Amazon GHVHNeversoft and Activision did something very cool in these tough economic times and offered Guitar Hero Van Halen free to those that purchased Guitar Hero 5 prior to Oct. 1, 2009. As a free game, GHVH is another excellent addition to the franchise, but is it worth paying for?

Better tunes, better calibration: The hard rocking set list of 44 songs clearly outshine GH5’s tracks and that is the single make-or-break factor of all rhythm games. Additionally, the World Tour style instrument calibration is back instead of the awful experimental settings offered in GH5.

Lookin’ good: The avatars stage antics of Diamond David Lee Roth, Eddie Van Halen, and Alex Van Halen came out great. As you rock out on classics like “Beautiful Girls” and “Feel Your Love Tonight,” the game offers current day depictions as well as the 80’s style (see game trailer below).

Only buy if half-price: However, GHVH has several shortcomings that would have kept me from purchasing the game at full market value. You can tell that more effort and care was put into GH:Metallica than this game in terms of stage setups and overall band culture, as only half of VH’s career is accounted for. Therefore, I would only buy this if it is $29.99 or less.

You can’t do that: Furthermore, Van Halen had the audacity to leave Michael Anthony out of the game and then ignores the Sammy Hagar years all together (lack of Gary Cherone not a big deal). Instead of Anthony on bass, we are stuck with Eddie Van Halen’s chubby teen son Wolfgang, who has yet to record a classic album. It is very awkward to see Wolfgang in the band when the setting is the early 80’s. But I did hear somewhere that Wolfgang selected most of the non-VH tracks.

Crowd overkill: One thing that this game does different is the crowd participates and sings along with the hooks and choruses. At first, the increased audience participation took me by surprise and threw me slightly off my drum rocker. It turns out to be overkill because every track from “Panama” to “The Best of Me” by the Foo Fighters contains this feature.

3.5 StarsThis game is worth it for early Van Halen die-hards at full market price of $49.99, worth it for fans of the franchise if at half price, and worth it for everybody if free. Unfortunately the USA has limits on the practice of price discrimination -Meds

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