Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

I grew up listening to radio stations that said things like: “The HOME *sound of explosions* of classic rock and roll” or “From AC/DC to Zeppelin *sound of freaking laserbeams* all rock, all the time.” So, when Neversoft decided to print more money by making another Guitar Hero game, thus solidifying their strategy of riding the franchise until the wheels fly off and then skidding along on shredded axles that much farther, they may have had a picture of me at sixteen with my sullen expression peeking through moppy brown hair while sporting a Permanent Vacation t-shirt hanging all the wrong ways right on their desks when they pegged Aerosmith as a partner.

It comes as no surprise that the most overexposed gaming franchise of the past few years has teamed up with a group like Aerosmith, a quintet that is more brand than band. I imagine that someone from Activision called Aerosmith’s manager, said “hey, do your guys like money?” and moments later the manager pulled the pre-signed forms from the Sell-Out file to fax right over, thus preserving a legacy of mediocrity.

Honestly, I can think of no better band to be associated with the absolute pabulum that has become Guitar Hero than Aerosmith, a band once edgy and great, awash in all that was beautiful about rock and roll, and which has become a self-absorbed shadow of itself. Except maybe those whores in Metallica.

Playing Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is a lot like listening to an Aerosmith song, and in more than the most painfully obvious way. There is talent at work here, though it is masked in ill-conceived decisions that constantly dodge out of the way of oncoming awesomeness. The fundamental experience of playing GH:A is in no meaningful way enhanced from the experience of Guitar Hero 3, which is not a good thing.

Having completed the game on Expert, I conclude with some disappointment that the note chart continues to feel as though it was created at random by someone who has never played guitar, has never listened to music and possesses not even a basic understanding of the mechanics of the human hand. So, naturally, the hit detection must, by necessity, give even spastic tremors the benefit of the doubt despite whatever epileptic seizure you impart onto the colored frets. You don’t necessarily have to correctly play the song, just some sort of interpretive impression of it.

Also making an unwanted comeback is the inclusion of a guitar face-off with Joe Perry (he’s plays lead guitar for Aerosmith; the one who doesn’t look like a fish that got stuck in a vacuum cleaner) including all the annoying power-ups and wankery that virtually everyone seemed to agree was crap in the previous game. Fortunately there is only one such face-off, a stubborn and pointless exercise that seems obviously half-hearted in its implementation, included out of what I assume be a vicious sense of spite.

I realize that it sounds as though I hated GH:A, and that’s not precisely true, though it’s not precisely untrue either. The game is just so unabashedly mainstream, that it reinforces my impression that the real heart of the Guitar Hero franchise left with the departure of Harmonix, leaving publisher Activision to cobble together a Frankenstein replacement from the brain of an economist, the heart of a marketing exec and the soul of Lou Pearlman.

I feel like there’s a comparison to be made here between developer Neversoft’s Tony Hawk franchise—itself endlessly rehashed, repackaged and bereft of anything approaching credibility—and EA’s Skate. Neversoft, while a terrible pretender to Harmonix’s throne, is a perfect choice for Activision’s vision of an endless parade of Guitar Hero products with peripherals that won’t work on other games, an apparent contempt for its customers and the need to rebuy the same songs again and again.

That said, GH:A has a smattering of songs that are fun to play. Living on the Edge and Dream On are both appealing enough Aerosmith songs where the hamfisted note charts get in the way slightly less than normal. The game tries to avoid some of the more overdone Aerosmith songs, which is admirable enough I suppose, though seems to fly in the face of everything else about the product. I can, however, die happy having not been forced to listen to I Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing again. Unfortunately, the game is never more vulnerable to criticism than when it offers a song that is also available on EA’s Rock Band, underscoring the chasm in quality between the two games.

For reasons I can’t fully explain, though, the most annoying feature in Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is the interviews with band members between sets. Between Steven Tyler describing being fisted by Adam Sandler and Joe Perry's muddled monotone anecdotes while cuddling up to a Guitar Hero controller, as if trying to offer us solace in the guise of credibility for our ill-advised purchase, I found any lingering fandom from my teenage years sublimating like exposed ice on the face of Mars. Guitar Hero: Aerosmith will hopefully serve as evidence that a single band can become tiresome even in the game named after it, a lesson that should have been learned back in the eighties when Journey attempted to base an arcade game on their band’s exploits in space, or in the mid-nineties when the abysmal light-gun shooter Revolution X was released featuring …

Oh wait, AEROSMITH!

Comments

a lesson that should have been learned back in the eighties when Journey attempted to base an arcade game on their band’s exploits in space

Slow down there-- I liked that game! Admittedly I was probably 10 or so, but it wasn't that bad.

I have to agree, Guitar Hero and Aerosmith do seem to deserve each other at this point.

I'm wondering at what point Activision will realize that Neversoft was a horrible choice for the franchise.

While I don't play on Expert, even on Hard some of the note selections are right along "You gotta be f%$&ing kiddin' me!"

Unfortunately, it's probably too late. I'm sure World Tour is already under development and in the firm but uninspired hand of Neversoft.

Good job, Activision. You've taken my favorite franchise and convinced me I should have followed its creators to Rock Band. Not to worry, I'll be doing just that very soon.

I still liked the game, but it's obvious that the quality is just going to continue to degrade. They said they listened to criticism this time around, but it felt like the response wasn't a better game but rather a giant middle finger to anyone who dared complain and some half-hearted changes.

I don't know why, but about half way through I realized I was reading your article in the voice and cadence of Yahtzee.

