|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Beenox Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision / RedOctane||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 16, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Guitar Hero: Smash Hits is a compilation of the "best" songs from the original Guitar Hero titles up through Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Adding nothing new to the franchise, what this version does is update those songs to feature band support via your World Tour kit, giving you 48 tunes in the set list that are master tracks. Also, additional difficulty levels, eight new natural wonder-themed venues, and the now standard GH customization tools including the Music Studio, GHTunes, and the Rock Star Creator round out the feature list. With those updates in mind, this is a title for GH players that simply must have full band support - everyone else can easily skip this entry and wait for Guitar Hero 5.
As you can probably imagine, everything you needed to know about this title was encapsulated in the previous paragraph. Of course, here at CheatCC we give short shrift to no title. On that note, Smash Hits' biggest draw is its 48 song set list. These songs are all master tracks of classic Guitar Hero tunes featured in the days when plastic guitar peripherals were the only virtual instruments you had cluttering your living room. While playing through these jams with an entire cadre of friends is an important upgrade, the set list selection is suspect. Sure, taste in music is decidedly subjective, but it's hard to believe "Killer Queen," "Nothin' But A Good Time," and "Cherry Pie" qualify as smash hits. Thankfully, as always, the fidelity of the tunes is of high quality, and the note lanes nicely mimic the appropriate instruments.
Far less compelling are the tweaked classic stages and eight new natural wonder-themed venues. It is true that the characters, crowds, stages, lighting effects, failure animations, etc. all look crisp. However, the visuals aren't really any different than what was featured previously. Besides, does anyone even look at anything other than the note lanes? Maybe just at the artwork on your wall for that franchise-defining, psychedelic effect.
Similarly, all the customization features that players have come to expect from the Guitar Hero franchise have been included, so core players can mess around. These tools include the Rock Star Creator (for playing dolly), the Music Studio (for creating original GH tracks), and GHTunes (to publish, manage, and download user-created music). While I find these aspects to be both powerful and rewarding, the vast majority of players will likely skip this functionality altogether.
What is unquestionably great is the gameplay. Getting all your friends together to strum, drum, and belt out these tunes is a lot of fun. Creating a band and plowing through the career option to open up all the songs, venues, and customization options is still a nice challenge. However, since this title feels a lot like an expansion to Guitar Hero: World Tour, players have thankfully been given the opportunity to skip slogging through the career mode and can play all opened tunes from the get-go.
Players looking for the appropriate skill challenge will be able to select from the easy-to-play-while-catatonic Beginner mode all the way up to Expert (and even Expert+ through unlocks). This wide range of skill levels really allows anyone playing to enjoy the tracks and improve their skills at their own pace.