It's fair to say that alarm bells started ringing at ONM when we heard about Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. Dedicating an entire game to a single band, in doing so making the whole experience much more limited, just reeked of a fan-fleecing cash-in exercise. The finished product isn't quite as brazen as that but there will certainly be more than a few disappointed guitar slingers out there.
It's hard to criticise the gameplay mechanics of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith simply because it's all basically the same Guitar Hero 3. And when the only real criticism we had of that was that Neversoft had ramped the difficulty up a bit too much, it suggests that GH: Aerosmith should be every bit as good for aping its predecessor so closely, especially when the difficulty issue has been addressed (there's no Aerosmith equivalent of GH3's Raining Blood or Through The Fire And The Flames). On paper, it should actually be better for the majority of people.
From Hero To Zero
In truth, GH: Aerosmith is disappointing for all the reasons it shouldn't be. Surprisingly though, the game's focus on Aerosmith is actually the least of our concerns. Certainly, it sacrifices most of the eclectic style Guitar Hero games have always had (but not all, thanks to a small selection of non-Aerosmith songs included as 'warm-up acts'), but the video interviews with the band about their career and range of venues from their past at least give the package some meaning. Plus, their on-screen characterisations during songs really bring the game to life in a way the previous group of nobodies never did - something that's painfully obvious when said band takes to the stage for the warm-ups.
Unfortunately, the game starts showing its limited nature once you start playing. The Career mode, for instance, offers virtually no song choice whatsoever and aside from a selection of two warm-up songs at the start of every set, you're forced down a linear path of tunes so if you get stuck there's literally nowhere else to go, especially when playing on Hard or Expert.
Boss battles are also back (although mercifully, there's actually only one), but the fact that this signals a massive spike in the game's difficulty makes us dislike it even more. And although the option to buy new guitars, characters and costumes is still here, it's had its purpose taken away somewhat; since Aerosmith takes to the stage with set clothing and equipment for the entire Career mode, it's only really when playing Quickplay or online that you'll see your own preferences. What's more, there's no co-op Career mode (even though Guitar Hero 3 had one) and half the songs you'd expect aren't anywhere to be seen; where are hits like Dude Looks Like A Lady, Don't Want To Miss A Thing or Crazy?
With Guitar Hero: World Tour less than six months away then, GH: Aerosmith is clearly more of a minor distraction than a proper game - that Activision is asking £40 for it (or more packaged with the guitar) is somewhat laughable. If you're literally gagging for songs to play then, we can understand the appeal... but to be honest, we're more inclined to wait it out than open our wallets.