Review: Guitar Hero Aerosmith (Nintendo Wii)

Guitar Hero Aerosmith
Genre: Music/Rhythm
Developer: Vicarious Visions
Publisher: Activision
Release Date: 06/29/2008

By now you either know what Guitar Hero is or you were: A.) Just born like right this very second or B.) Have been living in a box. It’s the game that lets everyone who is a wannabe rockstar get behind the strings (?), err…strings of a guitar and act like they know what they are doing. My first experience to this franchise came on the Wii at the hands of Guitar Hero III. My frame of mind didn’t want to play it right away simply because I lumped it in with such games as Dance, Dance, Revolution and knew I’d suck highly at it. Amazingly enough, I was wrong.

I’m not the hugest music fan in the world, but there are those bands and songs which are my favorites. You’re not going to find a giant CD collection in my house because it’s probably been about eight years since my last purchase of one. Local radio, Sirius, and downloadin…umm, borrowing music from others is the way I get my musical kicks. Yeah I listen to a lot of it, and one of the bands that has blared in my head the most over my twenty-eight years has been Aerosmith. So let’s see now. I love Aerosmith and found out that my total disgust of Guitar Hero was premature. What kind of resolution could be brought to life in order to satisfy these two loves?

HOLY HELL…Activision did it!

One would have to wonder whether or not making a game entirely devoted to one band is worth the price of admission (the purchase). At first glance, that is exactly what you’re going to think. In fact, you’re going to be wrong because some other artists are thrown into the mix here so you don’t get tired out on Steven Tyler’s enormous mouth. No matter how much you love something; there’s only so much you can take before it gets boring. Or creepy in the case of Tyler’s face. {Shudder!} Could it be done though? Would this prove to be another successful step in Guitar Hero‘s ever growing legacy? Only play time would tell.

Story / Modes

Essentially GH Aerosmith is exactly the same as the others that have come before it, but with a few twists thrown in. In earlier games, you played the part of a small-town band who is trying to make it big so they go from gig to gig and create a buzz. You work your way up to the center stage and end up going from playing in front of twenty people in a bar to playing before thousands in Japan. An interesting enough premise without getting too convoluted or confusing.

Things are a bit different this time around as you’ll end up playing two songs as the no name band and then if you pass those; you play two or three songs as Aerosmith. It kind of takes away from the whole idea of GH as a game, but maybe that is not what was really intended here because the focus is almost totally on Aerosmith. What bothers me the most though is that the sets aren’t chronologically in order. Sure the different venues go along with the career of Aerosmith, but not the songs. One second you could be playing “Rag Doll” (1986) in the Orpheum (tier 3) and then playing “Walk This Way” (1987) in Moscow (tier 4). I’m not quite sure why things are somewhat mixed up.

You’re not going to get much of a story here even though the gist is that you play your way through Aerosmith’s career. A lot of songs are jumbled up or played at the wrong time. One second you’re the opening act and the next you’re playing as Tyler and his longtime bandmates. Not to mention the supreme lack of battles which takes a lot away from the game. Getting up to the battles was one of the most sought after accomplishments and winning them was even more so. Hoping they’re coming and never seeing them makes it even more disappointing.

Story Rating: Average

Graphics

All looks rather well in GH Aerosmith as there have been some vast improvements over its first venture onto the Wii. Some corners have been smoothed out, colors are a little brighter, and the animation rolls along much finer then it did in GH III. One of the noticeable improvements is the singing ability of those on stage. It was pointless looking at your lead singer before because his mouth barely ever matched the words you heard in your ears. Now at least it appeared like he was trying to lip synch.

One of the more innovative tactics that worked here is getting the exact movements of Steven Tyler and the rest of Aerosmith down to a tee. It’s great seeing Tyler move around the stage with his dance moves and throwing his microphone stand only to grab it at the last second with the ribbon tied on it and pull it back. Joe Perry’s facial expressions are priceless and spot on as his stone like look concentrates on the strings. Everything just looks like more time was taken on it so that it could be as realistic as possible while still looking cartoonish.

I will say this though. Tyler’s mouth is incredibly large here. I mean it is of dynamic proportion which is saying something considering how huge it is in real life.

Graphics Rating: Enjoyable

Sound

The sound is awful.

Sha, Right!

It’s Aerosmith for the love of God. GH has great sound no matter what, but throwing in Aerosmith makes things even better. All the beats, riffs, and lyrics are there with pinpoint accuracy so there’s nothing not to enjoy. The only problem is if you don’t like Aerosmith which then you probably wouldn’t end up playing this game to begin with, but that’s all a matter of opinion.

