Game Review: Guitar Hero Smash Hits

ghshMy past experience with the Guitar Hero franchise has been… complicated.

Activision/Red Octane/Neversoft have just released Guitar Hero Smash Hits, a compilation of some of the best music from earlier guitar-only games, but with Guitar Hero World Tour mechanics and parts for guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.

Is the music selection alone enough to change my mind about the franchise?

Find out inside.

Here’s the blunt version of the review: Neversoft has had 5 iterations of the game to get a few SERIOUS issues  ironed out. They’ve done nothing, and the franchise needs to go to a different developer who can handle the job.

That deserves an explanation, so here it goes.

Neversoft took over the reins on GH from Harmonix with Guitar Hero III. The game used a horribly inaccurate ‘calibration’ routine that depended on the player to synch audio and video signals. The SAME technology was used in GH: Aerosmith, GH World Tour, and GH Metallica. In the meantime, Rock Band 2 introduced an auto-calibration system that works flawlessly every time. While this may not be much of an issue for anyone playing on Easy or Medium, on Hard difficulty or higher… it becomes painfully obvious that there is a problem.

I’ve come to expect this little annoyance, and I manually input the lag calibration setting from Rock Band into my Guitar Hero games to get them to work. If you haven’t also got Rock Band? Guess you’re out of luck, or you’re going to spend hours trying to get the thing to track properly.

Another problem has to do with the GH World Tour drum set. Early adopters got a janky, broken kit with sensitivity problems. Activision remedied the problem by sending out a free cable and software package that required you to plug the drum kit into your console AND a PC to set sensitivity.

The problem with their ‘fix’ is that it saves the settings in your save file for the game, and every new GH title requires you to go through the process again. In the meantime, Activision has stopped sending out the cable.

It’s still a problem guys… and it’s YOUR problem, not the consumer’s.

Support for third party hardware has been promised, and the previous games have been patched… but support for the ION drum set is still lacking. Oh sure, it KINDA works. The green pad strikes both orange and green notes at the same time. If the song has a lot of orange notes? You’re going to fail.

At least the Rock Band 1 and 2 kits work, right? While they work, several Trophies and Achievements can only be unlocked if you’re using Official Guitar Hero hardware.

You know, like the one for FINISHING THE F**KING TUTORIAL.

I’m serious, you can’t even use the tutorials properly if you don’t have their busted ass gear.

Harmonix had a problem with hammer-ons and pull-offs in the Original Guitar Hero, but they managed to fix it with the sequel… Neversoft’s entries STILL have problems with them, and picking every single note is the solution I’ve found.

Good luck with ‘Through The Fire And Flames’. I finished it on Hard, I don’t even want to think about it on Expert with their busted legato and lag calibration.


At least this version of the game has fixed some of the glaring miscues in Guitar Hero World Tour’s interface and menus.

In the end, great set list or not, Neversoft has release their THIRD band game and FIFTH guitar game without fixing some fundamental problems. Once I’ll cut you some slack, twice is inexcusable, this many times is sheer negligence and unforgivable.

Unless you’re having fun with one of the earlier titles (not noticing the problems I’m having), this is a game to avoid at all costs.

Shame on you Activision, shame on you Red Octane, and big f**k you to Neversoft. Go back to making skateboard games.

True to our policy, if you REALLY want to punish yourself and reward these knobs for knowingly putting out ANOTHER broken game, the link is below.

Buy Guitar Hero Smash Hits


2 thoughts on “Game Review: Guitar Hero Smash Hits

  1. I disagree with most of the points you’ve stated. Whilst there is no auto-calibrate function on any of the guitar hero games it’s rarely needed anyway , I can complete most songs on expert on all of the games and I don’t have to change my sync at all.

    Another problem is your idea of what’s wrong with the hammerons/pulloffs. In guitar hero 1 and 2 the hammeron/pulloff system was god awful , unresponsive and alot of the time completely off time , in guitar hero 3 this was fixed or at least massively improved , for example My Name is Jonas works like a charm , as does Cult of Personality , two songs completely dependant on the hammerons. Whereas on Rockband not only are the hammerons barely noticable in difference to the normal notes but they’re incredibly unresponsive.

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