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Rocksmith

28 September 2012
Rocksmith - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.56 / 5.0
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45 Ratings / 2 Reviews
#2,372 All-time
#52 for 2012
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Releases 5
Blu-ray
XNA 0 08888 34760 6
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XNA 0 08888 52688 9
2012 Ubisoft  
DVD
US 0 08888 68688 0
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GB 3 307215 638538 BLES-01216
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Title
A decent first attempt at the logical conclusion of GH/RB, Rocksmith nails the universal appeal of the concept with a proprietary cable that really does work with that guitar you have lying around doing nothing. However, arguably overpriced DLC, an on-disc setlist without the expected staples of a beginner's first guitar game and with too much in-house work, and a notation system that would not reach its full potential until the sequel (palm muted chords come onnnnnnnn) hamper the final delivery of what is otherwise a pretty decent package committed to teaching guitar the right way.
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Lowlander2 2017-08-23T11:23:11Z
2017-08-23T11:23:11Z
3.5
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Exactly the game I was looking for after first playing Guitar Hero for the first time.

I guess Guitar Hero and Rock Band (and DJ Hero, though it's not really relevant to the rest of this paragraph) deserve a lot of credit for getting more people interested in learning instruments for real, and I know a lot of people who claim that these games made them better guitarists after playing them for a while, but if I'm being honest, I was always totally bewildered by them. A game where I get to play guitar, something there's a good chance I'd have been doing anyway? Great! A game where the guitar feels and plays absolutely nothing like a real guitar and forces you to totally abandon every fundamental thing you've ever learned about how notes relate to one another? Yeah, maybe not. I get that Guitar Hero was never intended to teach you how to play the real thing, but the arrangements in that game were so arbitrary, so removed from reality, that if you already knew how to play one of the songs on the soundtrack, or had even heard the song a few times and roughly knew where the notes would fall if you'd learned it, you were immediately at a disadvantage. A game about playing guitar that immediately alienated guitarists was absolutely not for me.

And you know, while it was pretty exciting to read about a guitar game that you controlled with a real guitar, I thought at first that Rocksmith, having been billed as a learning tool by its makers, might well fall into the same trap. Learning, after all, is for beginners. Yet it's almost immediately obvious that the team at Ubisoft that worked on this were well aware that the game would appeal to people who'd been playing for years just as much as newcomers, and set out to make the game equally great for everybody. They succeeded, and that's no mean feat.

Rocksmith's way of gearing the game up to your own level of expertise is through something it calls 'phrase levels'. What this means in real terms is that a song will start with a fairly simplified version of its arrangement and will judge you on how you play it - if you hit all the notes, it will become more difficult, and if you miss a few, it'll scale the difficulty back. This dynamic shift between difficulties, which largely stays sandboxed within one song (so it won't ask you to be perfect at a rip-roaring solo if you've just nailed the chord arrangement on "Boys Don't Cry"), means that the game tailors itself to your own ability without asking anything of you beyond plugging in and playing, and then grows as you do. If that's not enough, there are technique challenges to allow you work specifically on bends, natural harmonics, and the like, and a feature that allows you to zoom in on a specific section of a song you're having trouble with and repeat it. It expands out at the top end too - once you've played a song well enough to have unlocked the maximum difficulty on every phrase (ie - you've played the song as it's actually played on the original recording), something called Master Mode unlocks and whips the fretboard off the screen entirely, asking you to play the song from memory with no visual guide at all. This happens almost without warning and is weirdly thrilling; the first time it happened to me, it was with Radiohead's "High & Dry", which is one of the first songs I ever learned, and even though I've played it on a real stage to a (pitifully small) real audience before I still had the feeling I was taking flight somehow, almost like that moment in The Matrix when Neo finally sees the world as pure digits and realizes he has total control over it. Games rarely make you feel like that, especially as an adult - in the past year the only games I can think of that did are the final level on Rayman Origins, one particularly beautiful team goal I scored against Barcelona on the highest difficulty on FIFA 13 (admittedly on the way to a 3-2 defeat), and the Master Mode here.