Some of the other songs aren’t of the best quality, but that has nothing to do with the sound of the game itself. It goes back to how “nails against a chalkboard” sounding some of these cover bands are. Steve Ouimette did the cover for “Devil Went Down To Georgia” in GH III, and it was decent but nothing like Charlie Daniels’ version. Same holds true here as Ouimette returns to cover The Black Crowes’ “Hard To Handle.” Good song, bad cover. Another band called Wavegroup is here for some covers as well, and while not awful, they’re not too enjoyable either.

The Aerosmith stuff is awesome. Most of the rest, not so much. Make that the covers are not that good, but the stuff from Stone Temple Pilots, Cheap Trick, Lenny Kravitz…all good tunes.

Sound Rating: Great

Control / Gameplay

Coordination is the name of the game. You must be able to not look at a controller while playing. You must not be one of those people who moves the controller and your whole body as you jump or run. And you must know how to use both hands extensively at the same time. One hand is going to be hitting the different colored frets according to the notes coming at you on the screen. Your other hand is going to be strumming the bar (guitar pick) as you hold down the frets so the notes can be heard. Sounds simple enough, but it really isn’t. And once you get the hang of it, don’t think a real guitar is that easy either because it isn’t. Just because you’ve mastered five colored buttons and a bar; that doesn’t mean you know how to strum a Fender Stratocaster.

Your goal for each song is to make it through it with as few mistakes as possible. You want to hit a good percentage of the notes while also trying to get as long a streak of consecutive notes as possible. Those are your personal goals though. Making it through each song requires a bit more. For each song there is going to be a “rock meter” to your right which will judge how much the crowd is digging your playing. If you are hitting your notes and rocking out then they’ll be happy and jam along with you. The more notes you miss though; the more the crowd will be pissed off and let you know how much you suck.

It’s rather simple to keep things under control on the Easy and Medium levels, but you better make sure you are an accomplished player before heading into the Hard and Expert settings. Easy is only going to throw three colored frets at you. Medium will throw one more color at you, but chuck in a few more double notes and some quicker ones as well. Hard and Expert jump up to five colors while making you hit almost every note in the songs which calls for some fast finger work. Drink plenty of water if you plan for a night of Expert play because you’re bound to cramp up.

Control/Gameplay Rating: Good

Replayability

If you’ve played any of the GH franchise before then you know just how much you want to keep playing. That is not only because of the enjoyment factor that it presents, but by just how much you love the music. See for someone such as myself, GH Aerosmith is one of those games that I can pop into my Wii five years from now and get just as much enjoyment out of it because I’ll still love hearing the songs. Why not be a little more active as you listen to music instead of just sitting there? And if you’re not musically inclined then this is perhaps the best way for you to feel like you’re doing a little piece of the music.

There are other reasons for playing this game over and over again and that is the different things that can be unlocked. A number of costumes and guitars for the current playable characters are available in The Vault after you earn enough cash to buy them up. You can also purchase different characters, songs, videos, and other such things for you to play whole new variations of the career mode. What’s a little more difficult about this game is that some things are available to buy right away while others must first be unlocked and then can be purchased if you have enough cash stored up. Double whammy.

If you are looking for the quick way out then by all means jump online and find the cheat codes to unlock everything, but what’s the point? Do you really feel like you accomplished anything if you don’t have to work for the special features? Nice job lazy ass. But even then you’d want to play this game over and over again merely because it’s a fun time. Have some friends over or jump on Wi-Fi and challenge someone from around the world.

Replayability Rating: Classic

Balance

GH has a way of letting everyone play no matter what their skill level may be. If you can play at all, then you can play it without getting incredibly pissed off thanks to it being too hard. You just really have to know your limits when it comes to the level you want to play at. If you play on Easy then expect it to be pretty simple all the way through. Things are going to pick up a little along the way with some double notes thrown in, but nothing really more difficult then that. Medium will have you doing one more color for a total of four, but the speed picks up a little bit and some more double notes and such are included.

For those of you who have been playing a while and have more experience, then you may want to step up to the Hard level. I myself can only do a few songs here and there at this stage and I’m not that good at it. The final fret comes into play here for a total of five, the speed is faster, and you’re going to have lots of difficult notes to pick up. If you got the courage to do that, then perhaps you can jump up to Expert which is simply out of my league. All five frets will be played with a super fast speed that has double notes and split notes alike. I’ve tried it once or twice, but have yet to complete any song on Expert in any GH game.

But you see, it’s ok if I can’t master every level because I’m still able to enjoy the game and have fun with it at the lower two options.

Balance Rating: Enjoyable

Originality

This is not an area where GH Aerosmith excels because it’s just like every GH game to come along so far except that it has new songs. That’s it.

