Activision is exploding this holiday season with a full line-up of music games across all gaming platforms. The first new offering was six months ago with "Guitar Hero: Smash Hits", a classic reworking of favourites from the series, updated to work with all the instruments. Two months ago they retruned with the next evolution in the Guitar Hero series with "Guitar Hero 5". Last week, the amped up "DJ Hero" was released, and now in the beginning of November we have "Band Hero". What is Band Hero besides the name Guitar Hero should have gone with when it started to incorporate the full band mechanics? Well, its another music game built off the foundation of Guitar Hero 5 with a focus on mainstream POP artists. Phew, Activision doesn't waste anytime, so either are we... it's time to strike up the band.
The question you need to ask yourself before you even consider purchasing another music game is how much do you love Guitar Hero, are you sick of your old games, and do you feel like hitting the road once again in another Guitar Hero/music game experience? Band Hero is pretty much Guitar Hero with a focus on pop music instead of the vast pounding, aggressive nature of Guitar Hero's rock n’ roll/alternative track listing. Now that is not to say that Band Hero doesn’t rock, because it does, it’s just a little bit different. The best thing about Band Hero is that it includes all the changes from Guitar Hero 5... and for the record, Guitar Hero 5 rocked our socks off scoring a high rating of 9.5/10 on Extreme Gamer (shameless self-promotion plug & review link).
For gamers who haven’t upgraded from "World Tour", you now have two choices for your full-band rock sessions, either Guitar Hero 5, or Activision’s latest Band Hero. The advice I would have to give you when choosing between both versions is to check out the set list. Guitar Hero 5 has more of the same musical taste as the previous Guitar Hero games with a few exceptions. Guitar Hero 5 also has 20 more songs than Band Hero which might help sway your vote. Band Hero on the other hand has more songs featuring female vocalists which breaks into the money making market of POP music.
This means you will be able to sing along with such POP divas like Hilary Duff, Lily Allen, Spice Girls, Taylor Swift, and Duffy... or male acts that fall into this category like the Village People, Counting Crows, Tonic, Duran Duran and Hinder. Band Hero doesn’t ease off the rock, or simply stick to pop as it flies all over the map. You will still see some hard rock numbers like Canada own-- Finger Eleven, or Papa Roach, and even some alternative beats like “Rockstar” from N.E.R.D, and even a few classics like “Honky Tonk Woman” – The Rolling Stones, or “American Pie” – Don McLean. In total you have 65 songs, and might not be exactly what the cover art proclaims “65 Songs from the Biggest Pop Artists”, but it is 65 songs from successful mainstream artists.
Here's a look at Band Hero's set list:
- 3 Doors Down - "When I'm Gone"
- The Airborne Toxic Event - "Gasoline"
- The All American Rejects - "Dirty Little Secret"
- Alphabeat - "Fascination"
- Aly and AJ - "Like Whoa"
- Angels & Airwaves - "The Adventure"
- Ben Harper - "Steal My Kisses"
- Big Country - "In a Big Country"
- The Bravery - "Believe"
- Carl Douglas - "Kung Fu Fighting"
- Cheap Trick - "I Want You To Want Me (live)"
- Cold War Kids - "Hang Me Up To Dry"
- Corinne Bailey Rae - "Put Your Records On"
- Counting Crows - "Angels of the Silences"
- Culture Club - "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me"
- Dashboard Confessional - "Hands Down"
- David Bowie - "Let's Dance"
- Devo - "Whip It"
- Don McLean - "American Pie"
- Duffy - "Warwick Avenue"
- Duran Duran - "Rio"
- Evanescence - "Bring Me To Life"
- Everclear - "Santa Monica (Watch The World Die)"
- Fall Out Boy - "Sugar, We're Goin' Down"
- Filter - "Take A Picture"
- Finger Eleven - "Paralyzer"
- The Go-Go's - "Our Lips Are Sealed"
- Hilary Duff - "So Yesterday"
- Hinder - "Lips Of An Angel"
- Jackson 5 - "ABC"
- Janet Jackson - "Black Cat"
- Jesse McCartney - "Beautiful Soul"
- Joan Jett - "Bad Reputation"
- Joss Stone - "You Had Me"
- Katrina & The Waves - "Walking On Sunshine"
- The Kooks - "Naive"
- KT Tunstall - "Black Horse and the Cherry Tree"
- The Last Goodnight - "Pictures Of You"
- Lily Allen - "Take What You Take"
- Maroon 5 - "She Will Be Loved"
- Marvin Gaye - "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"
