Guitar Hero has gone a separate route from Rock Band over the years, releasing game after game rather than creating a comprehensive music catalogue of DLC. Because of this, Guitar Hero fans have amassed quite the library of discs containing some of their favorite songs. In an attempt to update and consolidate some of the “greatest hits” previously featured in the games, Activision has released Guitar Hero Smash Hits. Is it worth picking up in order to save yourself the extra trouble of changing out discs when ready to play a different tracklist, or is it more of the same that we’re used to?
WHAT YOU’LL LIKE
I Wanna Rock: Familiar Guitar Hero Tracks
If you missed out on the previous installments of the Guitar Hero series, then some of what many consider the “smash hits” of the franchise are here for you to discover for the very first time. Or, if you’ve purchased every single game down the line, you can listen to them again. Some of the very best tracks from the series are here, though of course that is quite subjective depending on your taste in music. You’ve got noise (”Through the Fire and Flames”), classics (”More Than A Feeling”), pop rock (”Take Me Out” – a personal favorite), and fan-favorites (”Less Talk More Rokk”). Each track spans the expansive Guitar Hero history, so chances are at least one or two of your favorites from each game is represented here. You should be able to find at least a couple songs that strike your fancy, no matter what kind of tunes you typically listen to. Yep, these are the exact same songs that you’ve heard before. Take that as you will.
Play With Me: Full Band Play
Because the Guitar Hero series was initially meant to simulate the guitar rather than the full band experience, these retreads are now equipped with the option to accommodate your Guitar Hero World Tour instruments. Don’t feel like singing? Pick up a guitar. Fingers sore? Drum up a storm. The option to perform with other instruments is a welcome addition, and will likely please gamers who have issues passing songs when using only one mandatory control option. This is a welcome change for those who have purchased the whole shebang and have no other use for the peripherals other than some interchangable Rock Band action. They’ve even implemented new note paths, as well as the tapping introduced with the GHWT guitar, so in essence you’re playing a retro version of World Tour.
Stellar: Master Recordings
NO MORE of those shoddy cover songs we were subjected through when Harmonix handled the games. Now you can enjoy the classics the way that you were always meant to. Yes, I cried tears of blood when I heard that awful cover of “Bark at the Moon” in the original game as well. You are not alone. Activision has ensured that you’ll never have to listen to any terrible singing again as long as you’re playing Smash Hits. Well, you’ll have to listen to your own, but that’s quite out of their hands.
WHAT YOU WON’T LIKE
Caught in a Mosh: Lackluster Track List
While Activision claims that these songs are the creme de la creme of the Guitar Hero franchise, I beg to differ. I hardly consider Jane’s Addiction’s “Stop” a staple of the series, nor do I find “Lay Down” from Priestess absolutely necessary. While of course it depends on each individual who purchases the game, it seems as though sacrifices were made to include songs that gamers who enjoy certain genres would like rather than more mainstream tracks. Why were lesser-known songs included rather than familiar treats such as “Ziggy Stardust” or even “Possum Kingdom”? This is a personal beef I have with the game, but I’m sure there are others out there who must be wondering where some of the beloved bonus songs or other parts of the setlists are. It seems pointless to create a greatest hits game and market it as a full game rather than just full-featured DLC.
Stop!: Please, No More Rehashes
Smash Hits is almost the very definition of what it means to milk a franchise until it simply can’t give any more. If Activision is determined to create more Guitar Hero titles, then it would be appreciated if future titles weren’t the same games over and over with barely noticeable changes and new songs. It’s getting old.
Altered Star Paths
If you were a fan of how the songs were originally mapped out in the previous games, prepare to be disappointed. Songs have been changed in order to suit the new World Tour playstyle. You’ll now be subjected to tap bass and several alterations to familiar songs. In some cases, songs may appear to be just a tad bit easier than you remember them. Some may enjoy the fact that these changes have been made, but I just can’t appreciate them.
Guitar Hero Smash Hits is the exact same experience you’ll find in all the previous games, plain and simple, only with altered star paths and the addition of the option to play with a full band. If you simply must have some of the widely-considered “classic” Guitar Hero songs at your disposable on one disc, then pick this up. If you’re a seasoned veteran looking for a game to broaden your music game horizons, then you may wanna pass it up, simply because it’s another rehash of songs you’ve already played before. Yet another way to milk the cash cow. I’m thinking it’s time for some beef jerky.