You can take it here as six of one or half a dozen of the other. If you have the first few games and are satisfied with them, then you probably wouldn’t need to get this game. That is especially true if you aren’t an Aerosmith fan. What fun would it be for you? You may love the game and playing the guitar, but there’s no sense in playing songs you despise. If you’re a fan of Aerosmith and want to see what it’s like for an animated Steven Tyler and company to jump around stage, then you’ve got what you want.

Middle of the road here because it all depends on what you’re looking for. Nothing new on one half, but brand new stuff on the other.

Originality Rating: Mediocre

Addictiveness

Have you ever heard someone recite a line from a film and it made you want to watch it so damn bad? How about when someone talks about riding a specific attraction at Six Flags or Walt Disney World and then you can’t wait to go on vacation there again? The same thing happens when it comes to any GH hero game. Play it a few times and go through a number of the songs in it. Then try to go through your day at work listening to the radio or hearing some music in your car as you travel to and fro. If a song pops up from Aerosmith or any artist you’ve played a song from, it’s going to get your fingers twitching for the fake guitar.

Seriously, it has happened to me everywhere I’ve gone. Songs from GH III that were played by Rage Against The Machine, Santana, and numerous others seemed to be on the radio constantly after I got the game. It is only a matter of time before Aerosmith blows up my radio by being on the rock, classic rock, alternative, metal, pop, and rap stations all at the same time. Then my fingers will start to curl into position and I’ll want to be at home jamming along with “Walk This Way” and “Rag Doll.”

Addictiveness Rating: Unparalleled

Appeal Factor

It all boils down to your taste in music here and that rings true with GH Aerosmith more then any of the others in the series so far. Rock Of The 80s and Legends Of Rock both had certain genres for their games but they had numerous artists and many different songs for everyone to enjoy. If you are not someone who likes Aerosmith, then you might as well wait until GH World Tour.

For me it was a no brainer that I’d pick this one up because Aerosmith to me are some musical gods. Almost every one of their albums has been in my collection at some point or another. I know the words to countless numbers of songs they perform. Hell, I even did a school project in high school senior English to “Angel.” That has to tell you that I’m a huge fan and the appeal of this game has been there for me ever since word of it first hit my ears long ago.

It’s a fun game and it has some great songs to enjoy so the appeal is going to be there for countless crowds and ages of people.

Appeal Factor: Very Good

Miscellaneous

Ok, let me just say that one of my biggest gripes here is the new thing added to the “star power.” Whenever you get your star power all loaded up, you can kick back on your guitar and make the screen erupt in a blue light and get double the points. It also makes for an echo to the song and for the Wiimote to vibrate the entire guitar. No problems there. What I don’t like is that the crowd now does an annoying “slow clap” during the entire star power. It’s not bad on rocking out songs when you can barely hear it over the music, but not on everything. On kick ass ballads like “Dream On,” the slow clap is just incredibly out of place and annoying.

Now it’s time to touch on my biggest gripe of the game and that involves this question; who the bloody hell chose which Aerosmith songs to include or not include here? Where is “Cryin’,” “Amazing,” “Hole In My Soul,” or “Crazy?” Better yet…where are “Dude Looks Like A Lady,” “Janie’s Got A Gun,” “Eat The Rich,” “Just Push Play,” and “Angel?” I just don’t get it. How can any of those songs be left out; let alone all of them? It doesn’t make any sense to me. You could have left out some of the damn cover songs or even a few of Aerosmith’s lesser known tracks and at least put a few of those in. What’s worse is that the load screens tease you by giving you little trivia tidbits on songs like “Just Push Play,” but you don’t get to play it.

One thing I can be thankful for is that “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” was mercifully left out.

Miscellaneous Rating: Mediocre

The Scores

Story: Above Average
Graphics: Enjoyable
Sound: Great
Control / Gameplay: Good
Replayability: Classic
Balance: Enjoyable
Originality: Mediocre
Addictiveness: Unparalleled
Appeal Factor: Very Good
Miscellaneous: Mediocre
Final Score: Good

Short Attention Span Summary

Man, I can’t even begin to tell you how much I was looking forward to this game and truly do enjoy it now that it is in my possession. It’s a lot of fun and just as addictive as GH III was when I was first introduced to it. But let me tell you that my disappointment ran incredibly deep as gameplay went on and more and more of the songs I expected to play weren’t there. All leaked playlists on the internet were avoided so that’d it be awesome to be surprised as each level produced cooler and cooler tracks. But then there was no “Janie. No “Dude.” No “Eat The Rich.” WTF man? GH Aerosmith is a good game, but it’s nothing more then filler until GH World Tour on October 27.

If ever a specific band version of GH comes out again, they’d better not drop the ball like this again. I mean they might as well make GH Queen and leave out “Fat Bottom Girls,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and “Under Pressure.”

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