Not the Same Old Song and Dance, My Friends
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 Aerosmith’s 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 band’s 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 aren’t 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 couldn’t 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 doesn’t become completely evident until you play through the game’s career mode. You will play through Aerosmith’s actual career, visiting several historical venues from the band’s past. Players will also be treated to videos that have members of the band giving insight and commentary into the band’s 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 doesn’t 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 didn’t 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 Tyler’s 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 weren’t 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.
April 15, 2008 – This summer the Guitar Hero franchise will be rocked by a true legend of rock: Aerosmith. And while it would be easy to brush this title aside as a generic Guitar Hero with a catalogue approach, this title looks to be a lot more than your standard Guitar Hero game. Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is changing up the Guitar Hero formula by adding more features and giving fans a completely new Guitar Hero experience.
First off, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith will be the first Guitar Hero game with an actual story. In this title you will be able to play as either one of the band’s two guitar players: Brad Whitford or Joe Perry. Gamers will also be able to play as Tom Hamilton, the band’s bass player. Through the lens of these three guitar players, the player will experience the saga of Aerosmith in a way they never have before. You will be able to experience the band’s ups and downs first-hand, which is pretty exciting. And if you’re a real music history buff like me, then you know that Aerosmith has quite the sordid past, so there will definitely be lots of drama and excitement!
In addition to playing as members of the band, there will also be several opening acts that utilize characters from Guitar Hero III. You will still be able to trick out your characters, but this time they will all have Aerosmith stylized options. There will also be several customization options for when you play as the band members as well, including unlockable guitars that you will be able to use from the rock stars’ personal collections.
And of course we have to talk about the track list. If you think it’s going to be all Aerosmith, then you’re wrong, because Guitar Hero: Aerosmith will feature not only songs from the game’s titular band, but will also feature songs from artists that inspired them. So in addition to Aerosmith standards like “Sweet Emotion” and “Draw the Line,” you’ll also be treated to “I Hate Myself” by Joan Jett and “Dream Police” by Cheap Trick among many others. And while only a few tracks have been confirmed as of this preview, there should be about a dozen non-Aerosmith songs and many more from the band itself, ranging all the way from the band’s humble beginnings in the early seventies to their latest album from 2004.
One thing Aerosmith fans will be very happy about is the faithful recreation of Aerosmith’s signature stage style. All the band members did extensive motion capture work for the game in order to try to recreate their on-stage movements with as much fidelity as possible. Fans will find that signature moves and gestures they might have seen at a live show will remain an integral part of the “show” aspect of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. Oh, and all of those crazy seventies inspired outfits are included in the game as well. Does anyone else remember Stephen Tyler’s infamous black and white striped jumpsuit? Well,if you don’t, it’ll definitely be brought back in this title!
Another thing that Aerosmith fans might enjoy is the many Aerosmith-inspired locations you will be able to perform in. From music video-inspired stages to gigantic real-life venues, there are definitely some great places for you to rock out! And who knows? Maybe one of these venues will look somewhat familiar to the seasoned Aerosmith fan!
All in all, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith looks to be pretty cool. Although it might not have the variety of songs as the previous Guitar Hero games, I think that this more focused approach is a good thing. It allows for a real story to be told through the music, and it doesn’t hurt that the band behind the music produced some of the best American music of all time. Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is definitely one summer game that should not be passed up!