Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits Hands-On Impressions

We raise the chalice of rock once more in our first hands-on session with Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits.

No doubt as a result of the brand’s meteoric rise to fame, Guitar Hero has evolved into a bit of a video-game industry octopus. Bear with us here. While the core gameplay mechanics in Guitar Hero haven’t changed much between iterations, the financial juggernaut unleashed by its upward spiral in popularity has necessitated its evolution from an amorphous blob into something sprouting several distinctive sub-franchise limbs. First, there’s the guitar-only brand that launched the game, and the format we last saw with Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. Then there’s the mobile version, Guitar Hero: On Tour, which has been specifically designed for the Nintendo DS handheld and takes advantage of a GBA slot peripheral. Next up is the multiplayer-focused band experience of Guitar Hero: World Tour, which launched late last year. The latter took the basic GH solo formula and added drums and vocals to the mix. Last, there’s the track-pack expansion arm of the Guitar Hero family, with GH: Aerosmith, the recently launched GH: Metallica, and the freshly announced Van Halen game, all of which are built around showcasing individual superacts.

History lesson aside, Activision has now found a new way of shaking a few more dollars out of the wallets of Guitar Hero devotees by remixing previous versions of the games. Activision has handpicked a selection of tracks from Guitar Hero, Guitar Hero II, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80s and given them a face-lift. The final game will feature a total of 48 tracks, reworked for World Tour-style gameplay, with recharted difficulty, and, where not already, an upgrade to master tracks by the original artists. They’re a far cry from the WaveGroup covers that accompanied the first Guitar Hero when it launched in late 2005.

Internal Activision studio Beenox, which is probably best known for its PC ports of GUN, Marvel: Ultimate Alliance, and Spider-Man: Friend or Foe, is the team working on Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits (renamed to Guitar Hero: Smash Hits in North America). Our build included eight tracks, two from each of the featured games. The entire track list has now been officially announced, and while we expected to see a fairly even song split between the games, Guitar Hero II sees 19 tracks reworked, with 14 from the original Guitar Hero, six from Guitar Hero: Rocks the 80s, and eight from Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. There’s also a single track from the Aerosmith expansion in “Back in the Saddle.”

Classic characters like Johnny Napalm, Axel Steel, and Judy are back to tour again in Greatest Hits.

Our demo code included a stripped-back version of the career mode with the game’s opening cinematic. Using the series’ now familiar cartoon cutscene art style, the gist seems to be that the previous Guitar Hero characters (Johnny Napalm, Axel Steel, Lars Umlaut, and so on) are being brought back together for some kind of supershow. The speechlessness and over-the-top rock hand gestures made it hard to tell exactly what was going on, but from the looks of it, the career mode centres on playing shows at each of the Seven Wonders of the World. Solo campaigns and two- to four-player band play is supported.

Like in previous Guitar Hero games, you’ll play through the set list as you unlock new tracks, but like in more recent GH games, you’ll need only a predetermined number of stars to progress. You’ll still earn cash for your performance at the end of each song based on your percentage of notes hit and the aptitude of your opening licks amongst other criteria. One change is that rather than purchase all additional content, such as costumes, guitars, and accessories, through a virtual store, you’ll be rewarded with them for achieving solid performances. Our first venue was set in a canyon, and by completing the zone, we unlocked not only the next two playable tracks, but also male and female venue-specific outfits and a canyon-themed note highway. Likewise, completing the Polar IceCap venue gave us access to an IceCap note highway, male and female IceCap outfits, and three new types of strings--Regular Slinky Strings, Power Slinky Strings, and Skinny TopHeavy Bottom Strings--which you can customise on your in-game character’s guitar.

Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits brings back some of your favourite tracks and makes them playable in a full band experience.

The difficulty of Guitar Hero games has ramped considerably since the first title was released, and as a result, the remix sees note tracks for the classic songs brought into line with the current regime. Expect to see some familiar chord combinations like your old buddies the basic yellow and green, the blue and red, and the yellow and orange, but three-note chords and staggered chords are also thrown into the mix at the higher difficulties. “I Love Rock N’ Roll” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts remains almost identical to its original note track, but Queen’s “Killer Queen” deviates slightly, adding new trills and short runs of notes to scoop up amongst the chords. The longer field of view on the note highway than in the original Guitar Hero also makes it easier to hold frets and chords in advance of the need to strum.