There's also a feature called the Guitarcade, which is delightful and frustrating in equal measure. They're emulations of simple arcade games controlled using various techniques, including a Wii Sports-esque baseball game where your swing matches up to string bends, a game where zombies pop up out of the guitar in the shape of a chord you need to strum to shoot them, and a racer where you need to guide your ship around obstacles by playing notes across a scale. I have no problem admitting that I'm not even nearly good enough a guitarist to get high scores on a couple of these, but I will take issues with a couple of them for being poorly explained and very difficult to control properly due to latency issues - the baseball game in particular suffers from this. The Guitarcade as a whole is still ultimately quite fun, but it is markedly less impressive than the rest of the game.

So it's not flawless - the career mode is also a bit minimal, effectively relying on you enjoying the novelty of new songs to learn to keep you going, so chances are you'll be building up your own events up out of the songs you like most by the time you reach level 7 or 8 (the levels go up to, predictably, 11). Still, I genuinely feel that Rocksmith is a game that needed to be made, and needed to be made in this way too. It's probably not quite good enough for me to describe it as one of my favourite games ever, but it's tailored exactly to what I wanted from it in a way very, very few games are.
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Iai 2016-04-07T14:04:53Z
2016-04-07T14:04:53Z
3.8
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I spent a couple of years during my childhood halfheartedly playing a handful of instruments but never mastering one. I learned Blink-182 and Nirvana in the early '00s like every other middle schooler who wanted to start a band, but I didn't go very far. Practicing an instrument can be a grueling endeavor, made more painful if you have a bad teacher.

I thought Rock Band 3 was the answer to my problem, but it turned out to be an expensive, fruitless investment (albeit, a very enjoyable one). My friends laughed at me, trying to learn guitar through a plastic toy. They were right -- a plastic 102-button toy doesn't properly emulate a real guitar. Well, screw emulation because Rocksmith lets you plug in the real thing via the USB-to-1/4" converter that comes packaged with the game.

Any electric guitar with a 1/4" inch jack (which is most of them) or acoustic guitar with a pickup will work with the game. I plugged in my fantastically average, decade-old $100 Johnson and was immediately on my way to relearning chords, techniques, and Nirvana songs. If you don't own a guitar, there is a $200 bundle that comes with an Epiphone Junior, but I am wary of its quality due to generally negative user reviews around the net. Unfortunately, I didn't get to test one myself.

Never mind Nirvana, though, because Rocksmith has the best lineup of songs yet in a rhythm game. Since the game is entirely built around the guitar, there is less genre variety and more of a focus on songs with a strong guitar hook. Ubisoft may not have thrown in money for the big hits that Rock Band has, but aren't you tired of hearing "Smoke on the Water" anyway (it's DLC if you really want it)? Instead, you get to play obscure gems from The xx and The Horrors along with established Pixies and The Rolling Stones favorites. It's all a matter of taste, but Rocksmith's set list kept me excited as I progressed through the game.

The basic formula of Guitar Hero has always worked, and it works here as well. However, there are subtle improvements that are necessary to adapting an actual guitar. Notes scroll at you from an angle, making them easy to read ahead of time. The notes eventually hit the guitar strings on screen, showing you finger placement and which notes will hit which frets. It can be hard to learn as a beginner, but you'll eventually get the hang of it. The tougher part is memorizing the notation for all the different kinds of techniques (bending, slides, etc.).

There is nothing easy about learning an instrument, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun. Rocksmith does a great job of making the experience as painless as possible. The game dynamically changes the difficulty according to how well you are playing. If you fail to hit a couple of chords, the game will temporarily throw single notes at you until you improve, and thankfully, there is no way to fail a song. Remembering the symbols for tremolo, bending, and hammer-ons can be hard, but it's tough to avoid this problem when trying to be authentic.

One gripe some players may have is that this dynamic one-size-fits-all difficulty is non-optional -- you can't pick "hardcore" or "easy." If your skill level is through the roof, then you'll get to experience the song at its most faithful. If not, then you'll just have to improve. The dynamic difficulty is impressive and makes for a sensible default setting, but it seems like an oversight to exclude other options.

The main campaign of Rocksmith isn't as flashy as its competitors, but it should provide enough incentives to keep the weak-willed interested. I found myself ignoring finger pains and soldiering on so I could unlock a new guitar or effects pedal. Each activity in the game earns the player RocksmithPoints (RSP) that let the player level up and gain access to more stuff. All the songs are playable from the outset, but RSP will give you new equipment and games to play at the Guitarcade.

