Guitar Hero: Aerosmith PS3 Review

May 29, 2010 by  
Filed under Playstation 3, Reviews

Believe it or not, I’m quite a bit of a word geek. I like looking for the Latin or ancient Greek roots of words and seeing how they relate to what they describe. Not only does this make me a truly great guest at parties, it also…well, let’s face it, it’s not really all that cool, but it does mean that I can recognise a fellow word geek when I see them. And someone in Aerosmith is definitely a man after my own heart…(Aero=air, Smith=forger, how cool is that?)

ANYWAY, you didn’t click the link to read my inane ramblings about boring pastimes. No, we’re here to talk about Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, which is the most recent spin-off of Activision’s Guitar Hero 3 brand. Unlike previous Guitar Hero games, GH:A doesn’t feature a wide-range of songs from different artists and genres. Instead, it heavily features the music of one particular band, with 29 of the total 41 tracks taken solely from Aerosmith’s catalogue of music, and the remaining 12 taken from artists that have played with or inspired the Boston superstars in the past. If you don’t like Aerosmith, it’s probably best to look away now.

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Still here? OK. Aside from the obvious corporate promotion of Aerosmith, (timed with their reappearance as a unified band with a new album to match), the core mechanics of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith remain pretty much unchanged from Guitar Hero 3. The game still revolves around playing a plastic guitar along to a famous song, hitting as many notes as possible in unbroken streaks to score the highest number of points. The gimmick for GH:A is of course the presence of the band as playable characters, as well as the career mode following their rise to stardom via song to song, venue to venue.

What Activision has done here is interesting. By taking an established successful band (we at Console Obsession are not here to criticise the quality of their music) and building a game solely around them is a fairly logical, but risky, move for the series. Sure, you tap into a whole ocean of credibility by slapping a well-known name on the cover, but you enter dangerous territory when the core players of your games (i.e. those in their mid-twenties or below) weren’t even born when your titular stars where playing the majority of their music. Sure, it might work with a band with long-standing reputation like Pink Floyd, but Aerosmith is a difficult band to work with. Their music doesn’t tend to feature many memorable riffs, which is the bread and butter of the plastic-instrument-playing genre. This means that the game lacks either a nostalgia revival effect with the general punter or a hardcore series of mind-bending riffs for the elite Guitar Hero III fans to sink their callused fingers into. Consequently, the game isn’t as difficult as previous titles and the music is nowhere nearly as remarkable.

That’s not to say the game isn’t without some charm. The motion capture for the Boston rockers is surprisingly good, with each of the band members ending up as a playable character, as well as a number of other guest stars, including the legendary Run DMC. As well as that, improvements have been made to certain gameplay mechanics, mostly involving hammer-ons and pull-offs. Players inexperienced in the ways of the music rhythm game will not notice much difference, but veterans will surely appreciate the improvements, with such advanced mechanics being tightened up and made more reliable. Activision also report having removed the difficulty spikes that resulted in Guitar Hero III earning a reputation for unrelenting difficulty. However, how much of that is as a result of a conscious design decision, or the lack of complex guitar riffs in Aerosmith’s music that I mentioned earlier remains to be seen.

In a way, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is a difficult game to review. There’s not a huge shift in core gameplay, or unusual changes in the music genres represented. Unlike Rock Band (or the forthcoming Guitar Hero IV), there is no major multiplayer mechanics involving multiple instruments and co-operative gameplay. There’s just the addition of a whole lot of Aerosmith product placement. Basically, if you really enjoy the music of Aerosmith, this game has been tailor made to suit your needs. Anyone who enjoys rhythm based music games, but doesn’t like Aerosmith should avoid it. It’s that simple, and by featuring the music of a single band so heavily, Activision have essentially taken all the challenge out of reviewing their games – all we have to say is, if you like the band buy it. If you don’t, don’t.

Hey, not that I’m complaining – less work for me! Can I have my paycheck now, please?

[No – Ed.]

6/10
(8/10 if you’re an Aerosmith fan)

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