gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Guitar Hero: Aerosmith – Xbox 360

Aerosmith Xbox 360 cover artReview by Johnus Maximus

Released in June 2008, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is the first expansion game for the hugely popular Guitar Hero series which focuses on the career of one of America’s most successful rock and roll bands. Developed by Neversoft and published by Activision, the game is also available for the Wii, the PS3 and the PS2.

The game has a smaller range of songs than Guitar Hero 3 but thanks to a slightly better difficulty curve and the Behind The Music documentary style setting; this game is a lot of fun!

For the uninitiated, Guitar Hero has been rocking consoles since 2005. Using a guitar shaped controller with 5 coloured buttons and a strum bar the aim of the game is to control your virtual guitarist by hitting the correct button that corresponds to the coloured note icons that scroll down an onscreen fret board. Doing this correctly you build up a score multiplier, please the crowd and hopefully complete the song, earning you some cash to put towards buying new outfits and guitars for your rocker, as well as extra songs.

When it was announced that there were to be a series of spinoff Guitar Hero titles, I was a bit dubious as to how much fun playing lots of songs by just one band would be for someone who isn’t a particularly big fan of that band. While the forthcoming Guitar Hero: Metallica was something I expected to like, I was not expecting to enjoy the Aerosmith game. To my surprise I was wrong, I really had a blast.

There are quite a few playable modes in the game, for both solo play and multiplayer fun. The single player experience is the career mode and for multiplayer you can choose from a co-operative career, faceoff mode where whoever the crowd likes most wins and also battle mode where you use deadly power-ups to make your opponent fail. The multiplayer experience can be either locally, using another controller, or on Xbox Live where you can participate in social or ranked games.

now performing in your living room
Steven Tyler and Joe Perry: now performing in your living room

The single player career mode is broken up into 31 songs across six stages, each stage is preceded by a short video with each of the band members talking about the venue, the music and the attitude of the band at that time. You follow the early footsteps of the band when they played Nipmuc High School, then later getting noticed at Max’s Kansas City, playing the Orpheum Theatre in Boston, pleasing international fans in Moscow, keeping the crowd warm at Superbowl 35 half-time show and then onto the final stage where the band gets inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Each of the stages begins with your choice of the Guitar Hero characters playing two songs by other bands, kind of like the warm up act. If you complete these the crowd will chant “Aerosmith, Aerosmith” and so to massive applause, fireworks and weeping young girls on come the band everyone paid to see. At this point you get to take control of Joe Perry, the lead guitarist and complete two of Aerosmiths songs. Finally you will get cheered on for an encore, usually one of the better known songs, and once complete you move onto the next stage.

As with the previous GH games you can choose from four different skill levels depending on your ability with the guitar. Each skill level offers an increased amount of reward for completing the songs, as you get paid in cash for how well you did. This cash can be spent in The Vault, where a plethora of unlockable goodies awaits you. In addition to the 8 characters from Guitar Hero you can also unlock Joe, Brad and Tom from Aerosmith as well as DMC, who you get to rock with in “Walk This Way”

Turn it up to 11 and show the crowd how to rock

Extended versions of the videos you see during the career mode are available as well, which after unlocking and watching it made me wonder why they didn’t just show the full videos as the stuff they edited out was actually quite interesting and you hear a bit more from each band member. Sadly the videos suffer from a lot of visible digital noise and I really think they could have been produced to a higher standard. In addition to the characters and videos, The Vault also offers new guitars, guitar finishes, clothing and colour schemes for each character.

If you’re new to the game there is a handy Tutorial mode where the “god” and “devil” of Rock and Roll guide you through the basic controls and mechanics of the game. For those having trouble with a particular song, or like me finding it hard to adjust from playing Medium to Hard there is a Practise mode that lets you play through full songs or specific sections until you’re satisfied you can pull off them tricky licks. You can even vary the speed which the song plays if that helps you to learn.

Playing the multiplayer games can be fun, especially the co-op career mode. It’s easier to get set up and playing if you have someone in the room with you, if you don’t have another guitar controller you can use the standard Xbox controller, it’s a bit strange at first but relatively easy to pickup. Failing that there are plenty of forums you can go on to arrange a game if you’re not having luck getting matched with someone automatically, for example the official Guitar Hero community forum.

A big pat on the back has to go to the animation staff because they have really captured the likeness of the band members. You can tell that a lot of motion-capture work was undertaken to get the movements and mannerisms of the band this realistic. If you’re able to sit back and watch while someone else plays you appreciate things like when Steven Tyler stalks the cameraman around the stage, when he leans over Joe Perrys shoulder or just when he’s rocking his microphone stand about.

Sliding about the stage like a schoolboy at a wedding reception

The choice of songs in the game is fairly well rounded, you’re not going to hear every single one of Aerosmiths biggest hits – so thankfully no “I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing” – but there are some notably great songs present – “Sweet Emotion”, “Love in an Elevator” and “Walk This Way” are probably my favourite ones. Also the non-Aerosmith tracks hold some treasures – “She Sells Sanctuary” and “All The Young Dudes” are absolutely brilliant!

One thing I didn’t like about the game was the lack of integration with the existing Guitar Hero downloadable content. It would have been cool to play the songs I have on my hard drive with one of the new characters or guitars, but sadly the game limits you to the songs on that are present on the disc. On the whole though it was only that and the between stage video quality that I found disappointing, the rest of the game was really good, if a little short overall.

It may seem like an obvious proposition but I would totally recommend this game to someone who either already knows they like music games, or someone who likes Aerosmith. As well as being available in Solus (game only) format you can also get it bundled with a wireless guitar controller, so you won’t need a copy of Guitar Hero 3 to play this game, but if you already do then you could get the bundle and have a 2nd guitar for your friends to rock with.

Guitar Hero: Aerosmith scores a respectable 4 “dudes that look like ladies” out of 5.

4 stars

Thursday, August 14th, 2008, Computer Gaming, Featured, Xbox 360.