Rocksmith is not actually a game like we know in the general sense, rather more of a learning aid for aspiring electric and bass guitarists among us gamers. So if you want something akin to Guitar Hero / Rock Band look else where and I can’t stress this enough. While there are some similarities – playing x number of songs scoring high enough to unlock the next venue and set lists, following notes falling down the screen - you really need to want to learn a real instrument to get the maximum enjoyment Ubisoft intends.
Thanks to a unique lead which is a 1/4“ jack to USB, it allows for very accurate input of any real guitar and with some rock magic the game knows what notes you are playing and it does it almost perfectly. I have played both the electric (bundled) and bass (my own) guitars on the game and only really noticed a couple of issues with the bass. When I wanted to sustain notes it seamed to have occasional issues holding the sustain even though the note still played on the bass, other than that though things are running smoothly.
This game is well designed when it comes to new guitarists as it will take you through everything from how to hold pick etc. Something that is very impressive is the in-song difficulty adjustments that the game makes depending on how well you are playing. Starting with the lowest difficulty - usually about a note every 4-5 seconds - this increases as you get better. When it becomes too difficult, it will lower the setting again. Long time guitarists might find this a little frustrating to begin with but it will set to your difficulty in no time. Playing through career mode will gain XP and unlock new pedals, amps and guitars for use. This is useful when using the TV as a standard amplifier allowing you to play anything you desire.
As far as the on screen chart is concerned, following the note trails to where your finger positions should be is not as difficult as you may think. After about half an hour to an hour I was able to grasp where my fingers should be and got used to the game scrolling up and down the on-screen guitar neck. Ubisoft have given you stickers to put on the neck of guitars to help you out. Knowing what strings to pluck is easy as they are colour coded, the only hard part is learning the frets on the guitar and mastering hand positioning. Take the time to practice this and you will be on your way to rock stardom in time.
When you are not playing career mode you can freely play any of the 50+ songs on disc as well as DLC. Using the Rift Repeater option you can break each song up into intro, verses, solos and outros, learned in one of three modes: Free Play, The Leveller and The Accelerator. The most interesting mode is The Accelerator where the game will speed up or slow down depending on how well your guitar playing is becoming, and remember this is all in real-time. There are also 12 specific individual techniques to learn, and once successful you can then go for gold medal scoring points. Next we have the very addictive and retro style mini-games which help improve techniques, although the games are required to be unlocked. Ducks a sort of mix between Galaga and Duck Hunt focuses on fret placement, where as other mini-games focus on scale patterns to mixing up chord playing having you kill zombies (Yeah even zombies can become wanna be groupies).
Bundled Guitar Review
Now since it was the Guitar bundle I bought its only fair that I do a quick review of the guitar you get. If you haven’t already seen it you will want to check out our un-boxing video so you can see the guitar in the flesh so to speak. Given that the game retails for about the £50 mark, you are essentially paying about £75 for the guitar so nothing legendary but still a worthy purchase and from one of the most reputable guitar makers. It is the Epiphone Les Paul Junior, single pickup guitar, with one tone and one master volume. So far it is sounding and playing great and I have had no DOA issues or other issues what so ever. As well as the USB cable you also get a normal cable for hooking the guitar up to an amplifier along with an alan key. As Epiphone is part of Gibson you also benefit from their Limited Lifetime Warranty (although very limited) it could still come in handy. For a better guitar you are looking nearer the £200 mark including the game.
The Good Things
- A great learning tool for those who have a genuine interest in learning guitar.
- Beats Guitar Hero and Rock Band hands down, except for the song library, but that will come in time.
- Impressively adapts in-song to your skill level always slowly increasing the difficulty the better you play.
- Use your TV as a normal amp with various pedals etc.
- Mini-games are bloody addictive and fun.
And The Bad
- As with any music game there is lag which is adjustable, although Ubisoft recommend an external sound source for the best lag free experience.
- No Online Multiplayer.
- You have to tune the guitar before every song, but this does mean that you don’t have to worry about being out of tune.
- Dear God the blisters!!! Hint - use lemon juice and vinegar (not a lot though) to harden the skin on the fingers.
To be honest this was close to getting the first ever XLC Gaming Networks perfect score. This game has certainly expanded my interest in not only playing but improving upon my newly learned electric guitar skills. I will keep using this game to help with my techniques and mastering the songs on both bass and electric guitar, as well using other resources to further my knowledge even more. With your time, patience and effort you will be playing the songs the game has on a real amp. Who knows this game could be your inspiration to go professional.
The only things stopping this from getting the perfect score is the games menu system being frustrating at times and not all songs support bass play. To combat the bass issue a slightly better song choice would have been the way to go. I would have liked more songs on disc to try and rival that of the likes of Rock Band but hopefully we will see a steady increase in DLC. While I didn’t know a lot of the songs included, they are great to play and I have even found a few new songs that I now like. If you want the best guitar playing experience on your home console which will also have you playing when you turn it off, you need this game! I also love the fact that after each song you get the option to sit back and listen to what you actually sound like. As Meat Loaf says “Never ever stop rocking”.
Brings real world guitar playing to a whole new level on your games console.