I bought Rocksmith a couple of months ago for PC and so far I have around 12 hours played time on it. A lot of people have asked me if I consider it a tool that can actually develop a players ability and the short answer is…sort of. Here’s my Rocksmith game review…
Before it’s release I remember reading about this game that was going to put Guitar Hero to shame in terms of emulating an authentic guitar experience (lets be honest I don’t think the makers of guitar hero were going for that angle anyway). I waited a couple of weeks for some reviews to come in before buying it and what I read was generally encouraging so I paid out and plugged in. Rocksmith is available on Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and PC.
The interface at first is a little confusing, I was seeing numbers and trying to play them (only to realize these are the fret numbers not the notes needed to be played… doh!). After an hour or so I was familiar with the different techniques and how they are represented, such as a white ‘X’ within the note indicating it must be palm muted. The color coding of the strings becomes very helpful as you familiarize yourself with them and it does make playing the songs easier and allows you to react faster. The inbuilt tuner is perfectly adequate considering the amount of distortion used on most of the songs, but I did notice a small discrepancy between what the screen would read and the pitch my guitar tuner was telling me.
There’s a fantastic selection of artists and songs available in the game ready to play whenever you want on the single song mode, or you can go through the rather enjoyable career type mode where you play a selection of songs in a practice environment, then play them again at a concert. If you do well at these performances, the crowd call you back for an encore or two which provides a satisfying experience. As you level up you play in venues of increasing size and go from a small bar act to a stadium filling headliner. If you run out of songs to play or your favorite band doesn’t make an appearance, there is downloadable content available at a small cost and you can buy single songs or packs of 3 tunes from various bands.
The arcade games are fun and can serve as a nice little breather between playing some of the more demanding songs. They are particularly good for new guitar players as they definitely do help to teach you chords and scales, set within mini-games where the objective is to usually last as long as possible or go as long as you can without making a few mistakes.
I have two main issues with the game however, the first is that while the dynamically changing difficulty is good in theory, it can also be a big inconvenience if you want to learn the songs at a fixed difficulty. I was struggling with a certain section in a particular song, and because of this it kept making the following verse too easy (due to many errors and missed notes) whereas I wanted to be able to play that verse properly. What then happens is because you played the reduced difficulty section perfectly (not hard to hit a few notes every ten seconds), it increases in difficulty again for the bit you are struggling as it comes back and you get stuck in this cycle. It would have been great if Ubisoft allowed you to toggle the dynamic difficulty on or off and set it to your preferred level, same with the chords vs single notes vs combination.
The second issue I have is the very small delay between what you are playing to actually process and come out of the speakers. Now this may just be my computer or perhaps only a PC version issue, but I have tried many steps to eradicate this lag with no joy. Hitting the notes are no problem if you adapt, but it’s very discomforting to hear what you are playing on a delay and it takes a certain skill to preemptively hit the strings a fraction of a second before you instinctively want to, to be in time with the backing track. Again I stress this could just be something on my end so do some homework if you’re concerned. EDIT: After editing a file within the install of the game I have reduced the lag and it’s almost goes unnoticed. Hurray! I also did some reading and found that the lag does not exist on console versions so don’t let it put you off.
Despite these flaws, Rocksmith is a great game and currently one of a kind. Ubisoft took a big risk developing a game for such a small target audience (when comparing to the bigger game titles) and for that I applaud them and glad to have purchased the game. It truly can help people learn to play, the fact you need a real guitar and the physical act of plucking strings and holding down frets makes this ideal for newcomers to the instrument, and for more advanced players there are some great songs to learn. I was surprised to find myself remembering riffs to songs from memory while not playing the game – clear evidence I myself have learned new things. Let’s hope more games come out using this technology and build upon what Ubisoft have started. 8.5/10