Sweet Emotion: Let's get one thing out of the way: if you're a die-hard Aerosmith fan, stop reading this review and buy this game. Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is fan service of a very high order, with digitized versions of the band's most popular songs and some of the key venues they've played in their history. You start at Nipmuc High School and end up at the Rock 'N Roll Hall of Fame, playing a wide selection of Aerosmith favorites and a few other songs chosen by the band.
Toys in the Attic:Guitar Hero is one of the great modern video game franchises and, if you haven't played it before, you're missing out. Rhythm games like Guitar Hero and its main competitor, Rock Band, have come a long way from being collections of cover songs and have become a powerful method of digital music distribution. Why? Because wailing away with your fake plastic guitar is awesome fun, whether alone or with friends.
King of Rock: When this game is good, it's very good. There are tons of hammer-ons and pull-offs interspersed throughout the song list, including a hammer-on sequence at the end of Living on the Edge that lasts for dozens of notes. Playing the Run D.M.C. version of Walk with Way is a blast and feels just like you'd hope it would.
Love in an Elevator: In typical Guitar Hero fashion, the venues are introduced with charming, clever 2-D animations that make the in-game graphics seem even more horrific (see below). This is definitely an idealized version of the band's history, with no animated drug rehab or infighting sequences, but who wants reality when you're pretending to be a rock star?
Walk This Way: The multiplayer component is borrowed almost entirely from Guitar Hero III, but it's still fun. You can compete or play cooperatively with a second guitarist, either online or in-person, and it's a great party experience. Online play was lagless and the interface is easy to use, even if there's not much more than quickmatch. There are online leaderboards, but unless you've got reflexes like Mr. Miyagi on a sixer of Red Bull, you shouldn't get your hopes up.
Pandora's Box: There are a handful of non-Aerosmith songs on the disc, and a few of them are great fun and a welcome break from the repetitive nature of the Aerosmith catalog. Cheap Trick's Dream Police starts the game off right and Joan Jett's I Hate Myself for Loving You is another highlight. Mysteriously, several of the non-Aerosmith songs are covers, and they're only passable. It's disappointing to hear neither Mott the Hoople nor David Bowie performing All the Young Dudes, but the cover version is tolerable.
Nobody's Fault: One change from Guitar Hero III is a departure from that game's punishing difficulty curve. GH: Aerosmith is easier, partly by design and partly because much of Joe Perry's guitar work is built around simple, repeated riffs rather than extended, intricate improvisation. Fortunately, GH: Aerosmith isn't as challenging as GH III, but can definitely get repetitive once you perfect the riff.
Check out this guy tear up Walk This Way on expert level:
Things We'd Change
Same Old Song and Dance: If you've played Guitar Hero III, you've played Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. Developer Red Octane treats this spinoff as little more than a reskinned track pack, despite the innovations to the genre introduced last year by Rock Band. Sure, it's fun, but this is the third Guitar Hero game on the Xbox 360 in the last two years and the formula is starting to feel a little tired.
Hole in My Soul: I don't mean this to come off the wrong way, but -– Aerosmith? There's no doubt that they're an important American rock band, but by the time you reach the end of the game's meager 31-song setlist (with ten unlockable bonus songs), you'll probably have had your fill of the cheesy double-entredre and hokey innuendo that is the hallmark of their catalog. The Beatles might have enough variety to support a dedicated game, but Aerosmith's catalog runs out of gas.
Mercy: In 2008, a full-priced rhythm game deserves more than 41 songs. This game is what downloadable content is intended to provide, and, honestly, some of what's here already feels like filler. You can blow through every song in a couple of nights, and many of them feel so similar that you'll not be in a rush to play them again. There's no sign of downloadable content on the horizon and Guitar Hero III downloaded content is not available in GH: Aerosmith.
Dude (Looks Like an Gremlin):Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and company have been given the Guitar Hero visual treatment and suffice it to say that Guillermo del Toro need look no further for inspiration for his next film. Tyler looks like a Skeksis, drummer Joey Kramer has the blank stare of a Cabbage Path Kid, and Perry looks like he gazed too long into the Ark of the Covenant. It's the stuff of nightmares. And why do they look the same when they play their first high school gig as they do entering the Hall of Fame? Did these guys always look this wrecked?
Just Push Rewind: The climactic song of the game is, oddly enough, Train Kept A-Rollin'', which is also featured in Rock Band. It's disappointing to play the whole game, only to end it playing a song you've probably already trudged your way through a dozen times in another game. The game climaxes with a space shuttle animated sequence that makes you think you're going to get the Armageddon-flavored Don't Wanna Miss a Thing -– the band's sole No. 1 song -– but you never do.
You probably know by looking at the box if you want this game or not, and you're probably right. It is what it claims to be: a Guitar Hero game featuring nearly all Aerosmith songs. If that's what you're looking for, it's the game of your dreams. For the rest of us, it's a quick diversion with a little too much filler. On the other hand, it's a masterpiece compared to Aerosmith's previous foray into gaming, the execrable Revolution X.