Band Hero Review

Band Hero: For the people in your house who don’t like rock music

Xbox 360

I love the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises.  I can usually look at the back of the box and say yes I know at least half those songs.  The trouble is most of my friends and family barely know a quarter of them on each of them and then they only like three, so I end up changing discs all night so everyone can play at least one song they know and like.  Band Hero is ideal if you live in one of these households it has tracks from Taylor Swift (that country and western singer who was rudely interrupted at the MTV awards) to The Mighty Mighty Bosstones (a ska punk band best know over here as being that band in the film Clueless).  It even contains classic bands such as Culture Club (for your mum), Queen (for your dad) and Spice Girls (for anyone who wasn’t listening to Culture Club or Queen in the 90s).

The Kit

Even though I already have a perfectly good full Rock Band kit, I’ve always preferred the Guitar hero drums, I like the cymbals, (yes that really is the only reason).

The kit comes with the most recent version of Guitar Hero guitar (first seen in World Tour) but with a different faceplate, instead of a fake wood effect it now has a fake red glitter effect.  I personally prefer the other faceplate and at some point will most probably switch them over.  What the Band Hero guitar does have which is different is the strum bar now has a nice rubbery effect which means after a couple of hours of playing when your hands get a bit sweaty your fingers don’t slide of it.  It also has tiny dots across the top of the middle part of the guitar neck which is a touch sensitive pad, this is good because now you can see where you are putting your fingers however the dots are so tiny you most probably won’t notice them until you’ve struggled for 3 hours (like me). My small gripe with the guitar was the pure laziness of Activision not to even brand their products, the guitar still have Guitar Hero across the top and I didn’t get any pretty stickers to cover it up.

The microphone is exactly the same as all the other kits, simple black USB mic that does its job.  I am a bit miffed why they didn’t pop in a wireless mic as everything else seems to be but I guess they can justify it as, “it’s still cheaper than the World Tour Kit”.  It seems silly to me that now the drummer can sit wherever they like in the room (thanks to the glory of wireless) but the singer, the person allowed to run around the stage, is tied a meter and half to the console.  It doesn’t matter to me anyway as I have the Lips microphones which apparently are compatible with the game and look much better (it’s the pretty flashing lights that does it).

The drums are the major change for me; going from Rock Band drums to these has been like going from a Walkman Cassette player to an iPod Touch.  The first thing I noticed was the size when flat packed, these drums pack down into a small box easily.  Even set up these drums seem smaller than the Rock Band and World Tour drums which is good if you like them permanently set up.  These drums are also quieter to hit which is good for me as now I get to hear the song instead of wood hitting plastic.  Another great little feature is the way the drumsticks are stored, on the Rock Band kit they just rest on two arms that come out of the top whereas on Band Hero they have a nice little hole on the right hand side that they click into quite satisfyingly.  One thing I should point out is that now you are playing with 6 notes instead of 5 so it can become tricky very fast, especially when you see orange and are hitting the pedal and then wondering why it isn’t working, yes I did that for about 3 songs before I realised I’m an idiot.  The finish on the legs and such is now a nice matte black instead of silver which is a nice touch that makes them look less like a computer game and a tiny bit more like a proper electric drum kit.

As nice as the kit is pretty much all the other Guitar Hero or Rock Band kits work with the game so if you don’t feel like spending £125 for a new set then you don’t have too.

The Game

I’ll start of by saying; if you’ve played Guitar Hero 5 then you’ve played Band Hero.  The style and format is exactly the same the differences are the songs, the colour scheme and the guest artists, though from reading recent news stories the lawsuits that go with guest artist are exactly the same.  The colour scheme has gone from reds and blacks to purple, pinks and blues thus making it super friendly for every teenybopper girl out there.  The guest artists are now the likes of Taylor Swift, Gwen Stefani and Adam Levine (Maroon 5) again playing to the teenage girls in my opinion.

The songs however are good and as much as there is something in there for the teenage girls, there is something for everyone else.  Highlights, to me at least, include No Doubt, Jackson 5, David Bowie and Lily Allen.

For those who haven’t played any music game before it’s a simple theory, hit the correct colours as they pass through the bar at the bottom.  The game becomes a lot harder when you actually put that theory in to practice but after a bit of swearing and practice I guarantee it does become more fun.

There are a number of game play modes, career, quick play, online co-op and various battle modes.  All are similar to any other music games you might have played except for the quick play mode.  Whereas in the past you had to play through the career mode to unlock the songs for the quick play mode now all you have to do is turn the console on.  Which makes me wonder what’s the point of career mode?  Of course the answer is the unlockable items and of course the achievement points.  However it is nice to have friends round and say of course we can play that song and not worry if I have unlocked it or not.  However this mode is not new if you have played Guitar Hero 5.

Neither is the great idea that you can play as you’re avatar.  It is so much easier to just select your avatar, which you’ve already spent time moulding and dressing, than tweeking a hundred different features to make the character look like you.

As with Guitar Hero 5 you can import a lot of your DLC songs but now you can also import Guitar Hero 5 and World Tour.  The annoying thing with this is that you have to pay for the privilege to play songs you’ve already bought.  On Xbox live it costs around 280 points to import each disc, however I should point out that all songs will not get moved across.  I’m assuming it is down to royalties but it might just be a bit more laziness on Activision’s part.

A small bugbear I have is that there is many occasions when the guitarist will be playing a piano, harmonica or a saxophone but that’s just the musician in me screaming that playing a guitar is nothing like playing a piano.  However I can imagine that a guitarist would say that playing guitar hero is nothing like playing a guitar.

It does feel like Activision have really just painted over Guitar Hero 5 and slapped some songs in to make the format appeal to those who would not play a rock game.  Overall the game is a good addition to anyone’s music game collection and at around £30 for just the game and £125 for the full set, it does come slightly cheaper than most.

In conclusion:

Buy it if you love music games and want to add variety to your playlist especially for Christmas when the family comes round.

Rent it if you want to quickly run through it for some achievements

Miss it if you don’t enjoy music games or if you like your true rock music as there is little of that here.

GS Reviewer: Little Witch



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One comment

  1. We gave this a drunken go and it was ok. Not our best game for music choice to be honest.

    One thing I miss on this and GH5 though is the larger “How much trouble am I in?” indicator. The big red/yellow/green speedometer made it a lot more fun and tense if there was a gang of you. Now its a lot harder to see how well you are doing without taking your eyes off the notes

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