Guitar Hero: Aerosmith
Reviewing a new Guitar Hero game is almost as problematic as performing the same duties for new versions of SingStar. The always-impressive guitar game has long since been buffed and shined to perfection leaving really only the track listing to argue about. In fact most GH reviews can be summed up by saying if you like the track listing and you like Guitar Hero then you'll like this game. Having said that, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is a little different. Not a lot, but a bit.
As the name suggests this new entry into the GH brand tweaks the formula a tad by focusing on a single band, Aerosmith (in case that wasn't obvious), allowing you to play through the band's career right from their first ever gig. The decision to focus on a single band like this is a great idea on the face of it, and if you're an Aerosmith fan this is probably exactly the GH game you've been praying for. The critical question is will the rest of the world enjoy the experience quite as much.
The main career mode features an impressive 31 songs from the band's back catalogue and lets you rock in a series of significant venues from the band's history including their first ever gig at Nipmuc Regional High School. As we've come to expect from GH, songs are grouped together in tiers of five or six songs which are unlocked as you complete the previous set, the only change here is that with each new selection of songs comes a small video interview with the band.
As you play through the game you'll get the chance to unlock extended versions of the interview clips and some suitably Aerosmith-themed character models and guitars if that's kind of thing turns you on. But really, that's about it for the extra content which seems a little disappointing considering the glaring opportunities for things like concert footage and behind the scenes documentaries.
The game itself is pretty much Guitar Hero III with different song and as such retains that game's perfect rhythm-action mechanics. For those few people still in the dark about such matters it involves playing a plastic guitar by holding down fret buttons and strumming on a small bar in time with prompts that flow down a virtual fret board on-screen. Yes, it sounds a bit silly when you put it like that, but trust me, its fantastic fun.
So, where does that leave us? We've got the fantastic Guitar Hero mechanics to provide a deliciously moist gameplay sponge cake and a slightly thin layer of Areosmith flavoured jam to put in the middle, but what we're really interested in, what will truly make our mouths-water, is the music itself, the icing on the cake that will entice you to buy. Perhaps surprisingly a lot of the songs featured hark back to the band's hits from the 70's rather than spreading things out evenly, and the casual fans amongst you may be disappointed to find recent hits like "I Don't Want To Miss A Thing" and "Jaded" fail to make the cut.
The more committed Aerosmith fanatic will no doubt rejoice to find songs like 'Back in the Saddle', 'Movin' Out', 'Nobody's Fault' and 'Let The Music Do The Talking' in the line up, not to mention both the Run D.M.C. version of 'Walk This Way' and the original Aerosmith-only version. There are even a few songs by other artists who have had their part to play in the Aerosmith story. Tracks like "All the Young Dudes" by Mott the Hoople and "King of Rock" from Run D.M.C. certainly add some diversity to things and it's nice to see these little insider nods crop up.
When it comes to the slightly pointless awarding of a score you need to bare in mind that this is my own personal feeling as someone who comes to the table as far more of GH fan than an Aerosmith one. Fans of the band can easily imagine another fifteen points or more on the top of my score while those who can't stand the American rockers or have a strange aversion to all things Guitar Hero shaped can mentally knock a similarly shaped fifteen off the total and then we'll all be happy.
There's no doubting the single band formula is a solid road for Guitar Hero to venture down, it will obviously shrink the market as it narrows the appeal a tad but if you love the band in question it'll pretty much be a dream come true. Me? I'd be more excited about a Queen or Guns 'n' Roses version but this is a decent first go.