Guitarcade is another ingenious aspect of Rocksmith that turns the most boring parts of learning the guitar into fun, addictive activities. Learning your way around a guitar neck is a dull, time-consuming process, but it's not so rough when hitting the right fret lets you shoot down a ship in a Space Invaders-like arcade game! As lame as it sounds, I found myself playing just for fun and realizing, "Wow! I just hit that note without thinking about it for the first time!" It's moments like these that make Rocksmith such a worthwhile and enjoyable investment. Only during the technique lessons did I feel like I was dealing with "edutainment" software -- a necessary evil, though the game does try to make learning chords fun with its own Guitarcade game.

The only place Rocksmith truly falls short is in its presentation. There is no voice-over actor who you'll want to punch, but there are elements that are laughably bad. The audience and venues look so fugly as to be kind of endearing, but the same can't be said of the momentum-killing load times between songs. The game also has audio latency problems, but I didn't find them to be that noticeable. The game suggests using an external audio source, but I honestly wouldn't worry about it. Rocksmith is pretty generous with your timing, anyway.

There are certain niceties that Rock Band 3 has spoiled us with, making it clear that some features are sorely missing in Rocksmith. Easily being able to practice a song by section, slowing the tempo, and having finger placement of chords clearly stated at all times are some things I'd like to see put into a future installment. There is no deal breaker here, but the game is clearly testing the waters. Hopefully, we'll see a more refined sequel this time next year.

Rocksmith succeeds at being a learning tool that provides the right amount of motivation and enjoyment to keep an amateur invested. There is also enough here to grab the interest of an experienced guitar player -- proven by my time playing with my veteran guitar-playing brother -- but the entire experience is geared for beginners. The game will suggest you learn certain techniques and chords so you can master easier songs first before it recommends more difficult ones. After a week of playing, I felt like I made some real progress not only in the game but in building a real-world skill that I've been desiring all my life.

It's a wonderful feeling that makes it easy to overlook Rocksmith's little quirks. It's as simple as this: if you want to have fun with friends in a rhythm game, buy Rock Band 3, but if you want to learn guitar, buy Rocksmith. It works, it's fun, and no strange man with a handlebar mustache will force you to play Soul Asylum here.
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SUPER_Lonely_Panda 2016-04-07T20:44:26Z
2016-04-07T20:44:26Z
4.5
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Catalog

mazarin Rocksmith 2022-08-30T19:17:03Z
2022-08-30T19:17:03Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
TechnicalProgDeathThrash Rocksmith 2022-06-19T16:28:57Z
2022-06-19T16:28:57Z
B
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
williamsle07 Rocksmith 2022-06-16T02:19:54Z
2022-06-16T02:19:54Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
snakechamber Rocksmith 2022-05-15T19:38:52Z
2022-05-15T19:38:52Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
ectopicsage Rocksmith 2022-04-03T19:56:28Z
2022-04-03T19:56:28Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Kamyk975 Rocksmith 2022-03-16T13:42:10Z
Windows
2022-03-16T13:42:10Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
patobravo Rocksmith 2022-01-25T14:33:39Z
Windows
2022-01-25T14:33:39Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
steam co-op
rusecruise Rocksmith 2022-01-24T13:39:57Z
2022-01-24T13:39:57Z
3.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
K_DOGG Rocksmith 2022-01-20T14:55:44Z
2022-01-20T14:55:44Z
7.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
PC
johnlewis Rocksmith 2021-12-09T03:36:37Z
PS3 • GB
2021-12-09T03:36:37Z
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
highroad Rocksmith 2021-12-01T05:50:50Z
2021-12-01T05:50:50Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Pluginmonkey Rocksmith 2021-11-27T14:51:59Z
2021-11-27T14:51:59Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
PEGI: 12+
Player modes
1-2 players
Media
1x Blu-ray
Multiplayer modes
Cooperative
Multiplayer options
Local
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  • Rocksmith
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  • Iai 2018-02-04 19:43:20.986774+00
    The game ID for this is the tab for one of my favourite chords lmao
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