Giant Bomb Review

45 Comments

Band Hero Review

3
  • X360
  • PS3

It's Guitar Hero 5 with different graphics and a more diverse setlist. If you like these 65 songs, you should probably get Band Hero.


There are no real surprises on the in-game interface.
Band Hero is a product that feels like a commodity, something assembled by a marketing team concerned only with the market demands currently not met by the existing Guitar Hero brand. But that cold, calculated feeling doesn't make it a bad game. This is the Guitar Hero 5 technology, with all of that game's strengths and weaknesses (along with a bit of new stuff), but whatever hard rock "edge" that series may have had has been smoothed over here, forming something that looks and sounds like it's three Coca-Cola cups and five Ford commercials away from being an American Idol game. The song list is more diverse than the typical Guitar Hero game, but that diversity means you'll probably enjoy a few songs here and there, but it's not going to be your favorite rhythm game ever. Also, the pop sensibility of its soundtrack makes for some awkward choices that really didn't need to appear in a full band game.

The things that work about Guitar Hero 5 still work here. The party play mode lets you jump in or drop out of songs that start playing as soon as the game finishes booting up. That concept has been expanded to a karaoke-style sing-along mode that isn't really much different from the existing party mode, but having a menu option marked "sing-along" probably helps point it out to the uninitiated crowd that will probably enjoy the game the most. It's got the same sort of difficulty options as GH5 does, and while the game's choice of music is inherently less challenging than Dragonforce, pumping the difficulty up to expert gives you something that feels accurate to the source material. You can go online to fill out your career mode band, or you can engage in some of the same competitive multiplayer modes that have been in the Guitar Hero games. You can even fire up GHTunes, the make-your-own-music mode that lets you craft your own tracks with an interface that feels just as impenetrable and sounds just as bland as it ever has.

But the feature set feels like it'll be wasted on the neophytes that are squarely in Band Hero's wheelhouse. That's not to say that rhythm game vets won't find anything on the soundtrack that they like, but by putting a virtual Taylor Swift in your game alongside tracks by Aly & AJ and the Spice Girls, I'm going to guess that there's a specific audience that'll find that stuff appealing.

Swift. 
But this isn't some sort of tween-girls-only party. There are songs from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Go-Go's, Joan Jett, Culture Club, Poison, Styx, OK Go, and Santigold. How "L.E.S. Artistes" hasn't made it into a rhythm game until now is completely confusing to me, but it's probably my favorite track in the entire game. Unless you count "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls, of course.

The catch is that there are some songs here that don't really fit into the four-piece setup of a full video game band. When you want to perform that Spice Girls song, you want to sing it. Playing the programmed drum track in something like that feels utterly pointless, and that track is better suited for a karaoke-only game. Same goes for "Kung-Fu Fighting" by Carl Douglas. Also--though I understand she's very popular with a certain segment--I'd rather take a medium-strength punch to the gut than play anything by Taylor Swift, who contributes three tracks. The couple of songs by No Doubt, however, are just fine. Swift, No Doubt, and Adam Levine of Maroon 5 show up in the polygonal flesh here, much like Johnny Cash, Shirley Manson, and Kurt Cobain did in Guitar Hero 5.

The game allows for some importing and exporting with Guitar Hero World Tour, Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, and Guitar Hero 5. They don't appear to be the full setlists from those games, but you can view each list of available tracks before you opt to go through the process to see if the songs you want to make available in Band Hero are on the list. There's also a built-in music store, and the game will read the Guitar Hero-compatible music you may have already purchased for other games.

The stages are a lot less filthy than Guitar Hero 5's. 
Band Hero's pop sensibilities make for a different-looking game than the ones that Activision usually puts out. It's got a crisp look with backdrops that fit with the subject matter... meaning you'll start out on a mall tour. Perfect. Some of the Guitar Hero characters appear here in pop-friendly form, too, so you can see Axel Steel all cleaned up and de-heshed, with short hair and a tight T-shirt... it actually makes him look like a total sell-out, which is kind of funny in its own weird way. You can also create your own guys and unlock additional gear through the career mode.

