able to break any of the songs free from their sucky on-disc prison.
Guitar Hero Van Halen can still be a worthwhile buy if it's cheap enough; it IS Van Halen after all. But I would definitely think twice if you're being charged more than $10. But this should NOT be your first music game; play some better ones first. Once you've gotten good enough at the genre and you're confident you can look past the shortcomings for the chance to shred like Eddie, then perhaps you should give this a shot. Everybody else, stay FAR away.… Expand