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Games

The Question of Challenge (or the Lack Thereof) in Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

Hopefully, fans of the Guitar Hero franchise who are also inclined to visit this here site have already seen Ryan Smith's review of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, which as far as my experience with the game goes is right on the money. Still, as an admitted Guitar Hero junkie myself (which sounds extreme, but there's really no other way to put it), I'm compelled to offer two more observations about the game.

The battle with Joe Perry is easier than any battle
in Guitar Hero III!

The first of these observations is exclusive to the Xbox 360 version of the game: the achievements. Just in case anyone was concerned that Neversoft wasn't keeping up with the forum buzz, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith directly addresses one of the chief complaints of critics of Guitar Hero III: namely, that the game as a whole (and the set of goals laid out by the achievements in particular) is just too damn hard. I'm pretty good at Guitar Hero games, but I'm not so good that I expect to blow through the expert career in the second night that I own the game. As if to say "sorry for expecting you to score 750,000 on anything, and oh, also sorry for thinking you could snag a perfect score on 20 different expert-level tracks", the achievements are quite obviously designed for the novice. The most difficult of the achievements are only so for their unpredictability (like the one that forces you to win in sudden death in a battle mode match), and the skill-based achievements don't even require a score of 500,000 (325,000 on "Train Kept a Rollin'" never really feels out of reach). Experienced players with a little bit of time on their hands will have a cool 1,000/1,000 points in under a week. This could be a boon for some players, but in a $60 game, exhausting the achievement list that quick feels a bit like a gyp.

All I'm saying is that it seems a bit strange that Guitar Hero II still seems to have the best idea of a balance of easy, tough-but-doable, and nigh-impossible achievements when two iterations of the franchise have been released since.

Seriously -- this is as hard as "Dream On" gets.

The other thing that strikes one as odd about Guitar Hero: Aerosmith is the difficulty spread of the songs. Of particular note is "Dream On", which actually occupies a spot in the second-to-last tier of songs, which should suggest that it's a difficult but far from impossible song. Still, it's a placement that caused some concern in the community given that "Dream On" was released as downloadable content for Guitar Hero III to promote the upcoming Aerosmith version, and quickly gained a reputation as one of the easiest songs Guitar Hero has ever offered. It hasn't changed a bit from that downloadable version in Guitar Hero III, and it feels even easier as part of the penultimate grouping of songs. Again, some players might be pleased that they get a bit of a break in the form of one of Aerosmith's most famous and celebrated songs, but those looking for any semblance of a challenge are, again, bound to be disappointed.

Totaled up, the challenge of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith simply isn't enough in a number of ways, particularly for the person most likely to pick this up; that is, the Guitar Hero veteran who's looking for 40 or so new songs to play. For someone who's never played Guitar Hero, however, someone who happens to be drawn to the franchise for the first time by the featured band, it will be perfect.

Unfortunately, that preferred target of the Guitar Hero: Aerosmith buying constituency will very likely be a rather pronounced minority.

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