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I bought Band Hero having previously bought/played Guitar Hero (GH) 3 and World Tour. At the time I bought it, Band Hero was still about £20 at the cheap end of the scale.
This extension of the GH franchise harks back to GH:3’s style of gameplay, in that you travel along a set path of gigs, and have to (in this case) collect enough stars to unlock the next gig/new tracks. Much like World Tour though you can skip around a little bit by playing extra well on fewer songs to unlock new areas faster. This game also introduces unlockable rewards for fulfilling certain criteria, such as number of notes hit, or playing a segment of a song well. For doing these you can earn locked items such as new clothes and characters, or cheats which make the game easier. As with all the other Wii versions of GH you are meant to play the songs on the guitar (mostly), bass, or drum controllers, but you can just about get away with using a Wiimote, although I warn you it is extremely difficult to complete the game this way. Band Hero also contains a Rockstar Creator (as did World Tour) so you can customize your band, a ‘Party Play’ mode (in addition to the normal Quick Play) which lets you jump in and out of a playlist of your creation, with no failing, and a “Roadie Battle Mode” which can only be used if you have a Nintendo DS and. I believe, a copy of the game for the DS.
Well, this is what the game is about, so its getting its own section. Die hard fans of GH:3 and World Tour will be sadly disappointed if they buy this game hoping for the same sort of musical content. The clue is in the name change, Band Hero is the light pop-rock to plain outright pop version of GH, and caters for the less alternative music genres. Activision have thankfully included some oldies in there amongst the new stuff, so we see artists such as Marvin Gaye (Heard It Through the Grapevine) nestled next to Taylor Swift (Love Story) in the line up. It makes for a pleasant enough mix of songs (65 of them according to the front of the case), which can be enjoyed by families of all ages.
These are definitely an improvement upon GH:3 and a bit of an improvement after the ‘psychedelic’ displays of the backgrounds in World Tour. The rendering is smoother and looks more detailed, especially on the characters you can create. The backgrounds are pleasing to look at but not so blaring that they burn your eyes out, and the contrast on the scroll bar is good too.
They’ve really sorted out the load times on this game, and the longest wait you’ll have is on the first install, while the rest loads brilliantly quickly (especially when compared to the drudgery of World Tour). The musical range will be enjoyed by a greater proportion than that of the other GH’s, and is suitable for everyone in the family, even little ones, as there aren’t any songs that are likely to disturb or cause anyone too much offence. Once again Activision have included digital likenesses of real popstars, so you can get up and play as or with people like Taylor Swift and No Doubt. Multiplayer on this game works very well, with everyone working separately but together at the same time, with no lag (in either Party Play, Quick Play or Career Mode).
Once you’ve unlocked all the gigs, and played all the songs, there is little left to work toward expect the few unlockable rewards that haven’t been completed through the actual career progression, which definitely detracts from its replayability. For the most part, the game (in my house) has been dusted off to play karaoke on with friends more than to play it as a band since I finished the career. Speaking of the karaoke side, the singing side of the game has definitely been improved since World Tour where quite frankly, it felt like it had been tacked on the end. The words are easier to read and the game recognises wrong/missed notes a lot better (although this makes it more difficult). The characters on this game aren’t quite as customisable as in World Tour, probably to save space and load times, and its not going to be greatly missed unless you create many new characters or change your characters clothing repeatedly.
Overall I would say this is an excellent spin-off adaptation of the GH group, which does cater heavily to the popsters of the world, but as such will appeal to a big audience and can be enjoyed by families.