I'm going to start with one of the most important parts of Guitar Hero games: the songs. The Van Halen songs are really good songs from their career. This game has all of Van Halen's classics, from And the Cradle Will Rock to Jump, from Panama to Eruption in all it's glory. The note tracks for the songs are really well, especially on guitar, where Guitar Hero veterans can really show their stuff. However, even at the best part of the game I am dissatisfied. For one, there just aren't enough Van Halen songs. This is a problem I have with all the GH games based on specific bands. Another big problem with me is that this game only had songs from the David Lee Roth era of Van Halen, and doesn't even mention the 10 years that Sammy Hagar was in the band. Sure, I like DLR's era better, but Hagar had some really nice songs with the band as well, like Poundcake, Right Now, and Why Can't This Be Love.
Now we come to the other non-Van Halen songs, and they pretty much suck. About 90% of the other bands here are either a) horrible bands b) bands totally irrelevant to Van Halen c) both. In Guitar Hero Aerosmith, the other bands were bands that influenced Aerosmith. In Guitar Hero Metallica, the other bands are bands covered by Metallica. In Van Halen the other bands include Weezer, Blink-182, and Offspring. There are the occasional good songs (I Want It All by Queen or Master Exploder by Tenacious D), but they are few and far between.
When I got this game, I couldn't wait to see how they did the story mode and how they made a great representation of Van Halen's career. Maybe they would do like in Beatles Rock Band, where the songs would be in chronological order and follow the band's career. Maybe it would be like in Guitar Hero Aerosmith, where the story mode follows the band's chronological order, but puts the songs in order by difficulty. This was GH: Van Halen's story mode: each set is a random stage with 6 random Van Halen songs. This isn't a story mode, it's an iPod on shuffle. To make matters worse, it doesn't even have any cut scenes in between sets to show you part of their career. Nope, it just dumps you to the next stage. Therefore, this game follows the band's career in no way. Like I mentioned, there was already the Hagar deal. Also, instead of having their standard bassist, Mike Anthony in the game, we instead have Eddie Van Halen's son, Wolfgang for no reason at all.
At this point, you're probably wondering if at least the people in the game LOOK like the people in Van Halen, but again, no. The graphics in this game also suck. The animation is very robotic and un life-like at all. Eddie has the same stupid sneer glued to his face the whole game, and the game does not have the feel of a real Van Halen concert.
The worst part of this game are the bonus features. Their problem? They aren't in the game!!! Aerosmith had interviews with the members of the band. Metallica had pictures of their tours, videos of their tours, and videos of the band in their mo-cap suits, recording themselves for the game. Van Halen has...nothing. The mo-cap was made by the Neversoft Mo-cap Team according the credits, there are no other videos in the game or even pictures! Even the loading screens have nothing interesting to say!
I can say this, however. If you enjoyed Guitar Hero Metallica and Aerosmith NOT because of the story mode, NOT because of how the people on screen looked, NOT because of the bonus features, but just for strumming a plastic guitar, then I have to admit I'd recommend this game to you. It's pretty fun to play. However, I bought this game expecting a cool insight of this band, and instead came out empty-handed. This is why I grade this game so poorly.
I ran out of things to say, so I'm going to make fun of this game using Van Halen songs. This game makes me want to have an Eruption. I Ain't Talking About a good game. This game should be Running with the Devil. After destroying this game with a sledgehammer, I Danced the Night Away. I hope this game Jumps. Off a cliff. all copies of this game should be shipped to Panama. Guitar Hero really got me. Jamie might not be the only one crying. I turned the disc of this game into 5150 pieces. I think I made my point by now.