While Band Hero might seem like a brand new entry into the now robust music-game catalogue on offer from Activision, it is undoubtedly just another Guitar Hero game in different clothing. While it might not be as hard rocking or challenging as previous Guitar Hero offerings, it does offer a surprisingly enjoyable band experience, giving you the chance to play through mainstream hits, as opposed to rock anthems and indie classics like in Guitar Hero 5. Activision are clearly aiming this latest entry to the more casual gamer market, hoping to go up against the likes of Lips and take over the lounge-room family game nights. Where Guitar Hero is more of a franchise for the diehard music fan, Band Hero is a bit more suited to the casual music fan, one that wants to rock out and sing along to memorable and well-known tracks.
While the tracklist in Band Hero is a little too mainstream for our liking, it does have some classic, lesser-known tracks on there that play quite well, namely Two Princes from The Spin Doctors, as well as a few tracks from Johnny Cash and guitar legend Carlos Santana.
The gameplay is practically unchanged from Guitar Hero 5, which is a great thing as the unlocking process from World Tour was tedious and not needed. You can jump into Quickplay and play any of the available tracks right from the get-go without having to unlock anything, and you can play with any combination of instruments as well. You’re not restricted to only one of each instrument for each track, so if you have four drum kits you can actually play against your mates using all four kits.
The career mode works identical to that in GH5 as well – move through different sets and unlock a specific number of stars to unlock brand new sets. You don’t have to play every single song to unlock everything and finish the game, but to achieve 100% completion you’ll obviously have to get every single star in order to get there. Everything that was improved in GH5 from World Tour is carried over to Band Hero, which is fantastic.
You can import track lists from World Tour, Greatest Hits and GH5, which is great, although not every song from those games are available for import. Still, the option to do so increases the game’s life slightly, as there’s also the promised DLC that Activision have shown in the past to be extensive and generally pretty good.
The presentation has been improved slightly from Guitar Hero 5, with crisper character designs as well as more detailed environments. Band Hero has a distinctive “pop” feeling to it to compliment its obvious focus on top 40 mainstream tracks. While the graphics are far from the most important thing in a music game, it’s good to see a little progression in the presentation and a focus on the main genre to compliment the songs available.
Band Hero is essentially another Guitar Hero game, although its track listing isn’t quite as large as a typical sequel. Still, the songs on offer are pretty good and the game is definitely more suited to a party atmosphere than Guitar Hero 5 is. It really depends on whether or not you like the tracks and if you think you need a new band music offering before the next Guitar Hero game.