Band Hero - PS3 Review
It's amazing to think that it was only four years ago when Guitar Hero was unleashed upon the world, and only three and half years since the game launched in Australia. On the back of that franchise with over 25 million sales, and Call of Duty as well, Activision has gone from a moderate sized games company, to one of the biggest in the world. Whereas Guitar Hero focuses on rock music, the company is about to branch out with Band Hero to cover more popular, family friendly, music.
|Band Hero is visually on par with Guitar Hero.|
Gameplay in Band Hero should be very familiar to those who have played Guitar Hero: World Tour or Guitar Hero 5 in recent years with the usual Quickplay, Party Play, Sing-A-Long and Competitive modes (the latter of which includes Pro Face-Off, Momentum, Streakers, Do Or Die, Elimination, Perfectionist, and Rockfest options). A Training mode is also included to get you up to speed if your new to the series while a Rock Star Creator sees you creating your rock star's avatar.
Band Hero allows you to use any combination of guitars, drums or microphones. For those unaware the gameplay is pretty simple as you simply have to hit the notes in time with those sliding down the screen to the point at the bottom where you have to 'hit' the note (if you're singing you have to sing at the right pitch). The better you play, the better the song will sound and you earn star power which can then be triggered to start score multipliers - essential to obtain some mega scores. If you suck then it will be game over to the boos of the crowd and you'll be restarting the song from the beginning.
As with Guitar Hero 5 it is possible to play this game with the traditional range of instruments (two guitars, drum kit and microphone) or with any combination of instruments - 4 drum kits, 3 guitars and microphone, 2 guitars and 2 drum kits, and so on. Obviously you'll need multiple instruments - and a big room if you have four people using drum kits - but it means everyone can play whatever instruments you wish. Again, to keep the focus on bands the developers have included 'Band Moments' which show when the entire band are performing well, and should a player drop out due to a poor performance the remaining band members will have to work together to revive that player.
|Using the microphone in Activision's Band Hero.|
Challenges have also made a return in this game. These challenges see you needing to complete various sections of songs with a certain instrument, or the entire band and have been specifically picked due to the features of the song. If there's a particularly hard vocal section, then there will likely be a singing challenge, if there's a guitar solo, then that will likely be the challenge. Depending on how you perform in these moments will determine if you are awarded a level - Gold, Platinum, or Diamond with the latter being the hardest to achieve. Successful completion of these challenges will unlock more content to customise the in-game characters.
Of course any music game lives or dies by the soundtrack and this game includes some 65 tracks to keep you playing which isn't as extensive as the 85 songs in Guitar Hero 5, but surpasses the pretty paltry 45 songs in Lego Rock Band. Of course you can also download additional tracks from the Playstation Store (there are currently 188 tracks on the Australian store) for use in the game for a few $3.45 each, and it's also possible to import 69 of the 85 songs from Guitar Hero 5 into this game. Anyway here's the full track list from this disc...
|Taylor Swift appears in Band Hero.|
"A Million Ways" OK Go
"ABC" The Jackson 5
"American Pie" Don McLean
"Angels of the Silences" Counting Crows
"Bad Reputation" Joan Jett
"Back Again" Parachute
"Beautiful Soul" Jesse McCartney
"Believe" The Bravery
"Black Cat" Janet Jackson
"Black Horse and the Cherry Tree" KT Tunstall
"Bring Me to Life" Evanescence
"Dirty Little Secret" The All-American Rejects
"Do You Really Want To Hurt Me" Culture Club
"Don't Speak" No Doubt
"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" Poison
"Gasoline" The Airborne Toxic Event
"Hands Down" Dashboard Confessional
"Hang Me Up to Dry" Cold War Kids
"Happy Together" The Turtles
"Honky Tonk Women" The Rolling Stones
"I Heard It Through the Grapevine" Marvin Gaye
"I Want You to Want Me" (Live) Cheap Trick
"If You Could Only See" Tonic
"In a Big Country" Big Country
"Just a Girl" No Doubt
"Kids" Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue
"Kung Fu Fighting" Carl Douglas
"L.E.S. Artistes" Santigold
"Let's Dance" David Bowie
"Lifeline" Papa Roach
"Like Whoa" Aly & AJ
"Lips of an Angel" Hinder
"Love is a Battlefield" Pat Benatar|
"Love Story" Taylor Swift
"Mr. Roboto" Styx
"Ocean Avenue" Yellowcard
"Oh, Pretty Woman" Roy Orbison
"Our Lips Are Sealed" The Go-Go's
"Paralyzer" Finger Eleven
"Picture to Burn" Taylor Swift
"Pictures of You" The Last Goodnight
"Put Your Records On" Corinne Bailey Rae
"Rio" Duran Duran
"Rock Star" N.E.R.D.
