Published on January 12th, 2010 | by prime0
Band Hero – Review
Summary: The pop songs may be good to listen to but actually playing them can often be dull as dishwater, with repetitive riffs and undemanding note tracks
It’s for mums, isn’t it? Just look at that glitzy menu, those pink sparkles, that masculinity-devoid set list. It’s simply Guitar Hero done for a different audience and, unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work.
And there’s a very good reason for that. When sitting in front of our television holding a plastic guitar, the last thing we expect to be doing is playing the piano backing track to Spice Girls’ Wannabe. Yet that’s exactly what Brand Hero requires you to do. Crazy, no?
Of course, wanting to take Guitar Hero is a slightly different direction to reach out to new audiences isn’t necessarily a bad thing in itself, but merely expecting it to work with a bunch of different songs – heck, not even that, an entirely different style of music without even a hint of modification – is. It’s telling that, when you do actually play more typical Hero tunes – the Roy Orbisons, Yellowcards, Kooks and Rolling Stones of the world – and ignore the ridiculousness of fluff like Aly & AJ and Lily Allen, Band Hero comes into its own.
You must understand that this isn’t just us having a pop at the pop, but that, as it stands, the Guitar Hero formula just isn’t set up to cope with all walks of music. And that fact is highlighted not only by the instrumental failures, but in other area too. One of the game’s biggest problems with the jump into the casual music market is the relatively basic and unsophisticated ‘catchy’ beats offered up by each of the tunes. They may be good to listen to but actually playing them can often be as dull as dishwater, with repetitive riffs and undemanding note tracks running riot throughout the entire career.
You’re able to create your own character and unlock new items as you progress
A prime example of this is Jackson’s 5 ABC. You couldn’t possibly deny it of its classic status, but playing it on guitar – and on Hard, nonetheless – is largely a dull, constant exchange between the green and yellow buttons. Not quite the experience we were looking for from the Hero franchise.
That sense of atmosphere, too, another thing that Guitar Hero 5 captured so well, is completely lost here. Venues are uninspired, the visual don’t seem quite as good and the sense of satisfaction earned by completing YMCA on Expert is well, nonexistent. Where’s the stage noise, the pyro, the fireworks, the general vivacity and excitement? It’s certainly not here. Everything just feels so frustratingly low-cost and rushed to market, and there’s nothing in Band Hero that even attempts to shroud the fact that it’s a cash-in product.
Perhaps we’re coming across as being overly cynical. The tried and tested Guitar Hero mechanics still keep it ticking over nicely and, when it works, it completely blows rivals like Rock Revolution out of the water. The excellent Party Play mode introduced in Guitar Hero 5 is present here too, allowing up to four players the chance to seamlessly jump in and out of the game as and when they fancy it. The competitive multiplayer, too – another thing lifted wholly from GH5 – offers a further layer of fun, but be warned: we couldn’t find a single player to play against online, something we imagine has something to do with the ‘internet-cautious’ family audience.
Band Hero is the Jedward to Guitar Hero 5’s Lucie Jones. It’s the poor, inconsistent, laughing stock of the industry, the videogame world’s very own Now That’s What I Call Music world that schizophrenically jumps from genre to genre, shamelessly pandering to pop culture without barely a thought. You could always argue that SingStar does a similar thing, but SingStar doesn’t have you using a guitar to play the piano or a violin. On the other hand, Band Hero offers an entertainment value that’s flashed with moments of fun. Where else can you climb on stage with Taylor Swift, pretend that you’re part of the Spice Girls or strum along to Hilary Duff? Nowhere. But more importantly, is that what you want? What you really, really want?