Rating: 3/5 stars
“Band Hero” is the latest musical game from Activision (makers of “Guitar Hero”). It is done in the “Rock Band” style, where up to four people can play any combination of drums, guitar, bass and singing. The game is designed with a younger audience in mind, and, therefore, this game has a different track list than usual, as the songs are all top 40 pop hits. This isn’t that bad though. Songs such as “American Pie” and “Pretty Women” are included. Also of note are three Taylor Swift songs.
I did not like “Band Hero” as much as I like “Rock Band.” I have some major criticisms about how the screen is set up when you are playing with other people. In “Rock Band,” how well everyone is doing is presented in a bar on the left side of the screen. It is easy to see where everyone is without disturbing your ability to see the notes. In “Band Hero,” this information is split up, so that each person can only see his or her own status. This is highly annoying because when someone is about to fail, you don’t know who it is. Also, if you want to see how the band is doing overall, you usually just glance at the star meter that is easy to see in “Rock Band”; but in “Band Hero,” it is nearly impossible to see how many stars you are going to receive because the star meter is really tiny.
The track list for “Band Hero” is also tiny. There are only 65 songs, and, while there are some good ones, there are not that many songs that I feel like I really need to play.
And then the drums. I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to have the bass pedal notes be the same color as the background, but someone needs to be shot. The first time I played drums in “Band Hero,” I failed out in 15 seconds because I had no clue that the bass notes were there! There is one improvement in “Band Hero” with regard to drums, in that there is an “Expert+” mode in which you have to hook up a second bass pedal. This is great for those drummers who are bored from lack of challenge.
“Band Hero” does make some changes from “Rock Band” that are nice. You can now play any instrument with more than one person. So, if you choose, you can rock out with four guitarists, or four vocalists, or…you get the picture. This prevents the classic Rock Band scene in which two good guitar players fight over who gets what part, because the bass part is never as fun.
“Band Hero” also makes some improvements over “Rock Band” in some of the gameplay. The vocals are better because the game actually tells you what you are missing. Also, the guitar parts are the same difficulty, but the system for “Band Hero,” and the “Guitar Hero” games in general, is easier to play.
There are also a couple of cool gameplay options. The classic Pro Face-Off is back, which is when two guitar players battle head to head. I really enjoy this option because it lets you settle, once and for all, who is the better guitar player. Also included is a party mode, in which you can drop in and out of the game without disturbing the other band members.
Last is an option that lets you create your own songs and then play them. Also included is an option to download songs that other people have created. And these songs are usually not just random mashing on the frets; there are actually some remakes of songs such as “Master of Puppets,” “Eruption” and the Zelda Hyrule Temple song.
Overall, “Band Hero” is a decent game that makes some peripheral changes, but due to some major problems is just not up to par with “Rock Band.” Maybe next time, Activision.