Guitar Hero is one of those games that eventually becomes hard to review. Every few months, we end up getting a new addition to the genre and series. With Guitar Hero: World Tour, Metallica and Aerosmith all releasing in the last year, not to mention all of the Rock Bands, it’s hard for one iteration to stand out from the crowd. Instead of having a fully detailed review of the game mechanics and whatnot, we’ll just cover the new content and additions that Smash Hits brings to the series.
Guitar Hero: Smash Hits groups together all of the fan favorites from GH: 1, 2 and 3 as well as GH: 80’s and Aerosmith for a total of 48 songs. All songs are sung by the original groups and can now be played with the bass or drums, and even be sung.
The story in GH: Smash Hits is all new as well. The God of Rock approaches you and your bandmates, and asks that you leave behind your money and your mansions for the chance to come out and perform again. There are seven different venues to perform in, and all of them have the charm the previous games had.
The game plays exactly like you would expect a Guitar Hero game to play. If you never have played one before, the concept is quite simple. You have to hold the color buttons on the guitar and strum in rhythm with the buttons on the screen. This concept is easy to learn but hard to master, which is precisely why the series is so popular to begin with.
The create-a-character feature is also included in this version. From hair to tattoos, and everything in between, the options are pretty much endless. Also included in this version is the create-a-song option, which will put your music writing skills to the test. Create it, play it, and then share it with the world on the online store. Even though most custom songs tend to be pretty bad, you can still find some gems if you look hard enough.
The visuals are just as cheesy and bad as prior entries in the series. The characters move in a rigid manner, and walk the ‘uncanny valley’ with style and aplomb (i.e. they look really freaky). With the create-a-character feature, you can add more entertaining looking characters than what’s provided. But in general, you can tell the visuals were not much of a concern when they made this game.
The most important part though is the sound, and every song is done wonderfully. All songs are derived from the master tracks, and sung by the original artist. This is a nice change from previous Guitar Hero titles, which relied on what were essentially covers of the original songs. The online features are pretty decent, having you compete in either Face-Off or Pro Face-Off against a single player. And if you have some friends around, you and your group can compete against other bands. The only thing that holds it back are the occasional online connection issues.
What’s sad though is that the track list has less than 50 songs, which is almost 30 less than some of the older games. Since all of these songs are from older Guitar Hero’s, the developer felt compelled to reorganize the button layouts. And unfortunately, not all of the reworked note patterns work well. And since the song list is made up of tracks from previous games, the only draw of Smash Hits is being able to play through the master versions rather than covers. Also, a big problem is that there’s absolutely no access to the PlayStation Store through this game.
Overall Guitar Hero: Smash Hits is a well done game. All of the features from the previous games are included and the online play, as always, is well done. What really is the determining factor for this game is how much you have played it in the past. If you’re new to the series this isn’t a bad choice, but the lack of access to the PS Store is a glaring mishap. If you are a veteran to the series then this brings absolutely nothing new to the series and really is a waste of money. Also, you can always pick up the older games for a lot cheaper.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Online is fun, though has the occasional connection error.
Uses master tracks for each song, but the roster itself is a bit small.