Guitar Hero: Aerosmith
Activision puts the spotlight on the rockers from Boston.
360, PS3, Wii, PS2
It's a truism of the videogame industry that good ideas don't exist long in isolation. Like bacteria expanding on a Petri dish, an original concept quickly leads to clones from cash-hungry publishers. Activision has been taking notes. Last year's Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock was the first game to be published by the company but anyone who has paid attention to the company's goings on over the past few months will know that there is much more coming our way, starting with this week's Guitar Hero: Aerosmith.
Technically, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is right up there with its forebear, borrowing everything from that game's roster of characters to the heads-up-display that adorns the screen. What differentiates it from previous games in the series is the focus on the band itself. Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and the other 50-something group members show up in actual and virtual form, retelling the story of the band's rise to fame, a tale that that sees them (and you) go from Nipmuc High School to the Super Bowl Half-Time show and beyond. Think of it as an episode of VH1's Behind the Music, albeit one with more hurried editing and broken up by playable bits.
As you'd expect, the bulk of the track list is composed of songs by Aerosmith, which is either good or bad news, depending on your knowledge of or interest in the headliners. The song selection spans the group's 38-year history, touching on hits such as Love in an Elevator and Livin' on the Edge to some real oldies, including Uncle Salty and Dream On. There's a fair amount for the non-fan, including the fantastic All Day and All of the Night by The Kinks and King of Rock by Run DMC, but frankly it's hard to recommend the game if you have an active disliking of the marquee band.
Much like in Guitar Hero III, the Easy mode is barely taxing in Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, which helps you develop confidence as you learn the songs. Things ramp up considerably once you progress to Hard mode and it's then that you'll need to decide whether you're prepared to actually practice songs to make it further. The maligned boss battles from Guitar Hero III are largely missing this time around. This is very much a meat-and-potatoes experience without the exotic gravy. The game also includes an area called the Vault where you'll be able to access downloadable songs, but this was a feature not available from our pre-production version of the game.
Guitar Hero: Aerosmith offers no surprises. The game looks, plays and sounds exactly as you probably imagine it does. If, like me, you've played previous Guitar Hero games before, you may have touched on the following question: Why does this game exist? In an age of downloadable songs, something Activision has already put to good use in Guitar Hero III, is a game as focused as this really deserving of a standalone release, especially when it's coming in at full price? I'm not convinced.