Making it just in time for Christmas, Guitar Hero: Van Halen debuted to a mostly lukewarm reception. Promising an in depth experience for Van Halen fans, Guitar Hero Van Halen is the latest in a series of band-specific Guitar Hero games. This time, players take control of Eddie Van Halen and the rest of the band to perform some of Van Halen’s greatest hits such as “Jump” and “Panama”. Check out the full review below to see how this Guitar Hero title lives up to the Van Halen name.

Born in the mid-1980s, I never had much of an appreciation for music until the late 90s where I mostly listened to Blink-182, Jimmy Eat World, and Green Day. I had heard the occasional Van Halen track on the radio, but for the most part, Van Halen didn’t interest me very much. That said, Guitar Hero Van Halen features not only 25 Van Halen classics, but also a number of other songs from various bands including Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World. This is a welcome addition as most of the Van Halen songs were meh-worthy from the start. There are plenty of guitar solos in the Van Halen songs, but when it’s not your style of music, it tends to dampen the experience. Even from an objective view, Guitar Hero Van Halen does little to innovate.

Previous Guitar Hero games added little features here and there such as GH: Metallica’s Expert Drum Mode (Dual Drum Peddles) and GH5’s DS connectivity, but GH: Van Halen has basically the same feature-set as Guitar Hero World Tour. The game features online connectivity and allows players to sing, play guitar/bass, and the drums (the game also features the GH Studio to record your own tracks). Sound familiar? On the one hand, it’s nice they have most of the current Guitar Hero features in the game, but at the same time, it would’ve been nice to have some upgrades despite a new interface-skin and songs. The one ‘addition’ that I immediately noticed was the audience now sings along to the songs. This feature is incredibly distracting, and even after adjusting the audio settings, it still felt like the audience was drowning out the actual band track! Why would you want to play a song when all you hear is the crowd singing poorly in the background?

The setlist itself is a mixed bag. If you’re a Van Halen fan, you’ll probably be pleased, but otherwise there’s not much here to choose from. My favorite tracks are “Pain” by Jimmy Eat World and “First Date”. As far as being a full, retail release, Guitar Hero Van Halen doesn’t live up to its price point.


The game features all of the same multiplayer modes from other Guitar Hero games and also allows for online connectivity. It’s mostly the standard fare which is a little disappointing.  The lack of a career mode also means co-op is limited to the Quick Play mode.


If you’re really in the need for another Guitar Hero game, your best bet is Guitar Hero 5. Even if you’re a Van Halen fan, the song selection and lack of compelling new features (and no career mode) make GH: Van Halen a virtual dud. I would definitely recommend keeping to Guitar Hero 5 and just download some Van Halen tracks if you want your fix.

Guitar Hero: Van Halen gets a 5.2/10