|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2||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|
There are a ton of excellent bands out there that would be perfectly suited to have their music featured prominently in a stand-alone Guitar Hero game. The concept is a good one, though it has the potential to alienate players who might not particularly enjoy the group in question. Given the choice, classis rockers Aerosmith would not have been among my first pick of bands for such a venture - my short-list would likely include the Pixies, Dillinger Escape Plan, Sonic Youth, Rush, and perhaps some ridiculous 80's cheese metal bands thrown-in for good measure. Regardless, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is indeed the first of what will hopefully be many more spinoffs in the killer franchise to heavily feature the work of specific artists.
Over three decades of churning out their own brand of blues-inspired rock hits has earned the band its rightful place among the great rockers of our time. It's hard to imagine someone who hasn't at least heard of Aerosmith; it was virtually impossible to escape their tunes, if you happened to listen to the radio or watch MTV in the late 80s and 90s. I was never a hardcore fan, but many of their catchy hits have peripherally chiseled their way into my psyche. A few songs into the game, the reasoning behind the decision to go with Steven Tyler and "the Bad Boys from Boston" as the headlining act becomes increasingly apparent. Simply put, these guys know how to rock.
GH: Aerosmith is not the band's first foray into the realm of video games, but it's easily their best. The group was featured in the 1994 arcade light gun game Revolution X and the rhythm-game Quest for Fame the following year. Neither was particularly noteworthy. The band's integration into Guitar Hero is virtually seamless and, as expected, extremely thorough. From the ridiculously over-the-top stage backdrops and elaborate custom guitars to the band's signature moves and smokin' licks, this game is a must for Aerosmith fans. Fortunately, you don't have to worship the group to be able to appreciate the rock-solid gameplay the title lays out.
The core gameplay from Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock remains virtually untouched. Virtuosos will find plenty of challenge on Expert, but the overall difficulty level has been scaled back from Legends of Rock. This might be disappointing to the few souls on earth who can survive Through the Fire and the Flames on Expert, but it's less of a punch in the face to the rest of us. Any other noticeable differences are primarily cosmetic, though the track listing and structure does divert slightly from the standard formula. The six tiers set in various venues from the band's past each features two non-Aerosmith tracks performed by the stock opening band (now featuring a second guitarist). Once the stage is warmed up, Aerosmith pops up with great fanfare to rock through two songs and an encore before moving on to the next venue. Thankfully, there's only a single guitar battle in the entire game.
There are 31 songs in the Career Mode and 10 bonus unlockable songs in the vault. The bulk of the tracks are comprised of a decent mixture of classic and lesser-known Aerosmith tunes. Hits like Sweet Emotion, Dream On, Livin' On the Edge, and Walk This Way (with Run DMC) pack-in the nostalgia factor, while other oldies like Toys in the Attic, Pandora's Box, and Kings and Queens are fun and challenging to play. All the band's songs are engaging, thanks to lead guitarist Joe Perry's penchant for lots of frequent chord changes and fast-paced rifts. The other groups featured in the game were hand picked by the band. The tracks by Cheap Trick, Ted Nugent, The Cult, Joan Jett, and a few others are good, but the overall selection and variety is rather poor.