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Guitar Hero – Van Halen (X360)

Guitar Hero – Van Halen (X360)

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You will either already be groaning or applauding with yet another release in the popular music franchise that has been dominating the sales charts for the last year. Yes, this time Van Halen are taking center stage with Guitar Hero Van Halen, a band who rocked our world years ago.

Eddie Van Halen was one of the world’s pioneering guitar players, there is no arguing his influence and impact when his band hit the scene many decades ago. His virtuoso finger melting guitar playing combined with David Lee Roth’s over the top, flamboyant stage antics ensured a long and healthy dominance of the rock charts.

Unfortunately the game has many issues and although the 45 track list sounds massively impressive, there are almost half of them from other artists, such as Blink 182 (urgh), Weezer and Fountains of Wayne. I am all for bringing in other bands which have been influenced by the star act, but there seems to be some serious guess work by the developers in this case. I can not see anyone interested in the finger melting guitar playing on ‘Eruption’ wanting to play along with a Weezer track.

Other issues with this release include the fact that Activision have been a little sloppy in their grunt work, they failed to secure the rights to any Van Halen songs after David Lee Roth left the band, so while you are left with a solid track list, it certainly is not indicative of the career of the band as a whole. Many will argue when Sammy Hagar took over that Van Halen was no longer the driving force it was beforehand, however I think most fans would prefer to play along with Hagar/Halen tracks rather than a Jimmy Eat World song.

This game, as expected is really aimed at the Guitar Hero pros, those guys who found the recent Beatles game a borefest due to the simple chord progressions and lack of complex solo techniques. If you are a wannabe Joe Satriani on the plastic fretboard then this will be right up your alley – especially the last rack of tracks which proved to be too much for this simple reviewer. I can’t help but feel however that this is just a poor value game and could have been added to another Guitar Hero title as a downloadable option.

Sadly the problems so far are enhanced by the graphics and interpretation of the band in the game. The current aging line up are used and this even means that Eddie’s Son, Wolfgang is incorporated as the bass player. I have nothing against this really, but it seems a bizarre choice, especially after the total omission of the Hagar years. You have to fight your way through the complete Career mode before you get to see the classic Halen in the game and even when you do, they move just like the older men they are today. They look as if they don’t really want to be in the game and I can unfortunately understand why. The Metallica game was full of passion and touches, same with the Beatles game, but this one just seems to ooze a total lack of interest.

Career mode is limited because there really is no career as such to enjoy. You don’t start off with a young vibrant and creative band (which they were) and tour the pubs and clubs on the rise to legendary status, you just play through a list of songs earning stars. All those great extras for Guitar Hero 5 are not incorporated and there are no original gig environments or song challenges. What is worse is there are no behind the scenes extras either such as videos or exclusive interviews with the musicians which we enjoyed with the Metallica and Aerosmith games.  There is no support for downloadable content either other than the GH Studio tunes and there is no option to import these songs into Guitar Hero 5 either.

Interestingly gamers who bought Guitar Hero 5 shortly after its initial release had the opportunity to get the Van Halen edition for free through a promotional system. This was a great deal, especially to be able to play the classic Halen tracks we all know and love. To pay full price in a store for this however, I really find hard to recommend because there are so many elements omitted it just ends up leaving a sour taste in my mouth. I was a big Van Halen fan in my youth but this game does not do justice to such a monumental and important rock band.

What there is can be enjoyable but so much is missing I can’t score it any higher.
The band look bored and not really wanting to be involved. Very disappointing.
The Halen songs are great, but no Hagar years and a mixture of very average modern bands to fill the list.
Very poor value.
(Not an Average)


Not a very fitting tribute to a brilliant rock band.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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