Guitar Hero: Smash Hits is the kind of game that irks you when you buy it.
You know. You're standing in line at the store thinking, "Man, why am I paying full price?"
And you would be thinking that because 1.) you're paying full price, $39.99 to $59.99 depending on the system, and 2.) you paid full price for all these songs on previous Guitar Hero games.
Still, it's a nice concept.
Activision took some of the best songs from the previous Guitar Hero games, which were guitar-only, and have reprogrammed them to include vocal and drum tracks.
But full price? How about half-price, even two-thirds?
At least the song list is great.
We're talking Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird, Blue Öyster Cult's Godzilla, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts' I Love Rock 'n' Roll, and my personal favorite, Queen's Killer Queen.
Activision also has tweaked the vocal scoring system from the company's first such effort on Guitar Hero: World Tour. That one was just impossible to comprehend how you received a certain score. Now the game uses phrases like "excellent" instead.
The Guitar Hero games continue to be plagued, though, by some annoying interface issues. The length of time that "star power" can boost your performance is not nearly as intuitive as the comparable "overdrive" in Rock Band. In fact, while I was playing with a friend, he repeatedly was shouting at the game because the timing of the star power system made no sense.
Meanwhile, I'm shouting at the game because the visual design of the song lyrics is nowhere near as smooth as Rock Band vocals. They just seem difficult to follow and time properly.
The game also allows for only a six-song set list, which turned out to be more than enough because, upon completion of AFI's Miss Murder, my friend asked, "Can't we put this away and just play Rock Band?"
Maybe more of the kinks will be worked out by the time Guitar Hero 5 emerges.