So I had two games arrive at my house today: Battlefield 3 and Rocksmith. The latter very much intrigued me when it debuted at E3.
With music games pretty much hitting the wall as far as new releases, Rock Band 3 wanted to boast having “pro modes” to actually play all notes of a song. With special controllers, you could do just that. I’ve messed around with it before with the Fender Mustang controller and enjoyed it a bit. However, it was a far fry from a real guitar and playing any song took quite a bit of effort in the pro guitar modes.
Rocksmith wanted to take a different approach. Make a game that any level guitar can play and allow the use of any guitar with a standard output port. Songs would start out at a basic level and automatically progress as you learn the rifts and, if you’ve never played before, how to play period.
So during my lunch hour, I took out my electric and saw how well this was pulled off.
The game starts by calibrating itself with your guitar and making sure it is tuned. After that, it goes through a quick tutorial on how to know which string to play and which fret to press down on. It was surprisingly intuitive and easy to follow and a huge improvement over what Rock Band offered.
You then start your “journey” to rise the ranks as a guitar player. The goal is to rehearse selected songs and learn them well enough to preform them in front of an audience and hopefully preform well enough to have the crowd request and encore. You then unlock larger venues and newer songs.
The first song on my list was the Rolling Stones classic, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”. For me the difficulty started off ridiculously easy, but after going through some of the riffs the first time, they continued to get progressively harder. However, the biggest shock was how easy it was to move to the harder levels on the fly. Ubisoft did a great job of making the difficulty jobs very logical: the easy levels work on your hand positioning and very basic parts of every riff. Then, when more notes are added, they fit right into the hand positioning and fill in the missing notes piece by piece.
It doesn’t stop there either. Additional techniques such as hammer-ons, pull-offs, bends, slides, palm mutes, chords, and even harmonics are added. Each technique has their own symbol and it’s all very easy to follow. If you do have trouble though, there are lessons and tutorials to help with each technique and they all have their own challenges and even arcade style games to practice.
I can already tell that I’m going to put a ton of hours into this game. As a guitar player, I am really only proficient in chords for the most part. I had a few lessons, but never had the time for more and I could only teach myself so much and really struggle in trying to teach myself songs. It was very rewarding to pick up the game and be able to bust out the main riff of a Stones song after just playing through it a couple times.
The library of songs is great and I, while I doubt the download library will ever rival Rock Band’s, I hope that even more great content will come down the pipe.
I’d definitely suggest picking up the game if you happen to play or want to learn how.