The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Is it too early for Guitar Hero nostalgia? Seems premature, but we
live in an accelerated culture, and video games move fast. Here we are,
only four years after the release of Harmonix's original PlayStation 2
Guitar Hero title, facing Smash Hits. As the name suggests, it's a
greatest hits compilation of tracks from earlier GH titles, now
featuring the full band play introduced in World Tour.
The title is designed with one thing in mind: creating for revenue
for Activision. This is especially odd in light of the fact that it
feels like something that could be addressed through downloadable
content, as Harmonix has done so well with Rock Band. While my instinct
is to be a curmudgeon, once I dug in, I got caught up again in playing
the songs that taught me what music gaming was all about, like ''Killer
Queen'' or ''Bark at the Moon.'' It's especially edifying to find out
how much fun it is to play old favorites like ''Freya'' by The Sword on
drums. In addition, some of the GH I and II songs that were covers are
now straight from the original masters. While some of the note charts
have been altered (and not always for the better), for the most part
it's great fun.
Smash Hits does absolutely nothing to advance the GH brand in any
way, but if you've long since packed up your PS2 it's a great way to
get your hands on some old-school favorites. You're basically paying
$1.25 per song, which is lower than DLC pricing. Not a bad deal if you
can handle jamming yet another Guitar Hero box into your racks.
I'm a big fan of music games, but I'm frustrated at the seemingly unending flow of Guitar Hero titles coming our way these days. Smash Hits is a nice bookend to the first several entries in the franchise, gathering some of the best songs from the first five games in the series, and releasing them with the full-band treatment seen in World Tour. I was disappointed that so little has been done to polish the user interface and career structure, but the songs in Smash Hits are strong and well charted for play in most cases. Some players will wonder why they're paying full price for a game with far fewer songs than were on World Tour, all of which have been on previous installments in some form, and they'll be justified in their complaint. I, for one, enjoyed my old favorites, but I'm more excited about this genre moving forward than remembering its past.