X'11 - Rocksmith Hands-On Preview
By Mike Baggley (09.05.11)

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Music
NA Release Date: October 18th, 2011
Weblink: http://rocksmith.ubi.com/

Rocksmith was probably the biggest surprise of X’11 for the Extreme Gamer crew. It came out of nowhere and wowed all of us. Usually when you enter a show floor the first thing you want to do it make a bee-line for the heavy hitters. We already knew we were going to be checking out games like Skyrim, Assassin's Creed: Revelations and Mass Effect 3, so as soon as we walked in we started to make our way over there.

On our way, we saw something that made us turn our heads - someone holding a guitar. This wasn’t just any guitar, it was an actual Epiphone Les Paul Junior. Two of us on staff are guitar players so the sight of any guitar makes us turn our heads, especially at a video game show. We quickly stopped and made our way directly over to the booth to check out Rocksmith - a new game published by Ubisoft that’s coming out October 18th.

Although we were all big fans of Rockband and Guitar Hero when they were released, the fact that you weren’t actually learning to play an instrument made playing them a bit boring once you’d played through the songs a few times. The amazing thing about Rocksmith is that you’re learning to play songs on an actual guitar. You’ll be able to play songs note for note and have a virtual band backing you up. Any guitar with a pick-up will work whether its Electric or Acoustic. Ubisoft have a created a quarter-inch to USB cable that will packaged with the game to hook your guitar up to your PS3, XBOX, or PC. You can of course also purchase a package that comes with the Epiphone Les Paul Junior I mentioned earlier, which is a great guitar if you’re just starting to learn guitar.

Like other music/rhythm games, you can just choose to start with single notes and work your way up. Eventually you’ll be playing the entire song with chords and all. The really neat thing is that rather than picking a difficulty, the game will scale with you as you get better. If you start nailing every note, it’ll throw more at you and start to incorporate more strings. The interface was extremely easy to read, and if you’ve ever read tab notation before as a guitar player you’ll be instantly at home.

There are a lot of different tones you can achieve in terms of amp and pedal simulation and they sound great. Each song has a specific tone that it will use, but you can also make use of 3 preset slots to create your own combination of amp. speakers, pedals, and even microphone and microphone placement in from of the amp. It’s extremely powerful. All of the most popular gear has been recreated like Marshall, Vox, and Fender amps, although they aren’t labeled as such in the game. However, if you’ve been in to guitar for even a few years, you’ll recognize them right away.

This is an incredibly excited new music game experience and we can’t wait for it to be released. As guitar players, we’re excited to have a new reason to pick up our axes every day without having to get a whole band together. October 18th can’t come soon enough.