Guitar Hero: Van Halen Review by Sashamorning

06 May 2010
20 9 7
I'm a sucker for music games, as you can probably tell by looking at my achievements. I got GH:VH for free as a promotion by buying GH5. Unfortunately, to paraphrase one reviewer, I can see why they gave this one out for free.

Let me make it clear right now... at this point, there are so many games that basically you're buying GH:VH for the songs it includes, since the same basic style is the same no matter which (newer) music game you're playing. You're paying for the soundtrack.

I don't hate this disc... I don't even dislike it. However, "strong disappointment" comes to mind. First of all, even though GH:VH was released after GH5, it still has more elements akin to GH:World Tour than the excellent GH5 (including party mode, amongst other things).

As another reviewer already said, GH:VH follows almost the exact same format as GH:Metallica: some songs by the band, some songs by... others. And that's where some of the problem lies. Metallica made a point of choosing heroes of theirs for some of the songs, songs that they'd actually covered (like "Tuesday's Gone" by Skynyrd, "Stone Cold Crazy" by Queen, etc.). Van Halen, on the other hand basically (as Eddie actually said) let Wolfgang Van Halen pick some songs to fill the game out. As a result, we get songs like "Stacy's Mom" and "Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)". These songs seem to fit in with Van Halen's style about as much as... well, they're all rock.

Also, the inclusion of only David Lee Roth songs is perplexing. As much animosity as there has been within the band, it seems that basically VH is spiting Sammy Hagar at the expense of those among us who really liked the Hagar era as well. (Don't get me wrong, but I think the songwriting got better with Hagar, and I *really* REALLY wanted to play "Poundcake".) What's even more strange is that since VH (I'm assuming) owns the rights to all the songs, it wouldn't have been an issue to include the songs, although they may have had to do without Hagar's image on stage. (So Roth sings Hagar... so what?)

The achievements aren't really any different than most other music games. There are some easy ones (do the tutorial, watch a song extra) and some more grind-y ones (play all VH songs on all 4 instruments, 5-star all songs on each instrument). Like I said, what sets this apart is the soundtrack, and that's where I'm disappointed. 47 songs, but only 25 are by VH, and the latest of those ("Panama", released in 1983) is the first song of the game.

Please, guys... I'll pay for DLC if you'll let us have the Hagar songs, too.

3 stars, because it isn't much different from every other music game out there, not as good technically as the far superior GH5 which came out before this did, and for the only okay soundtrack. (Yes, it's Van Halen, but it could have been SO MUCH MORE.) Wait for the price to come down.
Trivial FactorNot only the omission of Hagar, but the fact that the only bassist mentioned in the game is Wolfgang, the 19 year old son of Eddie who joined the band in 2006? Really? None of the other bassists deserve a mention over a kid who wasn't even born when the band was popular?
Posted by Trivial Factor on 06 May 10 at 03:46
SashamorningOh, I totally agree. On the other hand, it makes sense for the band to have the current lineup. GH:Metallica doesn't have Newsted or Burton in game... but it has their SONGS (most notably "Orion").

VH history is like a soap opera. Michael Anthony was with the band for so long, but now he's a pariah (so much that VH actually went so far as to remove his image from their site--even from ALBUM COVERS!--before serious fan backlash caused a change the next day. So while I don't expect Anthony to be there, at least the music he made is there, unlike Hagar.
Posted by Sashamorning on 06 May 10 at 03:56
WaggiesaurusRexThere needs to be a definitive Van Halen music game, as they are one of my favourite bands! I was playing Van Halen yesterday and realised they had missed some amazing songs out (with DLR) that they could have added, such as Drop Dead Legs from 1984, and it got me wondering, where was Hagar’s’ music?

The whole Hagar era changed Van Halens music completely, and although DLR and Hagar literally hated each other, as well the Alex and Eddie disliking him as well, would it have really hurt them if they added songs like you said, such as ‘Poundcake’, ‘Runaround’, ‘Dreams’ and ‘Best of Both Worlds’? DLR is so far up his own ass, he probably knew that Hagar’s music was better than most of his so he didn't want to add anything that would hurt his 'ego'.

Another thing that I had to moan about was the guest artists. Instead of putting Van Hagar songs in there, why not add a few of his solo works? I Can't Drive 55, Heavy Metal etc. The same could have been done with DLR. After they DLR and Van Halen parted ways in 1985 or whenever it was, Roth's music took a turn for the better, such as his album 'A Little Ain't Enough' which is, in my opinion, his best solo works to date.

It just doesn't make any sense, they had the chance to make the game the best it could be, but they couldn't even do that. Don’t get me wrong, there is still an amazing selection of VH’s hits, but there could have been so much more.
One more thing before the mini rant is over. The code on the back of the manual doesn’t import the songs over? Do you know why? Was it something to do with copyright?

Anyway I’m up voting because this review is exactly what I was thinking!

Merry Christmas!
Posted by WaggiesaurusRex on 25 Dec 13 at 14:35
SashamorningAgreed! The latest song was Panama?! Van Hagar may have been a departure from "real" VH, but tbh, VH can't write songs for crap. (Exceptions: Panama, the overplayed Jump, and I'll Wait. All on 1984.) Eruption is really crap. It's scales. ReallyreallyFAST scales, but scales. Hagar brought in songwriting talent, and EVH couldn't stand him for it, and at the end bitched about the lyrics. We know how they've done since then. Such a shame.
Posted by Sashamorning on 25 Dec 13 at 18:23
SashamorningAnd yeah, I'm sure it's all to do with copyright.
Posted by Sashamorning on 25 Dec 13 at 18:23
WaggiesaurusRexI have to say though, I definitely prefer most of Hagar's work over DLR's though. I know Activision don't really give a crap about GH anymore, so I don't think the code will ever work:(. Its a shame really, I would have loved to play VH songs in GH6 and whatnot.
Posted by WaggiesaurusRex on 26 Dec 13 at 17:47
SashamorningHarmonix has intimated that they aren't finished with RB, though (probably waiting for the new X1 code), so since there's no GH, maybe VH songs could be licensed for that.
Posted by Sashamorning on 26 Dec 13 at 17:55