‘Guitar Hero: Aerosmith’ Lowdown — Why The Boston Band Is Getting Its Own Game

Game's producer explains musicians' involvement and differences between 'GH: A' and 'GH III.'

Earlier this week, game developers from Activison came through New York City to show off the upcoming “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” game and to answer the question “Why Aerosmith?”

A single band has never had a version of the best-selling “Guitar Hero” game to itself. But Aersomith, at least in name, is getting just that. Aaron Habibipour, a producer on the game, told MTV News that the famous Boston band got the gig because they are one of the top-five “holy grail” groups, according to music fans polled by Activision.

Technically, “Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” — which ships for the Xbox 360, PS2, PS3 and Wii in June — isn’t just Aersomith. The game will feature more than 40 songs, with 60 percent being hits from the band’s decades-long career. The other 40 percent will be from Aersomith contemporaries like Cheap Trick and Mott the Hoople. The Aerosmith songs will all be masters, except for three, including “Make It” and “Movin’ Out,” which the band rerecorded for the game.

Since “GH III” came out just last fall , it’s logical to assume that the “Aerosmith” version is just a moderately tweaked version of “III.” Habibipour said “Aersomith” is not simply a reskinned version of “III,” noting that new costumes for “GH III” characters appearing in “Aerosmith” have been added, six new venues have been created for the game, and the menus and interfaces have been redone. Difficulty levels have also been tweaked. “We went back and retuned the game so it was back to where people felt it needed to be,” Habibipour said. That doesn’t mean the game has been dramatically altered — “medium is not the old easy” — but the developers listened to “GH III” players who felt like the game might have had too many brick walls for casual fans.

“Guitar Hero: Aerosmith” features six venues, the first based on Nipmuc Regional High School where the band played its first gig more than 30 years ago. The other venues are based on the band’s albums, including a stage with a giant jack-in-the-box inspired by Toys in the Attic. New York club Max’s Kansas City was also recreated as a venue.

Lead singer Steven Tyler did motion capture of his stage moves and facial expressions. The camera that filmed him was also motion-captured, so that the game can render moments like when Tyler grabs it. Guitarist Joe Perry selected the guitars for each set.

One of the additions from “III,” boss battles against the likes of Slash and Tom Morello, won’t be as apparent in “Aerosmith.” The developer said there will be only one boss battle, though he wouldn’t say who it’s against (nor does he deny that it’s hard to guess).

The new game has been in development since last year, before “III” was completed. It was helped along into existence by the fact that Joe Perry’s son is a big “Guitar Hero” fan. According to Habibipour, Perry saw his son playing an earlier “Guitar Hero” and wanted to know why Aerosmith wasn’t a part of it. When Activision was looking to include an Aerosmith song in “GH III” — and wasn’t happy with a cover version that was available — Perry himself called up to volunteer his involvement.

Centering a game on the band made sense, Habibipour said, but he clarified that band-specific “Guitar Hero” games do not represent the sole future of the franchise. “It’s its own path,” he said. Band-specific “GH” games and full “GH” sequels can co-exist, he said, in parallel paths of development.

“Guitar Hero: Aersomith” ships in June, the same month that the series’ DS debut, “Guitar Hero: On Tour” ships. The PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game were developed by Neversoft, which took the reins from series founder Harmonix on “Guitar Hero III.” The Wii and PS2 versions were developed by Vicarious Visions and Budcat Creations, respectively.

(To see a list of all of Aersomith’s master and cover-track appearances in “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” games, check out MTV’s Rhythm Game Track Finder.)

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