Actual gameplay mechanics remain pretty much as they were in GH5 and almost every GH game that's gone before it, with you strumming on a guitar, banging a drum or wailing into a microphone in time with the music and on-screen notes. If you choose to play as a proper band you'll have one player on lead guitar, another on bass, a third on drums and the final player as vocalist. None of the tracks here are as tough as those in GH5, which is wise considering the game's intended audience, and when playing as a band you can bring failed members back into the performance if you perform well over a short period of time.
Once you've formed your band, named it and selected all the members, it's time to perform gigs at various venues, just as you did in GH5. Performances earn you stars, with the better you do the more you receive as a reward. Stars are used to unlock new venues and progress through your career. Some extra stars can be earned through successfully completing bonus challenges, too, just as you could in GH5. Hopefully you're starting to see our point. This is GH5 in a set of younger clothes.
One area in which Band Hero differs considerably to GH5 is presentation. GH5 toned down the series' trademark garish visuals, but Band Hero is positively bursting with bright lights and neon displays. Lip synching on your chosen vocalist is impressive, the on-stage performances are always lively, and there is a strange joy to be had by sticking together a band of cloned teenage pop stars. Crowds look a little odd, lacking the detail of the band members, but you only really see them for a few moments here and there.
On top of the core game modes there's a quickplay option, leaderboards to keep track of how you compare to the rest of the world and the still impressive GHStudio for making your own tunes. All in all it's an impressive package. There are also a number of exclusive features for 360 and Wii owners, but nothing that will upset PS3 owners too much. Xbox 360 avatars and Wii Miis can be used in the game. Completely unique to the Wii game, just as was the case in GH5, is Roadie Battle, a mode which links two DS consoles to the game, enabling a guitar duel battle mode for four players - two on Wii and two on DS.
Eagle-eyed readers may well have noticed that much of this review bears more than a slight resemblance to the Guitar Hero 5 review I wrote a few months ago. Just like this review, Band Hero is strikingly close to Activision's former release; it's a game that comes across more as GH with a different musical focus, rather than as a new IP in its own right. Band Hero is far from being a bad game, but somewhere along the line it seems the new franchise's focus became a little confused.