Like any other rhythm game, Band Hero is entirely dependent on your musical taste and how much you're willing to spend to acquire these 65 songs. If you don't like N.E.R.D., well hey, maybe you'll like Jesse McCartney, right? Actually, I'm totally messing with you. I'm pretty sure it's physically impossible for anyone to like Jesse McCartney. Just know that with the GH5 technology backing it up, you'll at least get a sound product on the back end. With that in mind, look at the song list, look at your wallet, and come to your own conclusion. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
45 Comments
Posted by choffy21

LEGO Rock Band is a better buy than this. At least for $60 I get a disc and can import all of the songs into Rock Band 2.

Posted by mikeeegeee

The description for this review was all the review that was necessary.

Posted by Bigandtasty

Expected. I like several songs here (mainly Mr. Roboto and Rockstar, but some of the prepackaged pop-rock too) but I'll skip this one.

Posted by Supermarius

i dunno. I think it looks cute. I like that it's GH with all the baroque metal imagery removed. Reminds me alot more of rock  band now. Honestly I think i would use band hero as a main gh game to get all the dlc for. Sure its not manly, but taylor swift looks kinda cute. I dont mind watching a cute 20 year old dance around the screen while i do my  rhythm game thing. I dont need skulls, flamethrowers, and metal spikes in my music games to enjoy them.

Edited by Meteora

This game can pretty much go and die in a hole; we don't need more rhythm games from Activision to over saturate the market.

Posted by Yummylee

When first hearing about this i thought it was supposed to be a lazy parody O.o
Posted by Light_Bahamut

Jeff, you kick ass at writing reviews. Just fyi. 

Posted by Supermarius

also, i think the lego rock band track list is a little lackluster compared to this one. Seems like bigger names and catchier tunes. If your gonna make a pop music game you might as well go all out.

Posted by Nasar7
@Meteora said:
"we don't need more rhythm games from Activision to over saturate the market. "
Too late.
Posted by Sparky_Buzzsaw

You had me at Spice Girls.
Moderator
Posted by Nettacki
@choffy21 said:
" LEGO Rock Band is a better buy than this. At least for $60 I get a disc and can import all of the songs into Rock Band 2. "
Actually, it's $50, cheaper than Band Hero even.
Posted by CharlesAlanRatliff

I already have the instruments. I think I will just GameFly all of these goddamn rhythm games and play through them.

Posted by Bigandtasty
@Nettacki said:
" @choffy21 said:
" LEGO Rock Band is a better buy than this. At least for $60 I get a disc and can import all of the songs into Rock Band 2. "
Actually, it's $50, cheaper than Band Hero even. "
Yeah but he's factoring in the $10 transfer fee. Lego RB is still a better deal if you're looking to export, since there's no guesswork about what is and isn't exportable, and that sort of thing, but yeah.
Posted by DrSwank
@Supermarius said:
" i dunno. I think it looks cute. I like that it's GH with all the baroque metal imagery removed. Reminds me alot more of rock  band now. Honestly I think i would use band hero as a main gh game to get all the dlc for. Sure its not manly, but taylor swift looks kinda cute. I dont mind watching a cute 20 year old dance around the screen while i do my  rhythm game thing. I dont need skulls, flamethrowers, and metal spikes in my music games to enjoy them. "
Yes, you're right. This game is marketed to the husbands with wives, daughters, and young sons who like pop-culture songs like Taylor Swift, which isn't bad at all. People have different music tastes, that isn't a bad thing!
Posted by bybeach

I`m not suprised it came to this. Seems like things were heading this way, anyways. The spark will be elsewhere, though i won`t appreciatte it, being too old.  
 
Back to borderlands..
 
Posted by patrick

Guitar Hero: Guilty Pleasure Music

Posted by ThatWasBrilliant

Dude you didn't mention the most important thing. Isn't there a new drum set? Is it any good?

Posted by DrRandle

Can I import Spice Girls into my Lego Rock Band? That would be perfect.

Posted by p01nt

How is the instrument?

Posted by Red12b

Oh how the mighty have fallen. 
 
