Guitar Hero: Aerosmith - Review
By Rory - July 10, 2008
Platforms: PS3, Xbox 360, Wii
Same old song and dance, my friend.
The Guitar Hero franchise was introduced a few years ago and took off almost immediately. The game had players using a guitar peripheral to strum along to familiar songs while hitting the notes descending down the screen. A simple premise, yes, but the incredibly fun and innovative gameplay that Guitar Hero offered was enough to spark a cultural phenomenon. As the fan base quickly grew, so did the demand for a new game. Guitar Hero II was released only a year later and featured not only a more robust track list with a wider variety of songs, but several gameplay improvements as well. Since then one sequel and several spin-offs have been released, with even more in the works as we speak. Unfortunately, we haven't seen any real advancements since Guitar Hero II was released and I hate to say it but the franchise seems to be taking a turn for the worst. Instead of new gameplay elements, greater track lists, improved visuals, etc., each Guitar Hero since II seems to be sticking to a familiar formula in order to crank them out en masse. While those who want nothing more than to get their Guitar Hero fix as soon as they can may appreciate that, fans are quickly growing tired of waiting for something new. Guitar Hero 4 may be what we're all waiting for, but for now we've got Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. Is it a bad game? Not really. Is it the same game we've been playing for years now? Yeah.
Other than the addition of Aerosmith on stage and new venues to play at, the visuals are identical to Guitar Hero III. That's not the worst thing that could happen as GH3's visuals were indeed easy on the eyes, but some enhancements would have been nice. The character models have always been very disproportioned, unrealistic and just plain funny looking, and even with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry thrown into the mix, that still holds true. The animations are the same story; sure it's nice that Tyler and Perry were brought in for motion capture which definitely adds to their characters a little, but everything is still very stiff and doesn't represent their live shows very well.
Once again, the venues all look incredibly unrealistic, as if each one was ripped out of an amusement park. Seeing as they're all supposed to represent actual places now, it would've been nice if they had toned down the theatrics a little and presented them as they really are. It's ok to spice things up, but the look of some of the venues borders on ridiculousness.
The most important part, however, are the fretboard and note indicators, which still look great. They're very clean, sharp and easy to see, and that's all I could ask for. It's just too bad that the rest of the game still looks as goofy as it does. This kind of thing worked well when the franchise was just getting started back on the PlayStation 2, but with next generation hardware, you'd think they would start taking it a little more seriously. Unfortunately, that's going to have to wait.
The music is obviously the most important thing about Guitar Hero, and unlike each full installment, this one is definitely the most lacking. First off, it has by far the least variety of any Guitar Hero game in the past. Now, I know what you're thinking, "The game is called Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, it's obviously going to be all about them". Well, even if that were true it still wouldn't be acceptable. You'll also be playing other virtually unknown songs from "their influences" as you go. The focus is definitely placed on Aerosmith, however, and to be quite honest that's what took the fun out of it for me.
Although I don't dislike them, I'm not a huge fan of Aerosmith. I know about 4-5 songs from them, as most people will. The game is ok for the hardcore fans, but the majority of just plain Guitar Hero fans will find themselves getting tired of playing song after song from Aerosmith, none of which they've heard or care about. Every once in a while the game will kick it up with some 'Sweet Emotion' or 'Walk This Way' and everyone will be having fun again, but then it'll just sink right back down. The only great thing about the track list (other than The Cult) is the fact that it doesn't force you to suffer through 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing'. Yeah, I said it.
Not so close guys, you scare me.
Much like Guitar Hero 3, a minor attempt at a story was made. Guitar Hero: Aerosmith follows the band on their rise to fame. You'll start off at Nipmuc Highschool and make your way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Once again, each venue gets progressively larger and each one shows off a location where Aerosmith has made some sort of mark. In between, you'll see short video interviews from the band talking about their climb to success. Now, seeing as this is a family-oriented game there won't be any talk of drugs, alcohol or sex and is instead all sunshine, unicorns and record deals.
Fans may be saying "Cool, I love Aerosmith. Nothing could be better than playing through their career myself". Believe me when I say that it's not nearly as cool as it may seem, even for fans. Like I said before, this is nothing more than a weak attempt at a story in order to seem like more care has been placed into this game than before. The interviews last about thirty seconds (in-game) and consist of little more than "then one time we played at this place..." It's all incredibly dull and shows almost nothing of the bands history. If Aerosmith themselves don't even care, why should I?
It should go without saying that without a good soundtrack, the gameplay just won't hold up. To a certain degree, this is true. Although the gameplay formula is still just as great as it was before, the music kills a lot of the fun. It's not like each Guitar Hero game hasn't come without its fair share of less than enjoyable tracks, but this time around you're not going to see much of a change with each passing song. This one is all about Aerosmith and as such, you'll be playing their songs over and over and over. If you don't like it from the get-go, it's not going to get much better. There are a few scattered around which do offer a lot of fun, and coincidentally (or not) they're the ones that everyone has heard. Repetitiveness is by far this game's biggest issue. If you're a major Aerosmith fan you'll likely enjoy most of them, and if you're not... well... you won't.
The game plays exactly like Guitar Hero 3 does. You begin by choosing a character from the usual pack and then jumping into career mode. You'll start off at tier one and will have to play two songs from other bands and then three from Aerosmith. Supposedly you're working your way through Aerosmith's career starting from the beginning, but if that's the case it doesn't make much sense that their first song is one from 2007. Beats me. Anyway, you play through each song in a tier to advance and then begin playing songs from the next one. That's how the game works and unfortunately, nothing has been done to liven it up.
Axel never gets tired of playing the hits. I wish I could say the same.
For those who don't know, you play the game by hitting colored notes as they move down the fretboard in the middle of the screen and reach the bottom. As you hit each one, you'll get points. If you miss one, you'll be penalized by receiving a drop on the 'Rock Meter'. Miss too many and you'll go into the red and fail. If you manage to hit the sequenced star-shaped notes without missing any, you'll begin filling up your 'Star Power'. Once your 'Star Power' is full, you can enable it by tilting the guitar or hitting select. You'll then be given a temporary point bonus for each note that you hit. After a song is over, you'll be given a five star rating based on your performance and can then move on to the next.
One major problem is the difficulty. It's too easy. I'm not the best player, as I even had trouble with some GH3 songs while playing on hard. With this game, however, I breezed through expert mode without a single hitch. This will probably be the worst thing about it for experienced players and will make the short career mode even shorter. It doesn't make much sense to make a Guitar Hero game that only hardcore fans would actually spend money on and then make the game too easy for them.
The game features 40 songs (31 of which are featured in career mode). The main tracklist isn't that great and the unlockables only feature minor songs from Aerosmith and Joe Perry. You'll breeze through career mode in a few short hours and will probably have no desire to go back and play it again. The Aerosmith collectibles, such as custom guitars and interview videos are nice for fans, but no one else will care enough to collect them. There is also online play, but it's still very barebones and seeing as though none of the songs are all that fun, it's unlikely that you'll play it for very long. Hardcore Aerosmith fans will definitely want to rent this one as it still offers some decent fun, but I really don't know of anyone who will get $60 worth of entertainment out of this game. Pick up Guitar Hero 3 instead, if you haven't already. Otherwise, hold off until Guitar Hero 4.
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