For tomorrow's homework, I will listen to 5 consecutive podcasts and then re-read the article with the correct Sean Sands inner voice.

Except maybe those whores in Metallica.

I would be suprised if there wasn't a GH:Metallica already in the works.

If there was a GH:Metallica, I wonder if you would have to play at the expert level at the start then work your way through the years to the easy mode - just like the real band did!

Syldar wrote:
Except maybe those whores in Metallica.

I would be suprised if there wasn't a GH:Metallica already in the works.

If there was a GH:Metallica, I wonder if you would have to play at the expert level at the start then work your way through the years to the easy mode - just like the real band did!

There is and that second part is just plain brilliant. You get one (1) gold star.

Syldar wrote:

I would be suprised if there wasn't a GH:Metallica already in the works.

The game's got a new feature that Activision is excited about. You pay everytime you play through the song! It's like downloadable content, except there's nothing to download!

If you play on easy, you're encouraged to make mixtapes to spread to your friends. But once you hit medium to hard, you confiscate the tapes and threaten your friends with litigation.

Ouch. No, Elysium, tell us what you really thought...

kaostheory wrote:

I don't know why, but about half way through I realized I was reading your article in the voice and cadence of Yahtzee.

"wankery". That's why.

Oh, I'm pumped for GH: Nickelback, or perhaps GH: Creed.

Dunno...I guess I see them all in the same vein...

Syldar wrote:
Except maybe those whores in Metallica.

I would be suprised if there wasn't a GH:Metallica already in the works.

If there was a GH:Metallica, I wonder if you would have to play at the expert level at the start then work your way through the years to the easy mode - just like the real band did!

God bless you sir. Brilliant!

Quote wrote:

... or in the mid-nineties when the abysmal light-gun shooter Revolution X was released ...

Hey, I liked that game. i was good at it too.
What other game do you get to fight a Playboy Bunny in the final boss battle?

Never played GH. Is it possible to have negative interest in a game?

That said, I read, and enjoyed, the entirety of the review. Wonderful work Mr. Sands.

I rented this on Sunday for a lark. I haven't played plastic guitar in nearly 6 months, so I figured medium would be a decent start. As Elysium mentioned the hit detection is generous and I ended up with 100% and 5 different achievements on the first track.

I played through the first 4 venues (20 songs?) and found myself bored silly. I'd say it's meeting my low expectations.

Great Review Sean!

I have to say, it would be difficult at best to "drum up" (sorry) any interest in this game.
Aerosmith died for me right around "Done with Mirrors", and only lasted that long because of Joe Perry's re-joining the band.

I have never gotten into the whole Air-Guitar inspired genre of video games - but if I did I would try Rock Band first.

Now maybe a game based solely on the drumming...?

Judge_Digger wrote:
Quote wrote:

... or in the mid-nineties when the abysmal light-gun shooter Revolution X was released ...

Hey, I liked that game. i was good at it too.
What other game do you get to fight a Playboy Bunny in the final boss battle?

Man you must have gone through several rolls of quarters to get to that level. I never got past the Executives in the office level (I think). Was never a huge Aerosmith fan. I left the GH series at numero deux. Rock Band lights my inner rock fire nowadays. It's a blast playing songs with my kids that I used to listen to when I was their age.

endless parade of Guitar Hero products with peripherals that won’t work on other games

Easy there. They won't allow other peripherals to work with Guitar Hero games, but their guitars work just fine on Rock Band.

i rented this on Thursday and finished it yesterday. On hard difficulty, I only 4 starred the last 2 songs, every other song was 5 stars and 2 100% (even though I 'm sure I missed a note on both those songs). It was enjoyable at first but then became a chore halfway through. "Walk this Way" was the most fun to play. I'm still amazed they charged full price but then again its Activision.

Honestly, I can think of no better band to be associated with the absolute pabulum that has become Guitar Hero than Aerosmith, a band once edgy and great, awash in all that was beautiful about rock and roll, and which has become a self-absorbed shadow of itself. Except maybe those whores in Metallica.

I'm finding myself falling in (a manly) love with Elysium. Hopefully Rob will be back on form tomorrow so i can bestow my affections on him instead, i'm not sure Elysium wants what i'm giving

I was considering buying this for my mum and her partner since they adore GH 1 and 2... but i think you've (correctly) disuaded me from doing so.

wordsmythe wrote:
endless parade of Guitar Hero products with peripherals that won’t work on other games

Easy there. They won't allow other peripherals to work with Guitar Hero games, but their guitars work just fine on Rock Band.

Not on PS3 (arms folded emote not included here).

Also, btw,

elysium wrote:

Honestly, I can think of no better band to be associated with the absolute pabulum that has become Guitar Hero than Aerosmith, a band once edgy and great, awash in all that was beautiful about rock and roll, and which has become a self-absorbed shadow of itself. Except maybe those whores in Metallica.

That last line was a spit-take. Yet another keyboard covered in coffee.

Duoae wrote:

I'm finding myself falling in (a manly) love with Elysium. Hopefully Rob will be back on form tomorrow so i can bestow my affections on him instead, i'm not sure Elysium wants what i'm giving ;)

Fetch forth the pillow of heterosexuality!

Except maybe those whores in Metallica.

yes, the band that I admired and respected SO much in the 80s, who sold out and (after seeing Some Kind of Monster) apparently lost their freakin minds. >_<

Except maybe those whores in Metallica.

I'm not the first to say it, but it needs to be said:

I love you.

Surprisingly enough (or maybe not shocking at all), Game Informer had an announcement for GH: Metalica in this months issue. I feel decidedly blah about it.