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Guitar Hero: Van Halen

Score: 74%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Neversoft
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4; 1 - 8 (Online)
Genre: Rhythm/ Party/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

There are so many Guitar Hero games now that it's really hard to know when you should bother getting the next new one to come out. Guitar Hero: Van Halen is the latest edition to hit the shelves.

Graphically, there's not much different from it and the previous version. The song selection menu system is the one thing that looks a bit different. When you roll over a song, it makes it really big, but honestly it's distracting and makes me think it's a title of a group or something. I've had trouble getting used to the menu personally.

Your favorite characters are still there, like Pandora and Axel Steel, plus when you are playing a Van Halen song, you will get to play as the Van Halen guys (current line-up), David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Wolfgang Van Halen, and Alex Van Halen. As for the music, well that's the real reason that you buy Guitar Hero anyway, right? There are 25 Van Halen songs including popular favorites like "Runnin' With the Devil" and "Jump." You will not find any songs from when Sammy Hagar was singing lead though, and that's a real shame because there are some good Van Halen songs missing. There are also 19 songs from other bands including bands like Blink-182, Third Eye Blind, and The Clash among many others! So that gives you 44 songs to choose from, which is pretty good.


As with all the other Guitar Hero games, there are several different modes available for you to play. You should probably start with Career Mode. Here you will start at the beginning and play through the venues to unlock new songs. This is exactly like the versions before Guitar Hero 5. All of the songs are not unlocked by default in Guitar Hero: Van Halen. Eventually after you've earned enough stars in Career Mode, you'll unlock all the songs in the game. While you're not going to get some interesting band career stuff like you did with Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and Guitar Hero: Metallica, you do still get "song extras" on most of the songs. These extras include Rock FAQs and Lyrics.

If you just want to hop in and play songs, Quickplay is where you should go. Here, you just choose a song and play. But you will need to unlock the songs in Career Mode first! For those of you who want to play against someone else, choose Head to Head. If you don't have a friend to play with at your house though, just choose Nintendo WFC to try and find someone online to play against.

Backstage gives you a place to practice, Extras, Rock Star Creator, Leaderboards, and Community. It's the "random other stuff" area basically. The Music Studio is still there as well, so you can still mix your own songs and such. I'm sure you have noticed that I haven't mentioned Party or Roadie Battles. Well, that's because they are both missing from Guitar Hero: Van Halen.


As with the previous Guitar Hero releases, you can choose from Beginner, Easy, Medium, Hard, and Expert to play. Pretty much this gives you a level suitable for anyone to learn to play or to be challenged on. To us, the song difficulty seemed a bit easier than previous versions on most songs. Not much, but you might find that you can play a higher difficulty than in other versions.

If you need more of a challenge too, there's always the option of playing against other people. The online play is pretty good for finding a challenge. There's usually someone online that is ready to beat you if you think the game isn't hard enough.

If you're having trouble beating a particular part though, you can also use the Practice area in Backstage. It's very helpful to help you learn those difficult pieces.

Game Mechanics:

So I'm quite sure you know how to play Guitar Hero by now, or have at least seen it played. Basically, you have notes scrolling down a screen. When the note hits the bar at the bottom of the screen, you need to be holding that corresponding note and strum the bar at the exact time that it hits. It's really not as complicated as it sounds. The harder level that you play, the more notes you'll have to be holding down at once.

You can also collect Star Power by correctly playing the string of notes that appear different from the others on the screen. Once you have collected enough Star Power, simply tilt the guitar upwards to activate it. You'll get used to it in time as well. You want to try and use Star Power when you've already got a good multiplier going because it doubles the points you get.

Overall, Guitar Hero: Van Halen is a decent game with some good tracks, but considering it has about half the tracks of Guitar Hero 5 and is only $10 less, I'm not sure that it is worth the cost. But then considering they are giving it away as a promotional item to those that bought Guitar Hero 5, it's definitely worth free. If you're debating on which one to buy though, unless you're a huge Van Halen fan, I'd probably recommend one of the other versions.

-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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