Since launching almost five years ago, Guitar Hero has spawned numerous sequels, even spanning over to portable systems like the DS, mobile phones, and iPhone. Guitar Hero’s rival, Rock Band, sometimes one upped Guitar Hero by introducing the entire band into living rooms as opposed to solo guitar outings. Band Hero, dropping the “Guitar” word from the name, is the most streamlined and easy to use music game to date, but how well does it separate itself from the crowd?
The obvious highlight of this game is the band element. At just about any point in the game, anyone can drop in or out of gameplay. Making matters more user friendly is the ability to play any combination of instruments. What to jam out with four drummers? Well now you can. Want to compete over your friend’s voices? Then sing a song with four vocalists. Players can even adjust the difficulty at any point while playing too.
Even though gameplay and the menu system is very intuitive, Guitar Hero 5 also featured this streamlined game structure. So what makes Band Hero different from GH5? For the most part, the soundtrack. Instead of having the Teen rating, Band Hero sports the friendlier E10+ ESRB label. If you are looking for heavier rock songs, you would be much better off looking at Guitar Hero: Metallica or GH3. Taylor Swift and Maroon 5 are the poster bands for Band Hero so the tracklist is based around this poppier-rock.
Like other Guitar Heroes, the main career mode will have the player going through the usual rags-to-riches story, playing small venues at first then working your way up the billboard charts. With 65 tracks on the disc, Band Hero definitely pales in comparison to other music games on the market. As you progress through the game, each the of the 65 tracks will become unlocked which is somewhat restrictive instead of having access to everything upon first booting up the game. However, each song’s specific challenges will provide some additional content and new motivation to complete each song. New songs can be downloaded from the GHTunes and the GH5 songs can be imported into Band Hero for a small fee.
Besides having a setlist that is too upbeat and poppy for my personal tastes, there are some other minor setbacks with Band Hero. Like GH5, the star power meter can be little difficult to see from the corner of the screen, especially when it can be difficult to judge when the meter is completely full versus only 75% full. Even after tinkering with the calibration settings, the words that scroll from right to left when singing vocals is extremely blurry. It is like looking at an eye chart with glasses that are not the right prescription. In fact, it is so blurry that reading the text, especially on faster paced songs, is almost impossible. Using a brand new HDTV with an HDMI cable, blurry text is a result of the game, not the TV.
With its pop rock music track, Band Hero is definitely a great party game or something that parents can participate in with their younger kids. Designed from the ground up to be as user friendly as possible, Band Hero’s streamlined menu structure and forgiving gameplay should have been the staple of user interface design since the first Guitar Hero back on PS2. Band Hero definitely will bring the “band” back to together, but it ultimately it can still be considered a clone of GH5 only with a more kid friendly soundtrack. But only with minor gameplay complaints, Band Hero could be the best option for beginning modern day music game players or parents looking to start a family band.
Not As Good As: a Taylor Swift FPS
Better Than: hauling real band equipment around
Also Try: Rock Band 2
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