Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Guitar Hero: Van Halen

Since I snagged a free promo copy of it at MAGFest X and have finished sightreading Guitar, it's time for some thoughts.

Very little, if anything engine-wise has changed, so there really isn't much to talk about other than critiquing the choice of songs and their charts.  And for the most part, the charts are fine, though there are some bits that are rather awkward to play.  Generally whenever there's chords and HOPO patterns combined with extended sustains.

Apparently the engine supports extended sustains involving slider notes, because extended sustains involving slider notes are all over the place.  This comes off as being incredibly weird to me, because when the controller's receiver is plugged into a computer, the touch strip maps as an analog axis.  But whatever, if it works, it works.  It's not like I use the touch strip anyway.

The cheats menu had me a bit confused.  One of the first things I did after firing the game up was go to ScoreHero's wiki page that has the button inputs for all the cheats and unlock all of them.  Yet, after that, one of them was still locked, and the only one that remained is Black Highway, which for some retarded reason doesn't work on PS2.  I did some poking around with various GH data structure viewing tools and found the missing cheat, which unlocks extra Van Halen costumes that can be toggled in the cheats menu, much like the extra Metallica costumes in GH:M.  For what little it matters, the sequence to unlock it is RGBRGBYY.

Van Halen has a great mixture of songs ranging from fairly simple to quite difficult.  Overall, I'm pleased with the difficulty of this game.  After World Tour, Smash Hits, and GH5 having maybe three difficult tracks apiece (notice I didn't mention Metallica, which was actually difficult...), it's nice to have some challenge.

The non-Van Halen songs are pretty good overall.  For a lot of them I had the reaction of "Hey, they included that!  Awesome!".  We're talking songs like Space Truckin' by Deep Purple, Semi-Charmed Life by Third Eye Blind, Master Exploder by Tenacious D, and Best of You by Foo Fighters (ever see the "THE BEST THE BEST THE BEST" meme anywhere on the internet?  This song is what that's referencing).

It's interesting that they included Hot For Teacher, being that it's also in World Tour.  The chart is entirely different, and thus it counts as an entirely new sightread.  The difference of the chart actually caught me off-guard and I had to retry the song to get through the intro.  Whatever.

This time around, the hardest song, without a doubt, is Eruption.  It's one of Van Halen's solos they play at concerts and was a quite popular custom-charted song up until it was included in this game.  It took me 12 tries to pass it, because it took me 12 tries to hit two star power phrases.  Simple as that.  Also apparently the bass part is charted and it has all of 4 notes, with a max score of just over 1300. Too bad the usual method of selecting songs that aren't normally selectable doesn't seem to work on PS2...

Poking around the other menus, the game has mode where it will play each song and let you scroll through the lyrics, and a soundboard mode.  The soundboard mode lets you dial up various sound bytes of Van Halen songs with quick two-button sequences.  It's kind of neat, but mostly overlookable.

The one thing the game does that I don't like is that it has this effect to make it sound like the crowd is singing along with the song as you're playing it.  It sounds incredibly fake, and I'd rather just hear the track I'm playing.  I turned down the Effects volume in the options, but haven't gotten a chance to test it and see if it killed the stupid effect once and for all.

At any rate, if you're into GH/RB, Guitar Hero: Van Halen is worth picking up.  Being that GH is dead, you should be able to find a copy for rather cheap.

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