RockBand, I'm in a Rockband.
Posted by MetalGearSunny

 With that in mind, look at the song list, look at your wallet, and come to your own conclusion.    

That's pretty much what you can say with all rhythm games now. I really hate a majority of songs in here, so I'm picking up LEGO Rock Band instead. Plus it has a Foo Fighters song, so you know... 
 
Good review, Jeff.
Posted by Kohe321

Good review Jeff. As expected, really.

Posted by PeasForFees

Wow I love how they made Swift look as ugly as in real life, bravo

Posted by FuzzYLemoN

Activision isn't making it easy to like Guitar Hero these days. ._.

Posted by FrenchFriedFool

Inb4 Kanye West

Posted by SteamPunkJin

Ttoo bad they threw 3 or 4 good tracks into this that won't appear elsewhere or as DLC. 'Rock Star' by N.E.R.D and 'Kung-Fu Fighting' being the highlights.
 
Also Shirley Manson gets a nod over Santana or Mat Bellamy? 

Posted by Remy

Not to get fact-check-y, but; 
 
 How "L.E.S. Artistes" hasn't made it into a rhythm game until now is completely confusing to me, but it's probably my favorite track in the entire game.     
 
L.E.S. Artistes became available on the US Singstore on or around July 24th, 2008.

Posted by yates

As expected. The name is still totally dumb to me though, what's a Band Hero? Oh hey guys, I'm a BAND HERO.

Posted by Jasonofindy

To Yates: 
I agree that as a game focused on many pop acts Band Hero makes little sense as a name and SOUNDS dumb.  However, from a MARKETING perspective "Band Hero" is actually an effective name considering the casual audience of most music games (and this one in particular).   "Guitar Hero" is an established brand that even nongamers recognize from its "Risky Business"  commercials and long term retail presence.  However, Rock Band is now gaining both market & mindshare.  Putting "Band" into the name of this "Hero"  game is a way of conflating the two and neutralizing this mindshare growth such that casuals who have played or heard of EITHER series will relate and recognize this game.  

Posted by dbz1995
@FrenchFriedFool said:
" Inb4 Kanye West "
You can never be in before Kanye West. Good review Jeff.
Posted by JJWeatherman

This game sounds awful. None of those tracks/artists are appealing.

Posted by SyntheticCFM

I like Jesse McCartney!!!
I'm going to IGN!!
 
jk

Posted by busted1der

I like new Jesse McCartney. 
 
Does that make me a bad person?

Online
Posted by iAmJohn

JEFF I'M REALLY HAPPY FOR YOU, IMMA LET YOU FINISH, BUT RYAN'S BEATLES: ROCK BAND REVIEW WAS THE BEST MUSIC GAME REVIEW OF ALL TIME.  OF ALL TIME.

Posted by Jimbo

Hello, my name is Jimbo and I'm a TaylorSwiftoholic.

Posted by Jayzilla

at least you can import the 45 songs from lego RB into your RB game. You can't do this here, and really, anyone on GB isn't going to want this. I can't believe that GB reviewed this TBH. This really isn't the audience for this game.

Posted by yacht

I'm still waiting for Kidz Bop Hero.

Posted by MrMiyagi

I love how these reviews are now to the point of "It's a rhythm game. If you like rhythm games and the songs included, maybe you should buy this."

Posted by kagekage
@busted1der said:
" I like new Jesse McCartney.   Does that make me a bad person? "
I'm pretty sure that makes you your own species.
Posted by Errordotocx

I'll stick to "Frets on Fire" on my PC.

Edited by headcase

Quality review, Jeff. 
 
I'm not getting this... and will probably only rent Lego RB (not to export it!)

Posted by KinjiroSSD

Beatles, GH5, Band Hero, Lego Rock Band, DJ Hero and GH Van Halen. Jesus, between Activision and Hamonix, they are flooding the market with plastic shit. I think they are grossly overestimating the popularity of rhythm games. The market can't support all of this.

Posted by DiGiTaL_SiN

Box Quote: "You should probably get Band Hero." - GiantBomb.com

Posted by Media_Master

Pass.

Edited by SmasheControllers

I really like it, it's a good game to play with a girlfriend.