- Publisher: Activision
- Developer: Underground Development
- ESRB Rating: “T” for Teen
- Genre: Music
- Pros: Decent challenge
- Cons: Bad song list; poor presentation; $60 price tag; no Hagar; few extras
Obviously, if you are a die-hard Van Halen fan, you’re going to get more out of this game than anyone else. Even as a big fan of the band, however, it is hard to overlook some of the shortcomings here. First off, the game is firmly rooted in the pre Sammy Hagar days. Only late 70’s-early 80’s Van Halen material is featured in the game. Secondly, bassist Michael Anthony split from the band a few years ago and was replaced with Eddie’s son, Wolfgang Van Halen. Third, the character models are completely awful. Instead of playing as Van Halen in their heyday, we play as current day, old, stiff, wrinkly 2009 Van Halen, which is just weird and makes a really odd clash by having a fat young kid bassist playing with the geriatric rock band. You do eventually unlock “classic” Van Halen models, but the animation in the game in general is stiff and they just plain look old. Another problem in the game comes from the fact that the interviews and videos and extra tidbits for fans to appreciate that made GH: Metallica so awesome (and GH: Aerosmith at least passable) are nowhere to be found here. It is just bare bones in pretty much every way.
Another major issue comes from the song list. As I mentioned, it only covers pre-Hagar Van Halen, which hacks the potential song list down into bits and pieces and scraps of what it should be. The additional 19 songs from other bands are also a disappointment because they don't make a lick of sense in the context of this game. Unlike GH: Metallica where the guest bands actually had some sort of connection to the band (either touring with them in the past or Metallica had covered their songs before or something), the guest bands in GH: Van Halen are just a mishmash of modern bands that don't make much sense in this context. The rumor going around is that Wolfgang Van Halen selected the guest bands, and it seems like he just picked a bunch of his favorite bands instead of picking stuff that would suit the game. Bad times.Gameplay
In terms of gameplay, the picture is a little brighter, thankfully. While the guest bands don't make a lick of sense in this context, at least a lot of their songs are fun to play. The Van Halen songs also provide a solid challenge, which is appreciated. Unlike the last non-Neversoft Guitar Hero title, Smash Hits, GH: Van Halen actually plays well and has decent note charts. With that said, finding songs in the 45+ song list that you actually want to play over and over (that aren't already in other music games you have), may prove pretty tough.
Graphics & Sound
The sound is fine. Not much to say here.
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy