Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits (Xbox 360)
There’s only one question to answer. Is Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits a bridge too far?
When Guitar Hero: Rocks The 80’s was released a few years back, pretty much everyone had their suspicions over what was coming. It took a while, but as soon as Activision deviated from the tried and tested route of “improve game, release sequel” with Guitar Hero: Aerosmith and a few hundred thousand of us drunk the Kool-Aid, the path had been laid.
And so we have Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits, a compilation of all the “best” tracks from the first three Guitar Hero titles (and the aforementioned Rocks The 80’s set) – laid out so that groups of players can play them in the band format from Guitar Hero: World Tour. What’s that? It would have been a grand idea to release these songs as downloadable content for that game, and forgo the whole new game release thing? I quite agree.
While we’re talking about downloadable tracks, Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits doesn’t have ANY – other than via GHTunes. When I say that, I mean that the songs you’ve already purchased for World Tour are NOT compatible with the game. You can leech all of the player-made (and therefore pretty dire) GHTunes tracks as you want, but that’s your lot. Oh, and you can’t export the tracks from Greatest Hits to be able to play them in World Tour, either. So, that setlist of Beat It, Killing in the Name Of and Through the Fire and the Flames will have to wait for a title that’s probably already just been added to Activision’s whiteboard for 2010.
In short, Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits is a standalone title. You load it up, you make a band, and you play the songs until you’re done. The career mode is far more balanced than the one featured in Guitar Hero: Metallica, and is all the better and more challenging for it. Whilst you still have to obtain a certain amount of stars on each level, you no longer will be able to unlock the entire game just by blasting through four or five songs. This is a bonus, and whilst it may sound like I’m wailing on the game, there are times when it feels like you’re playing the greatest game in the world. Those times generally occur whilst you’re drumming through Freebird, hitting the bass once again on Killing in the Name Of or doing your damndest to belt out the vocals to Round and Round. The songs make the title here, and that is the entire point of it all. Activision didn’t release this so that folks would buy it because of some massive new addition or game mode, oh no. They released this so that when the rose-tinted spectacles came out and everyone remembered exactly how much fun they had playing the first few games of the series, they’d put their hand in their pocket once again to try and replicate it with the full band set-up. The addition of the “Expert+” drum mode to selected tracks – by no means all of them – will pull a few lone drummers in, too.
However, that doesn’t mean that a full-price release was warranted. If you’ve been all over the series since the first PS2 release, and bought new guitars and equipment for each new version, you’re probably out £500. It would have been nice for Activision to realise this and to actually REWARD the fanbase, rather than raising two fingers to them whilst chanting “If you want it, you’ll have to PAY for it, bitches!” To an extent, that would be fine, but as with all of these games, each player will only generally be a fan of – or want to play – thirty to forty percent of the on-disc tracks, with the rest being regarded as filler content. The same goes, here. Sure, it’s awesome to be able to try my hand at Freebird without having to boot Guitar Hero II, but since I’m not a fan of Anthrax persay, their track doesn’t attract me in the least.
When all is said and done, new players will get a kick out of playing tracks that are new to them and old players will get a kick out of playing tracks that are familiar to them. It would be advisable that they don’t view the game as anything more than relatively overpriced downloadable content is all, since as a retail release, Guitar Hero: Greatest Hits is only worth half of the asking price at a push