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  • Guitar Hero: Van Halen – Initial Reaction

    Posted on October 9th, 2009 Shawn 4 comments

    guitar-hero-van-halen[1]This is called “Initial Reaction” versus “First Impression” because I have only had the game in my possession for a total of 2 hours, and have given it about 25 minutes of play time. With that, let’s jump in.

    I am a HUGE Van Halen fan, the David Lee Roth years. Some of my favorite albums growing up are Fair Warning and Women and Children First. I appreciate the Sammy years, but it took a lot of counseling before I’d admit that in public. The keyboards just never felt right to me. Then Gary Cherone…well, loved him in Extreme, but didn’t belong in VH.

    Enter Activisions attempt to keep the band games coming, with GH: Van Halen. Even I said, “Really, they are making a full game about Van Halen? Who knew they were popular enough for it?”  I know they are (were) huge, but they aren’t The Beatles. 

    In typical Guitar Hero fashion, there is a quick play mode and a career mode.  Chose career mode and jump right in.  But wait…WTF is on my screen.  It starts with Eddie Van Halen center stage in an arena playing Eruption.  That’s awesome!!  But he has short hair, so it’s Eddie today, not 1974.  So, I’m guessing it’s not in chronological order. Then the rest of the band appears to finish our the instrumental, and you dive right into Panama.  It’s a pretty kick-ass start of a concert, but somethings not right.

    Where’s the intro video of the history of the band?  Where’s a little personality, versus dive right in? Who the hell is the little kid on bass? Wait, what….it’s Eddie’s son Wolfgang.  Ok, that makes sense since the reunited Van Halen does not include 30+ year band bassist Michael Anthony.  He chose (supposedly) not to join the VH reunion tour to boycott DLR rejoining the band.  As far as chronology goes, I’m ok with the short hair Eddie & Dave, with teenager on bass. Back to the story in a minute.

    Game play, for me a drummer, is as fun as it gets. At least for Panama and Ain’t Talking Bout Love (the only two I tried). There’s Expert+ (which typically requires a 2nd bass drum pedal). I don’t have that set up right now, so stayed with Expert. Out of the gate, calibration was off.  I was actually able to get the drums calibrated within a few seconds (unlike the awful calibration system on GH5).

    Vocals are fun to play too.  As far as playability, I’m pretty certain it’s exactly the same game engine as GH: Metallica. I haven’t tried guitar and don’t plan too.

    Back to the story.  I still have a ways to go but, I know this…when the band goes back in time to look like their early days, DLR has long hair and wears spandex; Eddie has his long curly locks.  All as expected, except….that teenager is still on bass guitar.  So, even though Michael Anthony actually played the bass on every single VH song in the game, his mug shot got cut from the entire game.  THAT’S A FRIGGIN’ DISGRACE!  I don’t know who I’m more upset with, VH for allowing this, or Activision/Neversoft for only bringing in the bands current lineup. 

    From what I have seen so far, this game is going to be amazing to play (if you are an old, old school VH fan).  It looks like there is no story or band background (unlike the stellar history lesson you get with The Beatles: Rock Band).  Only the current lineup is visualized in the game.  What a HUGE missed opportunity to make a history lesson of the Evolution of Van Halen in this game.  It would have been incredible to talk about the early years of the band partying, playing at colleges, getting pissed about having brown M&M’s in their dressing room.  Then talk about the transition after 1984 to Sammy Hagar, and actually have Sammy in the game.  Then maybe even toss in a Cherone song for sh!t’s and giggles. It really is a fun story, and could have been captured so well, with a TON of DLC opportunities.

    So, based on my 25 minute experience with the game…..I say, if you are a VH (with DLR) fan, buy it….buy it, play it, and love it.  If you are a Sammy fan, curse it, and boycott Activision.  If you are a fan of factual depiction, place a hex on anyone involved in the creation of the game…because nothing you see on screen is factual.  Nothing!

    For me, a drummer, a singer, and a DLR fan……I love it!  Time to stop typing and play some more.


    3 responses to “Guitar Hero: Van Halen – Initial Reaction” RSS icon

    • Good points. What is the point of a Van Halen game that has no authentic Van Halen in it ??? On the other hand, it’s not like Cliff Burton or that other dude made an appearance in GH: Metallica, (could be wrong, I don’t have that one), I’m not surprised to see junior van halen or that they excluded a lot of great songs from the Hagar era as well. You called it, they are no Beatles, the Beatles had the decency to quit and stay down instead of reforming with a new lineup over and over again until you have what we have now in the game. It’s silly, and an insult to the fans, and rather than put out a game that does the great VH justice, they rush this out to compete against The Beatles game.

    • Simon,

      Cliff Burton, and the other guy was Jason Newstead. That’s a great point you bring up. So, basically Neversoft dropped the “history lesson” ball on both GH:VH and GH:M. Too bad.

    • Consoles & Gadgets

      Great Info! I don’t normally reply! But, wanted to say hello and say thanks for the great information. World could use a few more blogs like this – Charly

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