Aerosmith Fan or Not, This is a Solid Title
In the summer of 2007 Activision released the Harmonix-created Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80's. The game had a solid but extremely short tracklist and very little in the way of change to the Guitar Hero 2 formula. To top it all off, it was fifty bucks! The game was seen as a cash in but saved mainly due to its solid setlist.
Nearly a year after Rocks the 80's we're faced with Guitar Hero: Aerosmith which covers mostly Aerosmith while also including songs from bands that played with or "inspired" them. The game is full retail price at sixty dollars for the 360 version but it's got a lot more to it than Rocks the 80's did. The first noticable changes in the game are the new menus. They're basically Guitar Hero 3 menus but with an Aerosmith coat of paint. It adds a bit of novelty to the experience and helps it to separate itself from being Guitar Hero 3 with different songs. The game's in-game store is called "The Vault" and is home to the game's host of unlockable items. The entire monster set of guitars from Guitar Hero 3 is back in full force along with a ton of new Aerosmith guitars and basses. There's also new outfits, songs, characters, finishes, and even a few "Behind the Music-esque" videos for your viewing pleasure. The trouble with all this is that it'll take you playing the setlist over and over, even creating different bands just to afford all the unlockables. This will be agitating to many, especially expert players who find themselves playing the expert career three or even four times just to get the cash to buy all of the guitars.
Speaking of the setlist, Guitar Hero Aerosmith has some great songs in it. The songs spread from the 70's through the early 90's, the youngest of which being Sex Type Thing by Stone Temple Pilots. If you're a classic rock fan chances are you'll fall in love with most of this list pretty quickly. The solos in the songs are genuinely fun to play, and you'll soon forget how long they go on for. The difficulty of said solos has been scaled down quite a bit, but the timing window for hitting notes has been fine tuned for a more Guitar Hero II style feel. This balances the difficulty out for the most part, but experiened players will blow through the game with very little trouble. The achievements for beating each difficulty are stacked, in other words if you beat expert you'll get the achievements for beating easy, medium, and hard as well as the expert one.
The unlockable songs in the game are all-around pretty good. That is, with the exception of the Joe Perry solo work. The songs "Mercy" and "Joe Perry Guitar Battle" are the only good songs out of Perry's solo work for the reason that they don't have lyrics to them and are really fun to play. His other songs, not so much. The game includes both versions of the hit "Walk this Way" which was a very nice touch. Run DMC even makes it in as an unlockable character, though we didn't know he could play guitar.
You can blow through the single player career in a little under four hours if you're familiar with the concept. The venues are all original and the motion captured Aerosmith members are overall well done. My only complaint was the lack of songs when you're done with it all. 41 songs isn't a bad amount but there are some glaring omissions from the setlist that could've made this better.
The Battle, Co-op, Face-off, and Pro Face-Off modes all make a return to the game, with of course online play over Xbox Live. Some of the songs (Back in the Saddle comes to mind) are really fun to play in co-op because both the bass and lead tracks are really fun. Other songs don't fare so well and the bass/rythm guitarist gets the short straw. What's surprising about the Battle and Face-Off modes is that now they're played on one difficulty over Xbox Live. This delivers a much better balance in multiplayer matches (in Guitar Hero 3, Xbox Live Battles primarily consisted of two players waiting for the other to pick a difficulty so the other could pick a lower difficulty) and makes them a lot more fun. Face-off still feels unbalanced by design, but that's what Pro Face-Off is for. If you want to play locally, then you can adjust the difficulty in Battle, Face-off, and even in Pro Face-Off, which was previously unavailable in past Guitar Hero games.
Finally, there are the game's achievements. They are much easier than the Guitar Hero III achievements but I feel that this is their main flaw. Achievements are a great source of replay value for a game when it starts to get boring and Guitar Hero III's achievements had you playing for months to unlock many of the more difficult ones. It's possible to get nearly 200 Gamerscore just by playing and 100%'ing the first or any song in the game as long as it's above the easy difficulty. There are a few difficult achievements such as getting 325,000 points or more on Train Kept a Rollin' but these are few and far between. You'll find yourself with nearly all of the achievements after a first play through.
If you're a long time fan of the Guitar Hero franchise then there's really no big detering factor that should stop you from liking this game. Newcomers should be more cautious when approaching this game unless they really really like Aerosmith. If you're like me and just love the series then don't be afraid to walk this way (sorry, terrible pun).