The gameplay, audio quality, and graphics of Greatest Hits all appear to be on par with previous Guitar Hero: Metallica and Guitar Hero: World Tour games. Greatest Hits will give Xbox 360 owners a chance to finally play tracks from Rocks the 80s, since the expansion was PlayStation 2 exclusive. The game also gives those who joined the Guitar Hero franchise late a chance to not only play songs from previous iterations of the games, but also do so in a band setting. Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits will be rocking its way onto the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 2 in late June this year. Keep an eye out for our full GameSpot review soon.

Written By

Want the latest news about Guitar Hero: Smash Hits?

Guitar Hero: Smash Hits

Guitar Hero: Smash Hits

Discussion

38 comments
funnysplay
funnysplay

Oh my goodness! NO more guitar hero stuff plz. I have 2, 3 and 4 and they just keep making more and more! Im getting really tired of music games in general. They should just lay of for the next 3 years, and bring out something cool. Oh well thats just me i guess.

afrodudeman123
afrodudeman123

though the fire and the flames is easier in this game iu heard

LIME43
LIME43

RAINING BLOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

C_T_SKYE
C_T_SKYE

that would suck. nobody even really cares about those bands except the only three good ones you put, wich is slipknot, trivium,and as i lay dying.those other bands just scream toooooo much to the point that it sounds no good at all. they try to hard

wareagle887
wareagle887

damn i was thinking the same thing badiie05, which is about every time i play guitar hero or rock band. But you gotta add some August Burns Red to that list, such a game could not be without them. It should be called Guitar Hero: Face Melters

da_vortexx
da_vortexx

@badiie05 im with you buddy. i would absolutely love that game

badiie05
badiie05

i think they should make a guitar hero for hard rockers with bands like; As i Lay Dying, parkway drive, slipknot, BMTH, trivium, probably some suicide silence and all shall perish, inflames....straight hardcore :P lol

J-man45
J-man45

FREE BIRD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

psychoyoshi2009
psychoyoshi2009

I have the song list on a text file! Free Bird made it!

Goriza
Goriza

Avenged Sevenfold can't be out of this game!!!!!!! hauhausahsuahusha

Apiopi
Apiopi

so this is for ps3, ps2 and xbox 360? Not for the Wii? Why?

gstealer
gstealer

Instead of making stupid new title for GH games, and making cash out of it. Make a decent game, every 1/2 years. That will sell a lot more, since you guys only looking for cash, and we will be happy as F@#$ . Cause the game will have *new* songs, new graphics, these graphics sucks! go back to GH:1/2/80's for god sake. And maybe, decent songs! Not those crazy bands that no-one knows! Guitar hero 3 was cool! why? you guys took time to make it. And then, you jumped in a crazy "lets make more more more more" bullS*&¨ . Fans are angry about that, shut up and make a decent game Gh creators.

XboxAmbassador
XboxAmbassador

I would love to sing "Through the Fire and Flames" by Dragonforce, one of my favorite songs, but too bad they were on Guitar Hero, now noobs only know Dragonforce from Guitar Hero. Valley of the Damned all the way!

GtKiNg29
GtKiNg29

GH5 has backwards-compatible DLC, although i don't have any for GH. If you want to buy GH once a year, just buy the main games. Nobody is asking you to buy EVERY game that they release. Me personally, the setlist is the best of any game so far.

henrymagic
henrymagic

I'll buy it just because there's a song by Queen...

D3A7HJ0K3R
D3A7HJ0K3R

i bet soon they'll be makin a disturbed guitar hero and a motorhead guitar hero etc. they should make a quality GH game every 1-3 years instead of milking cash from the franchise

E-i-N-e
E-i-N-e

I like Guitar Hero and all that but now it's just obvious with all the games they are making they are just in it for the cash. Someone said why not just add more songs and not make an entire new game, I agree with them 100%.