"Santa Monica (Watch the World Die)" Everclear
"She Will Be Loved" Maroon 5
"So Yesterday" Hilary Duff
"Steal My Kisses" Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
"Sugar, We're Goin Down" Fall Out Boy
"Take a Picture" Filter
"Take Back the City" Snow Patrol
"Take What You Take" Lily Allen
"The Adventure" Angels & Airwaves
"The Impression That I Get" The Mighty Mighty Bosstones
"Turn Off the Light" Nelly Furtado
"Walking on Sunshine" Katrina and the Waves
"Wannabe" Spice Girls
"Warwick Avenue" Duffy
"When I'm Gone" 3 Doors Down
"Whip It" Devo
"Y.M.C.A." Village People
"You Belong With Me" Taylor Swift
"You Had Me" Joss Stone
With gameplay that matches Guitar Hero 5 the track listing becomes even more critical and as the first title in the Band Hero franchise Activision have obviously gone all out to make sure this contains plenty of hits. In terms of our personal thoughts, yes, we enjoyed this set list which has a more poppy feel, with less emphasis on the guitar sections, but is probably more playable for a 'mainstream' music audience. In terms of highlights tracks we certainly enjoyed "American Pie" by Don McLean, "Don't Speak" by No Doubt, "Let's Dance" by David Bowie and "Whip It" by Devo although we're sure you will find your own favourites among this collection.
We have to say though that there are a few oddities not least of which is "Wannabe" by UK girl-band Spice Girls where you will be playing the keyboard notes on the guitar. Another annoyance is that, even if you own the previous titles you need to pay to import the songs. We were also a little disappointed that the developers haven't put in plenty of unlockable content such as videos and trivia which we loved in Guitar Hero: Metallica.
|4-players playing Band Hero!|
As with games in the Guitar Hero series Band Hero fully caters for online gameplay. Again, this section of the game is nigh on identical to that in previous games and includes for 4-player Vs 4-player band battles. If you don't have that many people, no matter, as even 1 on 1 games are playable and any combination you desire. As expected online leaderboards are included so you can compare your career and progress to the millions of other gamers around the world.
Also returning is the ability to use GH Tunes which allows you to download music created by thousands of Guitar Hero owners, but also create your own music and upload it to the servers for people to download and play. Again Activision have been keen to point out that cover versions of songs will not be permitted due to copyright restrictions, but that doesn't mean there isn't some quality songs up there (check out the Xmas songs among the favourites to date).
There are two versions of Band Hero available in Australia. The stand alone game sells for $AU89.95 (order here), while the band kit (game, drums, guitar, mic) sells for $AU329.95 (order here). Make your choice...
It's fair to say that Band Hero looks like a "neon-ised" version of Guitar Hero. Besides the bold, bright colours the character and game world detail is on par with other efforts in the Hero franchise with impressive avatars of Taylor Swift, Adam Levine (of Maroon 5), and No Doubt appearing in the game thanks to extensive motion capture sessions. Menus are slick and the in-game note tracks are clear and easy to see as well. Again our biggest complaint with this game revolves around the rather generic looking crowds.
Besides the actual tracks included in this game the audio is solid with good crowd effects (which amplifies when you kick off star power), while the menus utilise the songs included on the disc to keep the theme pumping, and gives the menu a fresh feel with different songs.
With a good selection of popular tracks Band Hero provides all the thrills of the Guitar Hero games but with more 'mainstream' music. If you prefer heavy rock music this isn't for you, but nor is it intended to be. Technically polished Band Hero is a game which the whole family can enjoy.
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||It looks like Guitar Hero but much more colourful.||94%|
|SOUND||With a great tracklist and solid ambient/menu effects this sounds great.||90%|
|GAMEPLAY||Brilliant game modes, fantastic options, solid playlist.||87%|
|VALUE||65 songs is good, but not as extensive as GH5, paying to import sucks, but there's a decent selection of songs in the Store.||83%|
|OVERALL||Band Hero is a successful outing for Activision's "Hero" franchise to the mainstream popular music genres. Presentation is superb and gameplay is just as entertaining as other titles in the franchise.||87%|