* Best Party/Group Game of 2011 * Most Innovative Game of 2011 * Made in Canada Award 2011
If you happen to be a six string warrior or an aspiring Rockstar, Rocksmith is here to help you fine tune your skills. This is the next evolution of the music game. Be inspired.
Rocksmith is the first music game that empowers you to play a real instrument, your instrument, and guess what? It truly works. Much more than the technical blundering of its Milli Vanilli counterparts, Rocksmith is the real deal and a must have if you have ever wanted to play rock guitar or currently play the instrument. Although calling Rocksmith a simple music game is an understatement. Rocksmith is your tutor, a game, practicing tool and much more. Musicians, gaming has finally caught up with us.
As you can probably guess, I am excited. Your intuition might also tell you that I am guitar player myself. Well, it's true, and that could be why I am bursting at the seems to pen down my musings. Rocksmith is a joy to experience and while it might be lacking in the over-the-top presentation of something like Guitar Hero, it works, and that is what truly matters. Astonishing, I found the adaptive A.I. takes an interesting stance at presenting each song so it felt fresh, even when I already knew how to play the song on the guitar. Shifting the difficulty level to your playing, Rocksmith can instantly cater itself to the player any ego-damaging failed attempt. Much like learning the instrument in "real life," encouragement and positive reenforcement is key.
The beginning of greatness
Starting with the basics, Rocksmith takes you string-by-string, fret-by-fret teaching you the basics of tuning, notation and tablature. The basics are basic and much like the first time you played Rock Band, there is an adjustment period before you feel comfortable. Learning/adapting to the system takes some time, so don't be discouraged if you find yourself initially missing the mark. Unlike most music games the settlement period will be longer, if you are a new twanger. I would have liked more tutorials or slower songs for those beginners, but it seems Rocksmith is a little overzealous to get to the rock. We can't all be Yngwie Malmsteen.
The system they have in place is a scrolling fret board with colour coordinated strings. The notes scroll towards the user and you'll need to press the appropriate strings. It's that simple, but it can also be challenging for novices when the notes start spreading apart. Starting with single notes you will work your way up to chords, bends, hammer-on's and other “advanced” techniques. Additionally, you can break down each song by their arrangements to get the knack of the single notes, chords, or a blending of them both. Not only is this a great addition to learning all the complex parts of the song, it also teaches players about chord structure, melody lines and how songs are built in general.
The progression tasks you with rehearsing songs then performing a live event (much like real life.) Events start out with a couple of tunes and expand as you progress. Venues and other unlockables like new amps, guitars, and pedals will be earned as you rank up. The formula used isn't anything new, we seen this before in other music games, but its good enough to keep you interested aside from the joy of learning an actual song. Aside from this you can take on challenges that move past common notes and chords. This includes slides, harmonics, palm muting, tremolo, double stops, power chords and more. A chord book is also provided to help you understand more about chord notation.
What's in your rig?
For the "gearheads," you are going to be infatuated with building your own rig. Rocksmith provides a smorgasbord board of instruments, amplifiers and effects to play around so you can "find" your sound. The value of having a sonic sandbox at your disposal cannont be measured. The game is endorsed by Gibson and the American retail chain Guitar Center, so you be stuck with certain products, but that OK, it's actually great to have any support at all.
For a little more specifics you will get into an assortment of boutique styled effect pedals ranging from delays, distortions, filters, wah's and so on. The effects can be looped through your amp as well, which is a nice touch. The modeled guitars in the game is a collection of vintage and current stringers including the classic 1956 Gold Top Les Paul, the Vintage Epiphone 1964 Casino, and of course the Epiophone Les Paul Junior that is available in a Rocksmith bundle. Now all we need is a remote stompbox that you can plug into your rig.
Rocksmith is loaded full of great tracks that range from classic rock n' roll artists like the Rolling Stones all the way to newer bands like Interpol and vintage alternative rockers the Pixies. The mix is slightly more suited for a 'Alt. Rock' crowd, but will not turn away 'Hard Rock' fans. To name off a few more artists we have Nirvana, Kings of Leon, Soundgarden, David Bowie, RHCP, Radiohead and more. Personally, I already knew a good portion of the songs on the track list which made things interesting. Although, I didn't fly through each song I already knew, I gave me a good head start on the arrangement. The great thing about music games in general is that it introduces the player to new songs and artists that they might have missed through their normal outlet for audio. There are some great tracks here that are definitely worth your time to master.
No quarters needed
The “Guitarcade” is a mini-game zone complete with leaderboards zombies and aliens. It's a fun diversion from the main stress of learning songs and an excellent way to force yourself to learn the fret board that much better. The first selection that is unlocked is a game called Ducks. Ducks is a fret based shooter that incrementally speeds up as you correctly hit the ducks that are coming down a certain fret. Super Ducks is a variation on this that uses all the strings on the entire fret board. This as you can imagine is a lot harder. For more we have 'Dawn of the Chordead,' a zombie mini-game where you have to strum the right chord to kill the zombies. If you don't make it on time the zombies will wear you down and end your game. This is super fun and fantastic way to learn chords. Zombie pressure! Man I missed that one in Rock School. Continuing on there are few more modes that are equally as fun/challenging and they are as follow; Scale Runner, Big Swing Baseball, Quick Pick Dash, Super Slider and the bomb defusing Harmonically Challenged.
For the future a few visible inclusions would have been nice, like the addition of Bass guitar (maybe we'll see it in a patch?) or a drum hook-up of sorts. While the drums might be a more creatively challenging issue, let's start with something a more basic like using your instrument as the controller. It's a minor nit-pick, but you need to keep your standard controller on at all times. Other games have managed this, so i know it's not far off. Additionally, I found the live feedback on your playing (note streaks, awesome bends notifications, etc) to be blended with the background and hard to read. These could be pushed forward so you know what you are doing right (positive reinforcement, remember?) Also, I would have liked all the frets numbered, not just the intervals of 3-5-7 and so on. Again, it's not a big deal, but an option that would have been welcomed. Room to grow isn't a bad thing. Remember the original Guitar Hero? Yea, we've come a long way.
Rocksmith feels like a present from the rock gods themselves. This little slice of the future is the perfect tool/game to teach all skill levels a thing or two about rocking out on the six-strings. Not only will you not have a pile of plastic instruments in your room, you now have a legitimate reason to start playing a real instrument. Rocksmith is giving us the gift of music, and you would have to be deaf not to enjoy the present. This is an easy purchase for anyone who has wants or currently plays the guitar.
Similar Games: Power Gig (2.5) | Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock (8.0) | Beatles: Rock Band (9.2)