|System: Wii, PS2, PS3, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vicarious Visions||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Activision||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 29, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Adam Brown
June 3, 2008 - Who wants to feel like a rock star wailing away on a guitar for a packed audience? The sales numbers for the Guitar Hero franchise tell us this is a fairly commonplace fantasy. Through its first three titles, the Guitar Hero franchise has gone through drastic improvements including adding bass guitar, multiplayer, boss battles, and downloadable songs. While all these additions were great, and added to the overall experience of the game, Guitar Hero continues to innovate and improve upon its already amazingly successful formula.
The last three Guitar Hero games that have been announced all try to innovate on the franchise in their own specific way. On Tour brings players of portable games into the mix, allowing you to be a Guitar Hero no matter where you are, as long as you have your DS handy. Guitar Hero 4 looks to push the full band experience, not unlike Rock Band, having drums and vocals being added to the typical guitar playing we are all accustomed to. Last but not least, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith attempts to provide the ultimate band specific experience for the millions of Aerosmith fans eager to start strumming along like the legendary rockers themselves.
Each of these announced titles have some excellent ideas, but it is Aerosmith that is perhaps the most interesting. Instead of a random experience that has you playing as any number of different bands, Aerosmith focuses the story and gameplay around one specific band. The best way I can describe this is to compare it to a sports title. The previous Guitar Heroes were like playing quick matches only, having you play each game as a random team and character. GH: Aerosmith is like playing through a season mode, where you will get to play as the same team and character throughout a lengthier experience. However, instead of a season, you are playing through the decades-long career of one of the biggest names in music history.
Although the main focus of the game will be Aerosmiths music and history, other bands that have had some influence on them will be included as well. This is handled tastefully, having the other bands being the opening acts for the actual headliners of the title. Sixty percent of the songs in the game will come from Aerosmith, with the remaining forty percent being chosen by the band themselves to complete the experience. At first, you may think the whole track list should be made up of strictly Aerosmith hits, but playing only one bands songs could quickly become repetitive. These non-Aerosmith tunes are pretty varied, and help to break up the Steven Tyler and Joe Perry highlight film that is Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. Most of the included Aerosmith songs will also be master tracks, with the few that arent having been re-recorded by the actual band. These re-recordings are actually done so well, that in the few hours I had with the title, I honestly couldnt tell which songs were the original master tracks, and which ones had been newly redone.
While playing the multiplayer, you may be hard pressed to discern any differences between this title and Guitar Hero III. You will recognize most of the characters and animations are borrowed from its predecessor, except for some nice additions like Run DMC and other mysterious unlockable characters. The full Aerosmith coat of paint doesnt become completely evident until you play through the games career mode. You will play through Aerosmiths actual career, visiting several historical venues from the bands past. Players will also be treated to videos that have members of the band giving insight and commentary into the bands historic and lengthy career.
After receiving a decent amount of backlash over the difficulty level in Guitar Hero III, Aerosmith has taken a slightly more lenient approach than its predecessor. While not completely tangible, you will notice the game is a little easier to progress through. Since Aerosmith is attempting to target a mainstream audience, this reduction in difficulty was necessary and should ensure that any fans of the band should be able to enjoy playing through the title even with no previous Guitar Hero experience. However, this reduction in difficulty doesnt appear to affect the game on its more difficult settings. Hard and Expert difficulties will, thankfully, still challenge the most seasoned of Guitar Hero veterans.
The Wii, PS3, and Xbox 360 versions of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith were all playable at the recent Guitar Hero event. Aerosmith is also slated for release on the PS2, but this version didnt make an appearance, and there was really no explanation for its absence. The Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game, as one would expect, seemed almost like mirror images of one another. However, the Xbox 360 version seemed noticeably more polished than its PS3 counterpart at this stage. Some of the timing seemed slightly off with the PS3 version, and the audiences were still noticeably rough and jagged looking. Fortunately, these are some fairly minor complaints that should get addressed before the game releases in late June. Even with these minor difficulties, both versions managed to do a great job of highlighting the new animations that were motion captured specifically for this title by the actual band themselves. Having Steven Tylers lips moving realistically along with what you are playing is enthralling, and having Tyler and Perry interact during songs helps draws you further into the experience.
The Wii version, while obviously looking decidedly less spectacular than its big brothers, still provided players with a solid experience. It even had a few nice touches that werent included in the other versions of the game. Most notably, since the Wii-mote is fully inserted into the guitar, the guitar will actually vibrate when your star power is available for use. While this may seem like a minor addition, it certainly makes realizing you have star power available much more intuitive. The sound quality of the Wii version was also top notch, sounding almost exactly like its next-generation counterparts.
No matter which system you choose, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith should please both fans of the series and the band. Focusing on one of the most successful and influential bands in history is an interesting move that should provide players with an excellent and centered Guitar Hero experience. With all the non-Aerosmith songs also included, the song list remains varied enough to keep all types of players coming back for more. Whether you are looking at this title as just another Guitar Hero, or as an Aerosmith game, the end result is exactly the same. Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is an excellent and authentic experience that shouldn't be missed by fans of either half of the title.
CCC Freelance Writer