Video Game Review – Rocksmith: Finally a Gaming Experience for Guitarists

In the past, I’ve been critical towards music videos game like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Rocksmith is a new video game by Ubisoft that finally offers a gaming experience for guitarists on either PS3 or Xbox360.  I rarely get an opportunity to write about video games here, but I do love playing video games, so I thought I’d offer some of my insight.

Rocksmith Does Not Replace a Music Teacher

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of my review, let me make one thing clear: Rocksmith is NOT a substitute for an actual music teacher.

This game will not help players learn proper technique, how to read music and, most importantly, how to prevent music injury. If you’re serious about learning how to play the guitar, get a good teacher.  No game, video, or anything else will eliminate the need for formal music instruction.

However, a game like this can compliment a learning experience or gauge how much interest an individual has to really learn the instrument.  Even if long term lessons are not part of the plan, taking a few lessons to get started will help.  For beginners especially, playing for long hours and doing things wrong can cause hand injury.

Games are designed for people to have fun and I think Rocksmith makes practicing and learning more enjoyable in an interactive experience.

The Review

The game itself comes in two packages. The first is the game with a special cord to plug any electric guitar into the PS3 or Xbox360.  The second package includes a Gibson Epiphone guitar.

Thanks to some birthday money, I bought the PS3 version on Black Friday. After spending an entire evening playing the game, I can say it’s a pretty awesome experience so far.  For gamers with an HDTV and surround sound will have the most enhanced experience.  I don’t have a full entertainment setup, but the game is optimized for entertainment centers.

I wasn’t sure how responsive the game would be, but after plugging in I was happily surprised. You pluck a string and you really do hear your instrument through the television (or stereo).  If there is a delay, it’s hardly noticeable.

The brilliance behind the game is how the game adapts to the player by either adding or reducing notes while playing a song.  The experience is structured similar to Guitar Hero and Rock Band.  Players earn points and unlock new songs, venues, and mini-games as gigs and practice sessions are completed.  Although I read some reviews that declare this aspect of the game lame, those reviewers missed the point…it’s a GAME.  It’s not music software. You can’t record music.  And unlocking items in the game gives players incentives to keep coming back and playing.

When you first start out, the game begins with a single line system, but chords and combo modes are also available depending on the song. However, I haven’t played the game long enough to experience all the different variations.

In addition, the game will unlocks guitar techniques to help seasoned players become familiar with the interface and beginners learn new techniques like palm muting, slides, string bending, pull-offs and hammer-ons and more.

After about an hour of learning which color represents what string and playing a song for the first time, the game started to get more and more interesting.  When I finally managed to give my fingers a break, about 3 hours later, the game recognized I was advanced enough to start adding power chords and solos.

Other aspects of the game include a practice mode that allows players to work on sections and change your amp setup. Yes, as you play the game and get through venues and songs, you will unlock amps, effects, buzz/distortion sounds, and more to customize your sound, which is pretty damn awesome.  As a classical guitarist, I can’t say that I know a lot about how to setup certain kinds of pedals, pre-amp settings and distortion settings. Everything can be adjusted to the player’s liking.

In practice modes, you play through songs or specify section to work on. So far, I haven’t worked on sections, but you can go through and rehearse songs over and over again before hitting the venue to rack up more points.  However, the game will adapt in both a venue and practice mode by giving the player more challenges parts regardless.

The only annoying aspect of the game is the loading times can take a while, even when repeating the song you were in. It’s really the only annoying part of the game.  Everything else is really a smooth experience.  It’s nice to finally hook up my guitar into my PS3 and jam in a gaming experience.  I see countless weeks of my life on this game, especially since the system also offers downloads to add more songs to the gaming experience.

Although I played the PS3 version, the guitar chord can be used on Xbox 360 as well, since it’s a standard USB that connects into either game system.

Since we are in the midst of holiday shopping season, I wanted to write this up to let people know it’s worth it.

I may have more to say as I play the game, but until then, back to jamming I go…

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One comment on “Video Game Review – Rocksmith: Finally a Gaming Experience for Guitarists
  1. Rocksmith is not the great tool so many claim it to be. It WILL create sloppy players. Gaggles of them! Just a bunch of carbon copy crappy players, yeah, just what rock music needs. In this respect, I see Rocksmith as just another downward step in the downward spiral evolution of rock msuic that has been the norm for so very long.

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