Adding to the problem is the fact that only the current members of the band are included as character models. Eddie, Alex, David, and Wolfgang all appear in digital form. Eddie's guitar has the signature Frankenstein paint job, and Wolfgang's bass has a similar look. Michael Anthony and Sammy Hagar are nowhere to be found, not even in loading screen trivia. If you look back to Guitar Hero Metallica, the same thing happened (with only Trujillo on bass) but at least the songs featuring older lineups were included. Not so in GH Van Halen, and it's a bit sad, to be honest. It's as if Van Halen doesn't even acknowledge the past twenty-five years of their own history. In digitized form, the guys look so different, older, with shorter hair; they are almost unrecognizable as the fun loving 80s band. The spandex era models are unlockable, but should have been available from the beginning. The whole idea behind the game seems to be that the band is frozen in time in 1984, so why not go all out and use the band's classic look from their heyday? Instead, the "modern era" look just reminds us of how long its been since Van Halen was relevant in the music industry.
If there is one good thing about Guitar Hero Van Halen that deserves mentioning, it's the difficulty. The songs start fairly easy, but by the last few venues, the note tracks are very, very difficult. Eddie Van Halen is one of the most influential guitar players ever, and his solos are epic and jaw dropping. This translates well in the game. "Eruption" in particular is quite challenging, with only a small bit of star power available to get through the entire song. My son plays guitar on expert and hasn't made it past the 75% mark in this song after a dozen tries. For gamers who enjoy testing their skills and don't mind lots of practice, the guitar solos in Guitar Hero Van Halen are a nice change of pace from the more casual friendly music game releases this fall. It's a bit of a two-edged sword though, as the difficulty could be frustrating for some players.
My least favorite co-op killing feature of the older Guitar Hero engine is back. There is no way to revive a teammate once they have failed out; when one person drops out of the red, the whole band is done. It's been years since Rock Band fixed this problem, and even the previous Guitar Hero 5 did away with it. It's frustrating, it's not co-op at all, and there's no reason it should have been included.
I was initially very excited to hear about Guitar Hero Van Halen. But as the bad news kept coming in, my expectations lowered drastically. When Activision announced they were giving away copies of the game to those who bought Guitar Hero 5 early, I knew the writing was on the wall. The lack of content, old game engine, and omission of Hagar and Anthony from the game make it an absolute mess. There are no behind the scenes features like those of GH Metallica, no strong set list like GH Smash Hits, and none of the innovations of GH 5. Guitar Hero Van Halen is the worst Guitar Hero game to date, and is everything that is wrong about music games all wrapped up in one sad little package.
The Co-Op Experience: Play through the game's song as a drummer, guitar, bass or singer just like the real band. Long hair not required or included!
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.