Spanishflea12
Spanishflea12

Whoever has the entire series of Guitar Hero is either mentally retarded or just plain stupid. Just different combinations of Red Orange Green Yellow and Blue....Hurray..... Dont buy it.

danyv-009
danyv-009

oh man OH MAN!! can't wait for this! oh god! so cool, so new, so ingenious, so original... man i've fallen in love...

Spuzzy77
Spuzzy77

So basically it's just adding new instruments and making them all master tracks. That's SO worth it. *rolling eyes* Thanks for sticking it to the fans who've been buying the games all along. I blame the artists too, though. After GH 1 was shown to be basically a cash cow, any artists who doesn't allow a master track on the game are dinks.

AJ-2K7
AJ-2K7

oh btw does anyone know when the full tracklist will be out, or if it is, does anyone know the link to it

AJ-2K7
AJ-2K7

Just make it a downloadable update for world tour, and add all the songs characters. even if you have to pay it'd be a better idea because world tour would sell even more copies, and make money off the DLC.

Jshaw71
Jshaw71

i guess i could get this, when the price comes down, but not until then, i think 40 or more is too much to ask for redone songs, even with vocal, and drum playtracks... sometimes i wish actvision would leave summer alone games like rock the 80's and the guitar hero ds games are an eyesore on the perfect series that has been gh...

ultralesus
ultralesus

Activision are on to a win win with this... Guarentee some muppets will buy this, and its not going to cost much to throw together... So they'll be cashing in once again. Still, they would stil cash in if they released it as DLC, and not everyone has internet access so why not do both a disc version and DLC? I was going to get Guitar Hero 5, but personally I might just stick my finger up at Activision and stick with Rock Band because at least DLC is backwards compatiable, and I only have to buy 1 game a year.

bubbalooga
bubbalooga

didn't you hear? activision is of a giant fish-dog variety. Activision (noun): A worthless piece of scum that can be found on the side of the road, it has the qualities of a tapeworm and may drain all your hard earned cash for a mere 10 hours of pity seks or what i like to call, "fun"

shani_boy101
shani_boy101

why can't they just release all pre-world tour songs as DLC and make it free if we have the corresponding game discs? There is no way i'm rebuying these songs just because they've been repackaged in Band mode. If Activision gave a about us they wouldn't make us empty our wallets again for the same songs.

TheMacbeths
TheMacbeths

Releasing the previous tracks as downloadable content for GH:WT (with vocals and drums added) would've been a fair trade. But this new game is exactally what was said: "a new way of shaking a few more dollars out of the wallets of Guitar Hero devotees".

amsscorpio
amsscorpio

yeah fcp remix is pretty much ha perfect song for a band, crazy guitar, bass isnt generic or simple, drums would be really fun, and singing is just awesome honestly they missed ALOT of good songs. i dont see why "hit me with your best shot" should be in there over fcp remix, fcp remix isnt even hardcore or anything, sounds like a punk song that many people can like, hit me with your best shot seems pretty girly and well...not of our era? oh well ill prolly buy it anyway.

zemonstar
zemonstar

wow no jordan or Knights of Cydonia, but they add that poison song -_-

Linkman0714
Linkman0714

no matter wat it is there will be a song missing that someone, somewhere will want in this game. either way ill end up buying it

konradak
konradak

No Jordan? Stricken? At least they got Rage...

thesimpsonsno1
thesimpsonsno1

no before i forget, stricken or the metal from gh3!! :( owell, i still want it

StickRox
StickRox

they should have included F.C.P.R.E.M.I.X. shame they didnt

kingofmphs
kingofmphs

no hanger 18? or life wasted? from gh 2.

pillazz
pillazz

I agree with the Jay Man...they are running out of ideas. Recently releasing a series of inferior live tracks and cruddy bands that no one really wants to listen to on downloadable content is poor to say the least. Rockband are not much better. Start giving us some quality instead of quantity im getting bored!

The_Jay_Man13
The_Jay_Man13

sounds like they're running out of ideas if u ask me, this just looks pathetic, its like a band releasing a greatest hits album when they're only been out for like 3 years

elektrixxx
elektrixxx

So it's only called Smash Hits in the US? Thanks Chippa. I loves me some Guitar Hero.