After the huge amount of attention Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock received after its launch, it’s definitely no surprise that there was going to be a Guitar Hero IV. The most recent installment in the popular Guitar Hero series will not only utilize a guitar, but a microphone and drums as well. Since the game is competing with Rock Band, another popular console music game, the developers of the game needed enough time to tweak Guitar Hero IV (which was later renamed Guitar Hero: World Tour) to their standards. To satisfy those raging Guitar Hero fans, Activision decided to release two new entries in the series during the summer of 2008. One of those spin-offs was Guitar Hero: Aerosmith
As one would expect, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith focuses primarily on the legendary band Aerosmith. However there is a little catch. The game doesn’t feature music just from Aerosmith; many other bands and artists are showcased in the game as show openers. In career mode, there are six venues in total to play in. At the beginning of each venue is a short video highlighting Aerosmith’s past at the venue.
After the video, players must then complete the two show openers. Only by completing these two songs will two Aerosmith songs appear. Complete all four songs and you’ll get to play an encore. Unlike previous Guitar Hero games, players must complete all the songs before they are allowed to progress to the next level. In previous games, players only had to complete a certain amount of songs to continue. This opened up the option to skip a song if it was too difficult for you or if it didn’t appeal to you. In Aerosmith, you’ll need to complete all the songs, regardless of if you like ’em or you don’t.
In terms of gameplay, Aerosmith is practically identical to previous games in the popular series. Like previous Guitar Hero games, coloured buttons will run down the screen and when they align with one of your buttons, players will have to push that specific button on their guitar or controller. While pressing down on the button, you’ll also have to push down on the strum bar. For each note you hit, you’ll also need to press down on the strum bar. Essentially if you play 100 notes in a song, you’ll need to press down on the strum bar one hundred times.
In Aerosmith, there are several ways to acquire points. Though the main objective of each song is to complete it without failing, players can also try to get a high score on a song. In order to gain points, you’ll need to play the notes as they run down the screen. Play the right note and you’ll get a certain number of points. This number varies because if you manage to play a long string of notes without missing one, you’ll get a multiplier bonus. If you manage to hit thirty notes in a row, you’ll get a multiplier bonus of four. That means for every note you hit after thirty, you’ll get four times the points. Notes are worth fifty points each without any multipliers, so in this case you’ll get two hundred points.
While playing the game, you many occasionally see oddly shaped button come down your screen. If you manage to play each of these buttons, you’ll be rewarded star power, yet another reward for playing a string of notes. If you manage to acquire enough star power, you can lift your guitar up into the air to activate it. While star power is in use, you’ll get twice as many points as you’re supposed to. For example, if you have a multiplier of two, you’d usually get one hundred points. When star power is in effect, you’ll get two hundred points. Be careful though - star power doesn’t last long.
Regarding the songs in Aerosmith, the game's a mixed bag. Though it contains most of Aerosmith’s greatest hits, the songs included are rather long and repetitive. What I mean by this is that in each song, there is a specific part that keeps getting played over and over again, resulting in a rather boring experience. On top of this, the songs aren’t too upbeat making them seem duller than what they really are. Also worth mentioning is that the game contains only forty-one songs in total. Thirty-one of these songs can be accessed through career mode and the other ones need to be unlocked. To unlock these songs, you’ll have to go to ‘The Vault’, otherwise known as the store, and purchase the songs using the money you received for successfully completing a song. The amount of money you receive will vary depending on how will you performed the song.
In addition to buying songs at the store, players can also buy outfits, guitars and finishes, characters, and video interviews with Aerosmith. Once you purchase a character, outfit, guitar or finishing, you can customize your character using your purchased items. To play the songs that you’ve unlocked, you can access them through any mode that allows you to play songs. The only noticeable downside to the store is that almost everything is expensive. To buy everything, you’ll need to earn a lot of money through Career mode.
Graphically, Aerosmith offers a decent attempt and trying to improve the graphics from previous Guitar Hero games. Though the members of Aerosmith are barely recognizable, the fictional Guitar Hero characters are improved from previous games. It might not be a huge and noticeable improvement but it certainly opens up the door for World Tour to improve on the graphics in the game even further.
All in all, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is a decent spin-off. Though it has its flaws like many other games, the game still proves enjoyable for newcomers to the series and veteran players. Though it's perhaps not quite as enjoyable as other Guitar Hero instalments, there's still fun to be had. However, before making a purchase you should really ask yourself just how huge an Aerosmith fan you actually are; if you do some soul-searching and decide that you''re not Steve Tyler's biggest admirer, then you will probably end up disappointed with the game when you finally get to play it.