Or: Guitar Hero III+ featuring Aerosmith.
If you're expecting to see any big new features or amazing technological breakthroughs in Activision's immediate next Guitar Hero game, you need to lower your expectations now. What I've seen during some hands-on time with Guitar Hero: Aerosmith basically confirms what most people have figured out already: it's mostly just Guitar Hero III with Aerosmith, their songs, and their likenesses put into the game.
This means that there aren't any new modes or gameplay features that you haven't already seen in the Wii version of Guitar Hero III. It still features a career mode. There are still the two-player modes, with face-off, co-op, and battle variations. It still has online play versus friends or against random players. It will still not have downloadable songs. (That will come in Guitar Hero: World Tour.)
What Guitar Hero Aerosmith will have, however, is improved character models, venues, animations, and more graphical pop than GHIII. Vicarious Visions, developer of the Wii versions of Guitar Hero, was able to build GH: Aerosmith from the ground up to best work on the console. Guitar Hero III Wii was released concurrently with the other console versions, but it was more of a "port" of the PlayStation 2 version than a version made specifically for the Wii.
Check out Guitar Hero: Aerosmith for Wii in action.
The Wii version of Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, therefore, looks leaps and bounds better than the previous game. From what I was able to see with my hands-on, everything was better animated, venues felt more alive, and Aerosmith themselves really looked like they belong in the game. Steven Tyler's lips and plastic face translate well to his digital doppelgänger. It's all the more believable when he looks into camera from the on-stage view, even shaking the camera around or putting his hand into it while he sings. Characters also interact with each other, which is something you never saw in the previous games.
It also appears that some of the “phantom strum” gameplay issues have been ironed out, although that's hard to say for certain given less than an hour of total playtime. In terms of difficulty, I found some of the middle-tier songs on expert a fair challenge, probably about the same difficulty as concurrent songs in Guitar Hero III. Top-end difficulty is still a question mark at this point, since Activision only gave us access to the first 25 songs. (For a confirmed list of songs in Guitar Hero: Aerosmith check out our new preview.)
The song selection choices, as you'd expect, are dominated by Aerosmith music. If you're a fan of the band or like a few of their songs, chances are high that you'll like the majority of the music featured in the game. Although Aerosmith has some fairly diverse music for a rock group, I still wonder whether or not a Guitar Hero game centered on a single band, as popular as that band may be, will have the same longevity or replay value as those with more varied song selections. Still, there are a lot of fans of Aerosmith, and to them, it probably isn't going to matter.