I'm so jaded.
After writing a review for Guitar Hero: On Tour last week, I’m Guitar Hero-ed out. This is one of those times when I wish could do a “Limbo of the Lost”, slither my way towards a review for Guitar Hero III, Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V, and voila!, a review for Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. (Of course, I would have no idea that it was a stolen asset.) But stealing from oneself is something GH: Aerosmith obviously doesn’t have a problem with. In fact, if it didn’t have the word “Aerosmith” emblazoned on its front cover, you could replace it with “III”, and hardly anyone would know the difference.
Now, I have to be perfectly honest here. I know diddly-squat about Aerosmith, apart from their love for rollin’ nighttime trains, and the idea that if I’m wetting my pants as I watch an oncoming asteroid, they will provide the soundtrack. (And that lead singer Steven Tyler’s mouth could give Albert Dershman a run for his money). But suffice it to say, I learned far more about Aerosmith in their Wikipedia article than I did playing this.
By and large, you can treat this GH: Aerosmith just like the "special" Aerosmith guitar that you can purchase bundled along with the game: a standard Gibson Guitar Hero III controller with an Aerosmith faceplate. The only differences between the two titles are the intro screen, the story, the venues, unlockable content, a few character models, and the song selection - all of which cater to “America’s Greatest Rock and Roll Band”. Instead of following a generic rags-to-riches plotline, you follow Aerosmith’s path to rock royalty through a general scatterplot of
what they smoked what they drank groupies they banged where they played, interspersed with documentary interviews of you-know-whos.
But nothing really changes. You still strum the strum bar, pull off pull-offs, hammer on hammer-ons, power up star power, etcetera, etcetera. You can still compete on Xbox Live matches, peruse leaderboards, freshen up with the tutorials, and fret along with or against a buddy in the multiplayer face-off, co-op, and battle modes. Unfortunately, the multiplayer co-op career mode has *poof* disappeared - an oddity because there is a co-op quickplay mode. It just makes the title feel even more like it should be Guitar Hero: Joe Perry rather than anything else. (I probably shouldn't tell Activision that Rock Band: Aerosmith makes more sense. Yeah, bad idea.)
One negligible change is that completing each tier of songs has you first go through a couple of non-Aerosmith tracks, then a couple of regular Aerosmith tracks, and finally an encore Aerosmith track. But you still plow through each tier, each becoming progressively more difficult, until you have uncovered the ending and given your hand an excuse to rest.
Roughly half of the track list are of Aerosmith’s most guitar-solo-licious songs - like “Toys in the Attic”, “Dream On”, and “Back in the Saddle” - with, err..., “other good stuff” rounding out the other half. I say “other good stuff” because all the songs that aren’t by Aerosmith seem thrown in just to make the track list healthier, though it’s hard to complain about “Sex Type Thing” by Stone Temple Pilots and “King of Rock” by Run-D.M.C.
One possibility is that Activision realized, as many of us already have, that a Guitar Hero title with only Aerosmith songs would get staler than musak.... on a good day. It just puts the whole “dedicated to Aerosmith” spiel into question: Why didn’t we just get a downloadable Aerosmith pack instead? It’s one thing for Rocks The 80’s (which serves as a good comparison, by the way) to be released in an age not familiar with downloadable content on the console, but it’s quite another for GH: Aerosmith to try an milk another $60 out of the pockets of loyal Guitar Hero fans.
Look, if you’re the type that needs to download every song for Guitar Hero, nab a godly Top 1000 slot on yet another Guitar Hero leaderboard, or fawn over the Aerosmith poster double-sided-taped onto your wall, then you’re probably not going to listen to what anyone says about picking up a copy. (And if so, how did you even manage to read this far?) Still, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith isn’t going to change anyone’s mind about how they feel about this permanent fixture in American subculture. Its track list is slightly shorter, its difficulty is slightly easier, and its unlockable goodies are slightly less thrilling, but if you loved everything about Guitar Hero III despite its flaws, then there’s little reason not to grab this one as well. Just don’t expect your finger train to be rolling over the guitar as all-night-long as it did before.