Band Hero (Available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii)
ESRB Rating: E10+
Number of Players: 1 to 8
Release Date: November 3rd, 2009
Xbox Live/PSN – Multiplayer/DLC
Only two months ago, Activision released the much-anticipated Guitar Hero 5. Not only was it a blast, but it featured some great additions, such as the wicked Party Play mode. Two months later, the company has put out another music-rhythm game. You’d also think that this new game would be a distinct separation from its older brother right? Wrong. The only difference between Band Hero and Guitar Hero 5 is the 65 songs featured on the disc. You still play as the lead guitar player, singer, bass and drums, etc. The core gameplay is identical. You can still play by yourself, with a group of buddies, head online and take on the world, create your own songs, etc. The same color notes slowly scroll towards the active field, where you have to respond at just the right time. Band Hero is everything you’ve come to expect from Guitar Hero 5.
Then what’s the point you ask? Well, it’s all about the songs. Activision created Guitar Hero for the tweens in your house. This is the most innocent music game in existence. Tons of classic and new pop songs have been mapped to Guitar Hero’s interface, and the result is Band Hero. Now don’t scoff. There are countless millions in love with this music; I’m just not one of them. Your enjoyment of BH depends on whether or not you enjoy today’s pop music. Do you cringe when you hear Spice Girls’ classic Wannabe, or Beautiful Song from Jesse McCartney? If yes, then buy Guitar Hero: Metallica. Now there are some pop songs that I’m into, such as Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield, but for every one of those songs, there are another ten that I don’t care for.
Outside of the song list, Band Hero has a lot to offer. Every song has different challenges, some requiring you to play with a certain instrument; others reward you for hitting certain notes in succession, etc. This is fine, but also repetitive for anyone that’s played GH5. The career mode especially disappoints because we’ve seen it before. It’s generic and feels stripped down to other games out there. You select a venue, perform well enough to unlock new ones and continue. The feeling of making it big just isn’t here. Some enjoy the easy to get into execution, but I’ve always preferred more substance. The bottom line is that this new game isn’t a game at all, but rather a 65 song track pack. Trying to pawn this off as a brand-new franchise isn’t right. It’s just a re-skinned GH5.
The good news is that the 65 only cost $59.99, which is cheaper than buying each song online. That said, GH5 was the same price and featured 85 songs. I think a total lack of effort brings Band Hero down. There are so many Guitar Hero games out there. If Activision really wanted to introduce a new franchise, they wouldn’t rehash gameplay, instruments and more. There’s another problem: censored songs. I completely understand that Activision is marketing this to a younger demographic. But if a song is about sex, don’t edit out portions; just don’t add it to the playlist. I noticed some bizarre omissions too; segments that weren’t even related to sex, drugs, etc. The general gist of a song is fairly obvious, even with the removal of one or two lines.
This review has made Band Hero out to be a pile of garbage, but that’s not what I’m trying to convey. What Activision did was cop-out. They should have tried to make this a more original IP than a purely obvious GH clone. I do commend them on catering to a different audience. That’s extremely important, and Band Hero is a really great game on its own. If you’ve never played Guitar Hero 5, then you’d love this. It offers hours of fun and a great selection for those interested in the music genre. If you have played GH5, there’s still a lot of fun to be had, but make sure you only buy the disc and not the full bundle. There’s no logic in owning two sets of the same instruments.
Presentation-wise, Band Hero looks great, just as GH5 does. I’ve said this already, but it’s really just a re-skinned GH5. The animations are as impressive as ever, and I didn’t notice any glitches or what have you. It looks about as good as GH5 did two months ago. As for the audio, everything sounds great. Whether you pick this up comes down to personal preference. Fans of pop should be all over this. Though there is the question with the censorship. These songs play on the radio where everyone can hear them, so why censor them for a game? It’s a bit perplexing.
Band Hero is fun, and worth the price of admission for anyone that’s into the music and doesn’t already own Guitar Hero 5. To those that do, the disc is worthwhile so long as you enjoy the tunes. I want this to be extremely clear. As long as you know what you’re getting into prior to a decision, Band Hero can be an entertaining romp, or not worth your time and money.
Overall (Not an Average): 7.8/10