- Mighty Mighty Bosstones - "The Impression That I Get"
- Nelly Furtado - "Turn Off The Light"
- N.E.R.D. - "Rockstar"
- No Doubt - "Just A Girl"
- No Doubt - "Don't Speak"
- OK Go - "A Million Ways"
- Papa Roach - "Lifeline"
- Parachute - "Back Again"
- Pat Benatar - "Love Is A Battlefield"
- Poison - "Every Rose Has Its Thorn"
- Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue - "Kids"
- The Rolling Stones - "Honky Tonk Women"
- Roy Orbison - "Oh Pretty Woman"
- Santigold - "L.E.S. Artistes"
- Snow Patrol - "Take Back the City"
- Spice Girls - "Wannabe"
- Styx - "Mr. Roboto"
- Taylor Swift - "Love Story"
- Taylor Swift - "Picture To Burn"
- Taylor Swift - "You Belong With Me"
- Tonic - "If You Could Only See"
- The Turtles - "Happy Together"
- Village People - "YMCA"
- Yellowcard - "Ocean Avenue"
If that selection of music really wets your whistle then you should be happy to hear that a few artists have donned the mo-cap suit to capture their likeness in the game. Taylor Swift is Band Hero's big name and the cover-person they have been using for its commercial spots. Along with the country music, cross-over diva, Adam Levine (Singer of Maroon 5) comes in for the ladies, while No Doubt! rocks out in their new white digs. Yes, that means sweet Gwen Stefani action! oh and those other guys in the band. Each artists looks good as their re-imagined selves in Band Hero, and even though No Doubt might not want you playing them in other songs (court case pending), its fun to put Gwen on the Bass with Taylor Swift on the drums. Why not, they are only avatars. Like Guitar Hero 5 the graphics engine has been given a boost which means these stars likeness is even more real. Thankfully, Band Hero doesn’t abandon its comic book styled charm either, if anything it's been bedazzled up.
Aside from the musical selection you have a solid structure to draw from with all the functionality of Guitar Hero 5. Switching up members, activating band moments, online play, and the GH Studio--- it’s all in here, and it all rocks. The best addition that seems to fit in Band Hero a little better is the specific instrument challenges. Awards like singing a Hilary Duff song or playing the bass line to Ben Harpers “Steel My Kisses” make more sense then playing rewarding the guitar, and every song has a bonus challenge that unlocks new features. Usually this is a new character, instruments, outfits and so on.... and just because Band Hero is filled full of mainstream artist doesn't mean its not challenging. Like all the previous Guitar Hero games certain songs on each instrument can give you a run for your money. Band Hero will be able to please all levels of gamers, from the beginner rocker, to the experienced shredder.
So Happy Together
Nintendo rockers, Vicarious Visions has something special for the ones who want to rock out on their Wii, and DS. By hooking up the Wii, and Nintendo DS versions of Band Hero via Wi-Fi you will unlock the Fan Request feature that activates in the Wii's Career Mode. Fan Requests play out on the DS similiar to the way to play Guitar Hero: On Tour, except Band Hero for the Nintendo DS now supports all the instruments (even drums!). Successfully finishing a Fan Request will unlock new content in the Wii edition of Band Hero. The new Fan Request feature along with Guitar Hero 5's "Roadie Battle" mode gives you a little more incentive to play both Nintendo versions of Band Hero. If you like the series on both platforms, then by all means- enjoy this little extra included in the game.
Band Hero is simply Guitar Hero 5 repackaged, and this is fine, but gamers should be aware of this before they think Activision has brought something new to the genre. Activision’s innovation this year is DJ Hero, besides that you’re getting into the same old bit that has been selling out in stores for years. It's not fair to discriminate Band Hero because it's built off of Guitar Hero 5, or because of its "POP" set list. Band Hero is just as good as Guitar Hero 5, and depending on your choice in music, Band Hero might even seem a little better. Before picking up a Guitar/Band Hero game this holiday season you should look over each set list before you decide which game is for you. However you choose, you can't go wrong.
Gameplay:9.5, Graphics:9.0, Sound:10, Innovation:7.0, Mojo:9.5 Final: 9.0 / 10
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 11.06.09