Guitar Hero has certainly come a long way. I remember when it was nothing more than a fairly novel looking game that didn't have nearly enough stock when it arrived in the UK months after its US debut. Now it seems a new game in the series is released every few months and it's one of the most popular series of the moment. Before the end of 2008 we'll see the next proper sequel in the shape of Guitar Hero World Tour, but Guitar Hero: Aerosmith has arrived to fill the gap, if there was a gap to fill.
GH: Aerosmith features a total of 40 tracks, 30 of which are from the iconic band headed by Steven Tyler. Being a game about guitars the focus here is on Joe Perry, the band's guitarist. I'm not nearly musically savvy enough to know why this is, but the tracks on GH: Aerosmith aren't nearly as tough as those in GH:3. For anyone coming to this after putting in considerable time with the series over the past few years, the set list will be a walk in the park. For Aerosmith fans this probably won't matter, and newcomers will most likely appreciate the lowered difficulty, but if you want a challenge this isn't the game for you.
To get the most out of the game you'll really need to be a fan of the titular band. The career mode follows their career, seeing you perform at various landmark gigs throughout their climb into the music hall of fame. Various interviews with the band are spliced into the career and the virtual band members look close enough to their real-life counterparts - even if their movement looks a little stiff. The Aerosmith licence has certainly been used well, but perhaps not as well as it could have been.
Ten tracks in the game are from bands other than Aerosmith, which wouldn't be a problem had some of those not been covers. Considering there isn't going to be any DLC for GH: Aerosmith (you can't download DLC intended for GH:3 or use any of your already downloaded tracks) the included track list is all you're going to get. Add to that the fact that you're paying full price for this and you can be legitimately disappointed. Perhaps this was asking for too much, but what if Aerosmith had covered the additional tracks in the game? That would have made for a game all fans would have wanted.
Outside of the fact that most of the music comes from Aerosmith there's very little to set this apart from the previous games. Game modes, both online and offline are the same, the guitars are the same with the addition of some of Joe Perry's collection, and most of the characters are carried over from GH:3 too. While GH: Aerosmith certainly feels like a better game than the incredibly disappointing PlayStation 2 only GH: Rocks the 80s, it's still a stop-gap game that offers little that couldn't have been delivered as downloadable content for GH3.
With World Tour due later this year we can't help but wonder if Activision would have been better off releasing Aerosmith with support for full band play. Steven Tyler is one of the most recognisable front men in the history of music, yet he only plays a bit part in the game because you can't take on the vocals. You can definitely have fun on just guitars, but it's almost begging for someone to be belting out the vocals.
Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is a fun albeit rather easy and forgettable experience. The price of entry seems a tad too steep and the career will be breezed through by anyone who's got any experience with previous games in the series. Oversights, like not being able to access downloaded GH:3 tracks, are baffling and the number of covers for non-Aerosmith tracks is disappointing. For die-hard GH and Aerosmith fans it's a no-brainer, but everyone else might want to save their money for World Tour.