canuckeh's Guitar Hero: Aerosmith (Xbox 360) review

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Who else remembers "Revolution X"?

Guitar Hero : Aerosmith : A rhythm game where the game orders players to press coloured buttons at the precise right moment the game tells you to. To cover up the oppressive nature of this practice, the game plays rock music in the background to make the player feel like a rebel. This instance of false empowerment focuses on being themed after AEROSMITH, the supposed biggest rock band of all time, though players won’t know that playing this game since half the songs in the damn game aren’t theirs.

Story : The career mode in Guitar Hero: AEROSMITH adds a bit of a twist to the standard GH career mode. First you play two songs by bands that are decidedly NOT AEROSMITH (but presumably either played with AEROSMITH, inspired AEROSMITH, or have some sort of connection to AEROSMITH that one would wish the game explain) until the crowd decides that they’d rather see AEROSMITH live than say, Joan Jett, The Clash, The Cult or Lenny Kravitz, and thus you play a series of songs by AEROSMITH. Each venue is based on some sort of past major event that AEROSMITH played in, and between each set of songs is a video of AEROSMITH explaining why such a venue is so important to AEROSMITH.

As far as I’m concerned, the strongest aspect of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is the ability to unlock extended versions of the above videos. Now, they don’t tell the complete history of the band as there seems to be some sort of mysterious void in the story between the time the band became popular and the time they attempted a comeback (I guess talking about drugs and alcohol would ruin the game’s ESRB rating. That or Activision is just plain scared of the topic.) But the band offers several entertaining stories that alone warrant renting the game if you have a passing interest in stealing t-shirts at your first gig at a high school dance.

Otherwise, this game plays exactly like every Guitar Hero game before it. You press buttons and strum the flimsy piece of plastic on your guitar controller when the game tells you to. As you may or may not have already heard, the biggest fault with Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is that it has about half the songs of the usual Guitar Hero game, but Activision still had the audacity to charge full price for the game. And while that indeed renders GH: Aerosmith as a complete and utter ripoff, that isn’t the biggest flaw with the game.

No, the biggest fault with the game is its own theme. By focusing primarily on one band for most of the game’s material, you focus on one playing style. Other GH games mix things up in the use of different artists, songs and rock subgenres. Here, the majority of the songs are from Aerosmith and thus tend to play the same. There’s only so many ways one can add variety to what is essentially pressing buttons when told, and here there’s even less variety. Even the non-Aerosmith songs play too much like the Aerosmith songs. As a result, you’ll find yourself feeling very underwhelmed of the whole experience. You can complete story mode in a couple of hours, and those couple of hours won’t exactly be the most thrilling hours of your life. And this is despite the fact that the game wisely excludes most of Aerosmith’s overplayed, radio-friendly power ballads.

So who should get Guitar Hero: Aerosmith? No one. The game is a bad idea and a poor investment, except as a rental to people who very badly want to play both versions of Walk This Way.

Pros : I’d like to use this section to give my thoughts on the arms race that is the music genre. It seems like people are clamoring for music games that aren’t just guitars, but include drums and vocals, and online play, and the ability to record music, and so forth. But in trying to bring in so many gameplay elements together in one game, could it not be argued that it takes some of the focus away from the core experience? With the major Guitar Hero games and especially Guitar Hero 2, almost every song brought something to the table, either a memorable riff or solo or musical style or something that made it either a unique addition or a suitable fit for the segment on the difficulty curve it sat on. Each song felt like it belonged and progressing through career mode was fun, as opposed to adding songs for name value, to brag about having a certain artist on the back of the box like Rock Band and now this game. While Rock Band makes for a fun party game is just to see if you can get the highest-pitched person there to sing Sabotage by the Beastie Boys, most of the game doesn’t hold up well played individually. Try progressing through career mode using one instrument, guitar or drums, and you’ll find it a tedious experience, up until the bottom tiers and the challenging songs. I can’t help but feel that with Rock Band 2 and the upcoming Guitar Hero: World Tour, that the same will be true.

Cons : But that said, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith lacks the same kind of balance. If anything, a series vet will almost never feel tested.

2 stars
Posted by CanuckEh

Umm, yeah 2 stars, not 4!

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