^hahahaha, Puddle is just being blunty honest
To give you a bit more in depth answer, they are quite different from each other. If you were to rate the exercises from Level 1 to Level 5, Level 1 being something like a remedial exercise or working on balance and level 5 being the absolute best choice as far muscle recruitment, work, etcetera. The hack squat and leg press would be a Level 3 and the barbell squat would be a Level 5.
A lot of people shy away from squats because they are an intense exercise and take time to master, so don't beat yourself up over it, but you do need to grow a pair and block out the discomfort. The "pain" will go away, I see guys that use the manpon on the bar and are 20 pounds bigger than me and sit there titter-tottering with just 185lbs on the bar-- why? Because they never took the time to master the squat, be a man and lift some heavy ass weight, and are just pansies in general. You will set yourself apart in 90% of the gyms out there if you learn to squat correctly with consistency.
As far as the neck pain, try moving the bar down a little bit so it sits on the wider part of your back/shoulders, this will spread out the load across your back instead of just sitting on your tiny neck and trap muscles. If you're serious about learning the squat check out "Squat Rx" on YouTube. Good luck and have fun learning.
EDIT: Sorry RT and Krash, your posts where not there when I posted. I guess the more info the merrier...