Ever since Guitar Hero first graced our Playstation 2’s a few years back, the music video-game genre has never been the same. In a genre that was once dominated by the likes of Beatmania and Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero has expanded into one of the most recognizable brands on the planet; not just in the video-game industry, but also in the entertainment industry as a whole. There’s also Rock Band, which has developed a strong niche audience with its indie and lesser known track listings and slightly different gameplay. Since the first Guitar Hero, we’ve been subjected to nearly 20 titles across both franchises – with several average spin-offs in Guitar Hero Aerosmith and Rock the 80s – and with the latest entry in Guitar Hero Greatest Hits, we get the best of some of the earlier Guitar Hero games. But does this latest addition justify an encore?
The track list in Guitar Hero Greatest Hits is surprisingly solid. In fact, it’s actually pretty damn good. You get the best tracks, as voted by the fans, from Guitar Hero 1, 2, 3, GH: Rock the ’80s and GH: Aerosmith. All of the most memorable from all of those games are included, so it was a successful formula and one that eventually led to a very impressive song offering.
There was always going to be one thing holding this title back from the beginning, and that’s the fact that we’ve all played these songs before. Granted, they are all master recordings this time round, but if you’re a diehard Guitar Hero fan, you may not get much out of the track list, no matter how impressive it is as an overall collection. There’s definitely a feeling that this is a money-grabbing title; a game that is used to hold the door open before the much-anticipated releases of Guitar Hero V and DJ Hero. No one expects this game to fly off shelves, but it is still a worthy purchase for anyone who is new to the franchise and wants to get the absolute best out of each game in the series. Instead of forking out the cash for every single title, Greatest Hits will subject you to the best-of-the-best, as well as allowing you to get the full band experience with each of the tracks. Some the songs included really dictate the use of the drum-kit or you screaming your lungs out on the microphone, and that’s definitely something that may persuade Guitar Hero diehards to fork out for the discounted title.
Even still, the experience will still feel like a rehash for experienced Guitar Hero players and it’s quite mind-boggling why the full-band experience couldn’t have just been made as DLC for World Tour or the upcoming Guitar Hero V. Greatest Hits can definitely be bundled with the likes of Aerosmith and Rock the 80s as titles that would have been better off as downloadable expansion packs rather than full games.
The main career mode is set-up just like Guitar Hero: Metallica’s as opposed to World Tour’s, where you progress through tracklistings to unlock new songs and their corresponding arena’s by fulfilling the required number of stars. You’ll start off with five or six songs at your disposal, with your performance dictating how many stars you get. Once you get the required number of stars, you unlock the new round of songs. The devilishly hard Expert+ mode is also included from GH: Metallica, which allows you to use an extra drum pedal with the drum kit.
It’s good that you can beat the game without having completed every single song, just like in GH: Metallica. You can easily reach the star requirements with having only played 50% of the available songs, which is great if there are particular songs you just downright suck at or have no real interest in playing. GH: Metallica had incredibly low star requirements, making progression quite easy (once you get through the super hard songs), but Greatest Hits’ have been slightly improved, making the overall experience slightly more challenging than its predecessor, while still allowing you to skip over songs you don’t like.
This is countered by the fact that some songs can be a little too easy. With the implementation of the full-band experience and the use of the strumming touch-pad on the new guitar, you would think that guitar solos would have that extra touch of difficulty that was missing before the guitar was introduced with World Tour. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The solos may as well have been left untouched, as you can still easily play through them without using the touch-pad. In World Tour, the game really dictated the use of the pad, because the notes were placed so close together to accurately portray the sound being played. However, the solos in Greatest Hits can just be played normally and you’re never punished for not having used the pad. In World Tour, the solos were hard enough that you had to use the pad. This time round, it’s a matter of personal choice. That’s a major letdown.
There are some changes in the note structures, most obvious in tracks from Guitar Hero 1 and 2. This will disappoint those of you who have memorized songs from those games and can play them with your eyes closed. Maybe this was done to better incorporate the full band experience or master recordings, but some tracks feel completely different to play. In some instances, the notes seem to have no connection to the actual song of the track at all, which is a real letdown. This was a problem in both World Tour and Guitar Hero III, and while it seemed to have been improved in GH: Metallica, the development team has gone down the path again with some disappointing note implementation. It really takes away the realism from the experience.
Still, these shortcomings don’t take much away from the overall Guitar Hero experience. There’s still plenty of fun to have, even if you’re familiar with all of the songs. This is definitely a game better suited to gamers who are inexperienced with the franchise, but the master recordings and implementation of the full band experience add a bit of worth to the title.
Guitar Hero Greatest Hits has a great track list, but there’s the feeling that it would have been better off merely as a downloadable expansion pack for its predecessors. The direction of the career mode can be applauded, as it’s worked well here as it did in GH: Metallica. It’s great to play some of the classics from the first few Guitar Hero games using the drums and microphone and the inclusion of Expert+ is a great one. There are a few problems with the note structures and overall the gameplay is too easy at times. Still, the title is worthy of a purchase if you’re new to the franchise and need a quick introduction before Guitar Hero V hits shelves.
We’ve played these songs before, but it’s still good to get the full band experience with them. Lack of difficulty brings the gameplay down overall. Expert+ is a great inclusion.
Typical Guitar Hero visuals and presentation.
Great track list, with all of the best songs from the first five Guitar Hero games. Some note structure issues are disappointing.
Decent career experience and the same old multiplayer modes. Band experience adds a bit of replayability to the title. You might lack the incentive to play through each song with each instrument if you’re already familiar with each song from earlier titles.