Give Band Hero A Break

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What is it with all the whinging about Band Hero? Why bother with such displays of rock snobbery? Anthrax fans don’t waste their time whining about the music of Michael Bublé. Do they? So why is Band Hero getting so much flack?

To me it seems that complaining about Activision producing Band Hero is a bit like complaining about Walkers making Cheese & Onion crisps because you only like Ready Salted. Or it’s like complaining about Ferrari making cars in yellow because you think they only look good in red. The fact is that if you’re moaning about Band Hero then it’s probably because it’s not aimed at you.

Nothing about the way the game is marketed would make anyone think it has been produced for the consumption of your average rock fan. Band Hero (unlike the other spin-offs based on Metallica, Aerosmith and Van Halen) is targeted at a completely different audience. They really should’ve called it Pop Hero, but I guess that was a little too close to a certain TV show’s title. Band Hero is squarely aimed at people who haven’t played Guitar Hero or at those that have bought one of the original titles even though they don’t particularly like rock music (and so end up playing the same three songs again and again).

Band Hero isn’t the product of a “lazy” developer or a particularly greedy publisher (in this one instance Activision isn’t guilty of that). It may have been developed concurrently alongside the latest Guitar Hero, and share its technology, but it’s a proper game in its own right.

For starters it features a full complement of sixty-five songs. That’s less than the eighty-odd in most of the main Guitar Hero games but considerably more than the 40-50 tracks in the other spin-offs. Does the tracklist justify its own disk? Couldn’t it just have been downloadable content? Perhaps, but it would have weighed in at over eighty pounds at current DLC prices and putting it on a retail disk makes it more accessible to the game’s target audience.

There’s also nothing wrong with the way Band Hero plays. It’s based on the very solid Guitar Hero 5 engine, a game I much preferred to the awful Guitar Hero World Tour. It features all the regular features such as full band drop in/drop out play, multiplayer modes, on the fly song difficulty and instrument selection.

What about the criticism that the music doesn’t fit the game because it’s not guitar orientated enough? I’m not completely convinced that you can argue that hitting buttons on a pretend plastic instrument somehow fits the sound from a guitar any more than it does that of a keyboard. You don’t have to play guitar on each track anyway. If the song hasn’t got a strong, or fun, guitar part then you can simply switch instrument! Most of the songs have decent drum or bass parts and you can always choose to sing. Even without instruments, Band Hero is a perfectly decent karaoke game. Yes, it may retail for over twice the price of a Singstar title but it’s also got over three times the content in terms of the tracklist alone.

In my opinion Band Hero is a perfectly decent game and one that a large number of the expanded game audience would be better off buying than the regular Guitar Hero. Real heavy rock fans shouldn’t hate it. They just shouldn’t buy it. In a way they should be glad that Activision commissioned Band Hero. Having two distinct game series, catering for completely different musical tastes may stop them further watering down the soundtrack in the main Guitar Hero games. Then again, looking at the poorer sales figures for Band Hero, it may be too late for that. I imagine we’ll be seeing songs like ‘Agadoo’ and ‘Shaddup You Face’ in Guitar Hero 6.

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