Guitar Hero: Smash Hits
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2009-06-30 Xbox 360 Music/Rhythm T (Teen) Activision / RedOctane / Beenox Studios

There's no better way to describe Guitar Hero Smash Hits (or Guitar Hero Greatest Hits in Europe) than as a compilation of songs from the previous titles now with the multiplayer band mechanics. Smash Hits includes titles from Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero II, Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80s and Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Plus one (yes, only one) song from Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. And all of them are master recordings too.

Guitar Hero Smash Hits incorporates features from several GH titles. As usual, we have Career for each instrument and Quickplay (up to 6 songs in a mini-playlist), but a lot of these features are based on World Tour mechanics. We have Head to Head for vocals, guitar and drums, with three modes: Face-off, Pro Face-off (both for all instruments) and Battle (for guitar and bass only). You can hop on Xbox Live for some multiplayer, either in Band Quickplay, Band Career or 8-player Band vs. Band. And of course, there is the band creator, rock star creator, music studio and GHTunes.

Also from World Tour, there is the Beginner mode, and from GH Metallica we also have Expert+ for those of you who are coordinated enough to use two drum kick pedals.

With a very confusing cartoon-like story opening sequence, you find that all the characters you know from the franchise are back to play in some sort of uber world tour (that's about all I gathered from watching the intro).

The venues in the game are now based on the Wonders of the World, so you will play in the Amazon, the Grand Canyon or the Polar Ice Caps and even unlock specific outfits and note "highways" for each theme. Costumes, accessories and guitars are all unlocked based on your performance, so you don't really have to purchase them as usually at the store.

As for the note patterns, I have to say the difficulty bar has been raised yet again, and this is particularly noticeable with the songs from the original Guitar Hero. Some of them are still similar to the original note patterns, but with some twists, while other songs are completely different. But the note "highway" is now longer than it was back then, so you can see the notes coming earlier, which allows you to perform better - or get even more confused when those notes start scrolling faster and faster like I do.

One advantage is that the game contains tracks from the original Guitar Hero and GH: Rocks the 80s, which were PS2 exclusives, so now GH fans and Xbox 360 owners can enjoy those songs as well. However, this could have easily been released as downloadable content instead of a stand-alone, full price retail title.

While Guitar Hero Smash Hits has a pretty solid combination of "fan-favorite" tracks from previous titles, boasting about these being "the most memorable", and adds the fun of band gameplay to the mix, I find that it's more enjoyable for me to fetch either of those games just to play my own favorites. Either that or go back to GH: Metallica which is by far my favorite GH title.

Special thanks to Natalie Salzman and RedOctane for providing a copy of this title.