The Phoenix Network:
About  |  Advertise
Adult  |  Moonsigns  |  Band Guide  |  Blogs  |  In Pictures
Puzzles  |  Sports  |  Television  |  Videogames

Review: Guitar Hero: Smash Hits

Guitar Hero does its greatest hits
By RYAN STEWART  |  July 13, 2009
2.5 2.5 Stars


Guitar Hero: Smash Hits | For Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 And PlayStation 2 | Rated T for Teen | Developed by Beenox | Published by Red Octane
When evaluating a new Guitar Hero — or any music-related game — it helps to picture a Venn Diagram consisting of three circles: "Good Songs," "Challenging Songs," and "Songs that are fun to play on plastic instruments." The point where all three circles overlap will ultimately determine whether or not the game is worthy — hopefully, the overlap will include more than half of the entire tracklist. And if there are more than a handful of songs that fall into none of those circles — songs that would be plotted outside of the chart altogether — then something is wrong.

After applying this test to Guitar Hero: Smash Hits, it can be said: GH:SH is an acceptable entry into the GH catalog, even though it brings nothing new to the table. As the name sort-of implies, GH: SH is the gaming equivalent of a "best of." All the songs here have appeared in previous GH games; they're being re-released so that gamers can now experience them in full-band form. These are the original masters of these songs as opposed to the cover versions that dominated the first two Guitar Hero games. Beenox has recharted the guitar parts. But these are still songs you've strummed through before (except for the songs from Guitar Hero Rocks the 80s; nobody played that game). It seems like an odd idea, but it works for those of us who want to wail on "Free Bird" again without having to remove our previous consoles from storage, to say nothing of those who've always wanted to bash along to the punishing drums in Helmet's "Unsung," or do their best imitation of Ozzy on "Bark at the Moon."

Play-wise, Smash Hits is a carbon copy of Guitar Hero: World Tour, meaning the timing is looser than Rock Band's metronomic precision, and the musicality is a hair off as well. The Beenox team's approach to note-charting seems to be "when in doubt, add a third note to that chord!" — but at least it feels as though someone who has picked up a real Gibson Epiphone in the past five years worked on this game (which was more than I could say for GHIII). It's possible I'd never be aware of these things if I had never played Rock Band, but for those of us who have, the difference is noticeable. Compounding this problem: a good chunk of these songs have shown up in Rock Band already.

Beenox continues what Neversoft started two years ago by prioritizing difficulty over musical fidelity. In the past, that's the sort of thing I would have scolded them for, but now I think there's some value in this approach — after all, if both games were identical, there'd be no point for them both to exist. Beenox has figured out how to make each song strenuous and challenging without provoking the despair and plastic-instrument-breaking frustration levels of GHIII. Think of it as "Guitar Hero: Championship Edition"; the designers were wise to unlock every song at the beginning of the game, giving you the option of starting with the tough stuff immediately.

It all comes back to that Venn Diagram. By my count, more than half of the songs fit into at least two of those categories, and the bad, boring songs (like Aerosmith's meandering "Back in the Saddle") can be ignored. Not bad at all.

Related: Guitar Hero: Metallica, The Big Hurt: Broken bones and stripper poles, Game Review: The Beatles: Rock Band, More more >
  Topics: Videogames , Entertainment, Music, Pop and Rock Music,  More more >
  • Share:
  • Share this entry with Facebook
  • Share this entry with Digg
  • Share this entry with Delicious
  • RSS feed
  • Email this article to a friend
  • Print this article
HTML Prohibited
Add Comment

Share this entry with Delicious
  •   INTERVIEW: PATTON OSWALT  |  February 02, 2010
    For someone who came up as part of the "alternative comedy" scene of the 1990s, Patton Oswalt is becoming increasingly mainstream.
  •   LONELY ISLAND  |  January 29, 2010
    This Tuesday, the sixth and final season of Lost will launch onto home screens (ABC; February 2 at 9 pm). When the show last left us, you'll recall, it appeared to have killed off one of the Island's main string pullers, Jacob (Mark Pellegrino), in 2007 while simultaneously detonating a nuclear bomb underneath the Island in 1977.
  •   LOS CAMPESINOS! | ROMANCE IS BORING  |  January 19, 2010
    Toward the end of "In Medias Res," the first song on Los Campesinos!' third album, Gareth Campesinos (the entire Cardiff septet have adopted the surname) asks, "Is this something that would interest you?"
  •   PREP YOURSELF!  |  October 14, 2009
    So the economy sucks, you’re in a miserable rut at work, and you’re not getting any younger. What are you going to do about it?
  •   ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALLZ?  |  September 17, 2009
    These days, thanks to Internet-related information overload, football fans are more educated than ever. So why, exactly, do we need idiotic TV commentators telling us what we already know about how talented Drew Brees and Adrian Peterson are, or that the game all comes down to turnovers?

 See all articles by: RYAN STEWART

RSS Feed of for the most popular articles
 Most Viewed   Most Emailed 

  |  Sign In  |  Register
Phoenix Media/Communications Group:
Copyright © 2010 The Phoenix Media/Communications Group