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Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

You can’t deny it. We’ve finally made it. Just think back to our first gig, all those years ago at Nipmuc high school. Only a handful of rebellious teenagers fuelled by angst were there to offer us support that night. Now look at us, being applauded and screamed at by thousands of diverse fans. They buy our records and travel to our shows, just to see us in action. We’ve got it all: the cars, the money, and most importantly, the style. Quick, it’s time to go on. Are you ready, Steve? The lights are coming up; they’re cheering our names. Now pass me my guitar and let us show them what Aerosmith are all about. Let’s rock.

The decision to focus the Guitar Hero formula onto one band may have confused many people. With an excellent download service readily available on Live, more often than not Activision release packs of songs focused solely on one group in particular. Four songs are often on offer for a fraction of the price of a full game, meaning many are willing to pay up to personalise their GH experience. This fact makes the decision to release Guitar Hero: Aerosmitha hugely gutsy one, as the title itself directs the game at a specifically intended audience. Nevertheless, GH is back and playing up to it’s old tricks once more.

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As with the DS’s newly released On Tour product, fans of the series will be at ease with this game in an instant. The art direction, sound effects and menu system all adhere to the Guitar Hero tick list, instantly questioning whether or not this game is worthy of hitting our shelves at full price. Unfortunately, this question is answered rapidly. Once warmed up and onto the main stage, proceedings fail to bring anything new to the table, meaning this hastily becomes a title for hardcore gamers of the series.

“As with the DS’s newly released On Tour product, fans of the series will be at ease with this game in an instant”Interestingly, Aerosmith allows you to witness the rise to fame by the now world-renowned rock royals. Beginning your journey at Nipmuc high, you have the chance to play through some of the bands biggest selling hits (such as “Love in an Elevator and “Sweet Emotion”) in a bid to earn a place into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Along the way, the band members themselves reminisce on their real-life experiences as rock stars, often giving extremely personal accounts on their highlights as one of the group. Before you know it, you will have struck stardom on it’s often distant head and will be rocking out in front of thousands at the famous half time show alongside hip-hip pioneers Run DMC, making this a game of relatively short length.

When comparing career modes to Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, the extent of Aerosmiths’ shortcomings begins to be all too clear. With only thirty-one songs on offer, there isn’t much to get excited about. Oddly, many of these tracks aren’t even by Aerosmith, as Activision have allowed a number of covers and band favourites to be involved in the line up. This was disappointing, as tracks such as “Dude Looks Like a Lady” are nowhere to be seen, whereas many instantly forgettable songs from lesser artists are ready to plough through. Unlockable tracks are on offer, but even with these added to the line-up there aren’t as in the normal career of its predecessors. As you enter each venue, players will have to complete at least two songs that aren’t Aerosmith recordings, in order to unlock the chance to play some of the title band’s famous tunes.

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It must be said, once you begin playing as Steve Tyler and the gang, the title feels much fresher than before. As all the band members have been motion captured, authenticity here is brilliant. Players really get the feel of the Aerosmith ethos, making the experience wholly more fulfilling than playing tracks by The Cult and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Regrettably, you will rock out to three Aerosmith songs at a time (at maximum), and then will move onto the next venue. Of course, this means the procedure of unlocking the next set of tracks needs to be endured once more, meaning boredom can arise before the headline act has even reached the stage.

“It must be said, once you begin playing as Steve Tyler and the gang, the title feels much fresher than before”Presentation throughout this game is excellent. The classic character models are as sharp and vibrant as ever, and venues look superb. This has always been a major plus for the Guitar Hero franchise, so failure in this aspect would have been extremely surprising. Crowds roar and chant “AEROSMITH!” with frantic excitement, meaning you feel part of the atmosphere once you take control of the main band.

Unfortunately, there are areas of this game that pinpoint the lack of any improvement to the series. Most notably, the tutorial is exactly the same as previous GH titles. Yes, I understand that the fundamentals of the game are identical, but a reworking of the tutorial to suit the title’s theme would have been a very welcome touch. Multiplayer is thrown in once more, but there isn’t anything new worth mentioning. This is certainly something of a frustration, as it seemed as if the series was beginning to make huge steps forward in the competitive and co-operative stakes after the brilliant Legends of Rock. Still, if something isn’t broken you don’t need to fix it right? No, not anymore, not when Rock Band is hogging the limelight with a greater sense of style and a much cooler swagger.

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“Unfortunately, there are areas of this game that pinpoint the lack of any improvement to the series”For many players, the difficulty of previous Guitar Hero games gave them the chance to come back and improve on their score. The chance of mastering a song often added to the drama and excitement of playing, as you steadily creep towards the last note with sheer anticipation and nerves. In Aerosmith gamers will find a much more user-friendly set of songs, as the difficulty here is largely under whelming. Granted, a few of the tracks may take a handful attempts, but they never challenge like Legends of Rock. When you also consider that there is a major lack of variety in songs as well, the idea of focusing an entire game on one band may begin to grate on the gamer.

As you reach your final concert, and are cemented amongst the greatest rockers ever, there will certainly be mixed feelings when looking back at the journey you have undergone. With a lack of decent songs, difficulty and new ideas, this may be one Guitar Hero clone too many for the large majority of players. At full price, this is certainly being aimed at those who are dedicated to the cause or the band in question. Even though the GH formula has been stripped bare, the game still manages to entertain however. As with On Tour, it’s obvious to see that the series is trying to cover every base possible, meaning it isn’t focusing completely on reinventing the genre. At a budget price, this would definitely be worth a shout. Unfortunately for now, it seems Aerosmith needs to take a step back, only managing to play groupie to the real Legends of Rock that have already conquered the gaming world.

7 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in September 2007.

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