Video Game Review: ‘Guitar Hero: Smash Hits’ a Memorable Diversion Between Major Releases

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CHICAGO – How do you judge a game like “Guitar Hero: Smash Hits”? Like a greatest hits collection for a respected artist, the actual content of the title is sure to give fans what they’re looking for with hours of entertainment. Only when you look deeper at the decisions made in the production of the game and the delivery of its content does “Smash Hits” begin to frustrate. Video Game Rating: 3.5/5.0
Video Game Rating: 3.5/5.0

To tide fans over between the great “Guitar Hero: Metallica” and the anticipated “Guitar Hero 5,” Activision and Beenox Studios went back and remastered some of the best tracks from their first five games - “Guitar Hero,” “Guitar Hero II,” “Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the ’80s,” “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock,” and “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith”. All of the 48 chosen ones have been remastered for the entire band approach that started with “Guitar Hero: World Tour”.

Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Photo credit: Activision

On one hand, many people who purchase “Guitar Hero: Smash Hits” will have played through all of these songs before, but many were cover versions in their original edition and all have not only been given drum and vocal tracks but had their guitar and bass tracks modified. As someone who played Living Colour’s “Cult of Personality” ad nauseam in “Guitar Hero III,” I can tell you that the version in “Smash Hits” is slightly different.

Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Photo credit: Activision

The key word in that last sentence is “slightly”. Even though these tracks sound better than ever and can now get the whole family into one gaming experience, the inescapable fact is that the “Guitar Hero” franchise is missing the mark when it comes to content delivery of songs that are still essentially repeats for a lot of players.

We all know that downloadable content is a major part of the future of gaming but the “Guitar Hero” franchise seems hesitant to embrace the world of DLC. With so many people paying for individual songs, track packs, or even full albums, why not make the greatest hits of “Guitar Hero“‘s past available without the purchase price of a whole new game? Imagine if fans could add their favorite greatest hits to “World Tour,” making a more complete experience with every purchase.

And what’s even more frustrating is the refusal to make the games easier to merge. Each “Rock Band” track pack and even the songs from the original game can be merged into one title via DLC. It’s bad enough that I have to switch discs between “World Tour” and “Metallica” in order to keep up with current DLC, but to add a third title to the mix is insane, especially when one considers that the graphics and content are essentially the same. Would it have been that hard to allow downloaded songs to be played in the “Smash Hits” experience?

Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Photo credit: Activision

Despite all my misgivings about how “Smash Hits” is being released, what the title offers from a purely entertaining standpoint can’t be denied. It’s a good music game, better than “World Tour” but slightly down from the best title yet released under the “GH” banner, “Guitar Hero: Metallica”. It’s a nice place holder until “Guitar Hero 5” comes out. I just wish the loyal fans of this franchise had more say in how they put it into their personal rotation.

Track List:

Songs from “Guitar Hero” - “Bark at the Moon” by Ozzy Osbourne, “Cowboys From Hell” by Pantera, “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult, “Hey You” by The Exies, “Killer Queen” by Queen, “More Than a Feeling” by Boston, “No One Knows” by Queens of the Stone Age, “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple, “Stellar” by Incubus, “Take It Off” by The Donnas, “Take Me Out” by Franz Ferdinand, “Thunder Kiss ‘65” by White Zombie, “Unsung” by Helmet, and “I Love Rock ‘n Roll” by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

Songs from “Guitar Hero II” - “Beast and the Harlot” by Avenged Sevenfold, “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas, “Cherry Pie” by Warrant, “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Freya” by The Sword, “Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana, “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine, “Laid to Rest” by Lamb of God, “Message in a Bottle” by The Police, “Monkey Wrench” by Foo Fighters, “Mother” by Danzig, “Psychobilly Freakout” by Reverend Horton Heat, “Shout at the Devil” by Motley Crue, “Stop!” by Jane’s Addiction, “Them Bones” by Alice in Chains, “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart” by Stone Temple Pilots, “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden, “Woman” by Wolfmother, and “YYZ” by Rush.

Songs from “Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s” - “Caught in a Mosh” by Anthrax, “Electric Eye” by Judas Priest, “I Wanna Rock” by Twisted Sister, “Nothin’ but a Good Time” by Poison, “Play With Me” by Extreme,” and “Round and Round” by Ratt.

Songs from “Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock” - “Barracuda” by Heart, “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar, “Lay Down” by Priestess, “Miss Murder” by AFI, “Raining Blood” by Slayer, “Rock and Roll All Nite” by Kiss, and “Through the Fire and Flames” by DragonForce.

Song from “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” - “Back in the Saddle” by Aerosmith.

‘Guitar Hero: Smash Hits’ was released by Activision and developed by Beenox Studios. It is rated T (Teen). The version reviewed was for the PS3 but the title is also available for the Xbox 360, Wii, and PS2. It was released on June 16th, 2009. content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

everquest platinum's picture

Yeah right

I agree with you, they should now be considering DLC, that’s really annoying ‘coz you have to switch disc everytime you want to play a certain music. If they want us to continue supporting their product, maybe it’s time to give us some consideration that is more convenient. I’m sure Guitar Hero will rock more than Everquest or any other MMORPG as soon as they embrace DLC technology, right?

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