Given the rampant success of music videogames, it’s no surprise enduring Hall-of-Famer Aerosmith is the first to score an eponymous “Guitar Hero” edition to reassert its relevance, reinvigorate old fans and find new ones. “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” is fairly successful at this goal, as it’s accessible to newbies and a good intro to the band. But true Aerosmith fans will be turned off that the game so often strays from the band’s career, and “Guitar Hero” purists will bemoan the lack of difficulty, which could lead to some disgruntled buyers for what’s essentially an overpriced expansion pack.
Levels are divided into in venues that the band played over the course of their rocket to fame, from a show at Nipmuc High School to the Super Bowl to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The player controls the digital Joe Perry and, surrounded by doppelgangers of Steven Tyler et al, follows the exact same gameplay formula last seen in “Guitar Hero III.” These stages are preceded by brief interview clips of the band reminiscing on the particular show, which helps to personalize the experience and get the uninitiated better acquainted.
In general, the song choice is not always ideal – the standout is the band’s famous mashup with Run DMC, “Walk This Way,” with its length, variegated patterns and numerous Guitar Hero-appropriate solos. But anyone even remotely familiar with the band will be annoyed that some of its most beloved tunes, like “Crazy,” “Dude Looks Like a Lady” and “Janie’s Got a Gun,” are left out.
The game has 19 Aerosmith songs and 12 songs from “opening bands,” rock acts ranging from the Clash to Stone Temple Pilots. Six more Aerosmith songs are unlockable, and there are also four tracks from Joe Perry’s solo career.
It feels a bit like the developers were aiming to avoid making a title solely for Aerosmith fans, but since players who dislike Aerosmith will surely skip this title regardless, why not go all-out? While the video interviews before each stage are a useful touch, it doesn’t really feel, with all the extra artists, like playing the band’s factual career arc. Song levels aren’t even offered in their chronological order – players can rock 1989’s “Love in an Elevator” before reaching 1974’s “Train Kept A-Rollin’ – which would have made the game more effective experientially.
“Guitar Hero” is famous for the hardcore challenges of its guitar licks, which inspire competitive online play and YouTube videos of “impossible” proficiency. “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” won’t ask the player for any such finger-blistering; it’s notably more gentle and accessible. Put bluntly, “Guitar Hero” purists will largely be bored and possibly annoyed that they spent $60 for a game with only 41 songs, considering that “Guitar Hero III” offered over 70 for the same price.
Nonetheless, it should be No Surprise if this “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” makes most players feel they enjoy Aerosmith’s music more than they realized they did, renewing older fans’ interest and turning on the younger ones.