Guitar Hero: Smash Hits is a game that's easy to summarize, but difficult to evaluate. If you're coming into the game with no concern for the price of entry and just looking for a fun time, you'll have a blast with it. Of course it's the perfect party game, and of course the GH formula is still fun. The only real problem here is that this game is a full-priced, retail package despite the fact that not only are ALL the songs on the setlist from previous Guitar Hero games, but there are only about half as many songs in this game (48) than there were in Guitar Hero: World Tour, which had 86 songs for the same price.
Let us begin with some positives. Yes, all of these songs have been handpicked from previous GH games and declared as "the best" among them. Songs from Guitar Heros 1-3 and Guitar Hero: Rocks the '80s are the only ones to make the cut, but these versions of the songs are ALL master tracks, which is definitely a good bonus. The ability to sing and use drums has also been added to all of the old songs, so you can finally show your vocal prowess on Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out" (my favorite song from the original Guitar Hero). All the songs are available in Quickplay mode from the start, which is a Godsend for these types of games, and a trend that should definitely be continued. This is probably one of the best setlists of any music game on the market right now, but I can't help but feel that it would be much better if it were larger. If you came into the series with Guitar Hero: World Tour, you'll probably be stoked to experience all the awesome old songs, as well.
It's much easier to talk about the negative aspects of Guitar Hero: Smash Hits than the positive. With only 48 old songs, it's really a shame that this wasn't DLC for an existing GH game. It's been becoming more and more obvious over recent years that Activision is becoming the new EA, but now they're starting to surpass the sports gaming giants in terms of sheer shamelessness in milking of franchises. If this were a $30 pack, or a fairly priced download I'd be singing an entirely different tune, but it's not. This big pile of rehashed songs is priced at the same level as many AAA titles that actually feature new material, so it's hard to imagine someone choosing this over the recently released Red Faction: Guerrila, Ghostbusters, or Overlord II.
No existing DLC is compatible with this version of Guitar Hero, and you can't import the songs into World Tour. The lame cartoon cutscenes still pop up every once in a while during Career mode, and GHtunes is still way too hard to use. The only real reason that this game exists is so Activision can have more money, which they will then use to spit out another 50 music games.
There's just not much to say about this game. Yes, it's more Guitar Hero. If you like that, then great, but most people will probably wait for the price to drop before surrendering their wallets to the Activision overlords. This is really the game that represents music game saturation, and I'm pretty sure that the overpriced, plastic-driven peripheral genre is going to grind to a screeching halt before Activision is ready for it (I'm looking at you, DJ Hero and Tony Hawk: Ride). Guitar Hero: Smash Hits is a fun music game with a great setlist, but the price for the old content and lack of any real incentive for purchase other than mic and drum support is a real deal-breaker. Sadly, I don't think this is the end of this kind of cash-in from Activision.
Players:1-4 players (8 online)
Platform(s):Xbox 360 (reviewed), PS3, Wii