Rocksmith doesn’t use little plastic guitars with five colored buttons to play. It actually uses a real guitar. Any real electric guitar will do provided it has a ¼" out. That’s because Ubisoft has included the simple, but amazingly important ¼" to USB conversion cable that allows gamers to plug up their own personal axe rather than paying for some plastic toy. If you don’t have your own guitar yet you can always buy the bundled Epiphone Les Paul Jr. Guitar edition of Rocksmith. There’s nothing wrong with picking up the Les Paul Jr. if you’re just started out, but honestly there are much cheaper (and better) guitars available at your local music shops and even at pawn shops if you feel like visiting the seedier side of town.
Rocksmith takes guitar games to a whole new level and honestly it’s almost hard to call this a game. Sure there are scores and achievements/trophies to be won, but the amount of detail here puts this more in the category of interactive guitar training and playing rather than a game. Ubisoft has included a host of effects modifiers like amps and peddles for guitar players to sample and play with in this “game”. If you’ve ever went into Guitar Center and spent the day messing around with equipment you could never afford until a long-haired employee gives you the “get out of here” stare, then you’ll appreciate the fun there is to be had in Rocksmith.
This title is built from the ground up to help you play guitar and put out some impressive sounds. You start out with tutorials right away that help you tune your axe and get you headed in the right direction. It’s nice because even the most novice player will be able to get a handle on things with the way Rocksmith is set up. As a person who has spent hours with professional and “not so” professional instructors, I can say this game is the perfect way to learn how to play. One of the simplest yet daunting aspects of picking up a guitar is the tuning. Some people get it right away while others don’t have the ear for finding the perfect pitch. Rocksmith takes care of this with a built in chromatic tuner that is spot on and easy to use. It’s also more accurate than any electric tuner I’ve used in the past.
Once you’re all tuned up and ready to go, you’ll begin getting a handle on how Rocksmith plays. It might be a little tedious for guitar veterans, but newbies will benefit greatly from the drawn out tutorial. One of the most interesting aspects of Rocksmith is the automatic difficulty adjustment which helps players tackle new styles while never putting them in a frustrating situation. This isn’t to say Rocksmith is easy or that you’ll be shredding away in a couple hours, but you will be playing riffs that might have seemed impossible before you popped this game in.
Since Ubisoft built this game to be a teacher, fans will be happy to know there is a wide variety of music to play. With tracks from bands like Nirvana, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Muse, there is something for everyone to like. One of the best things about the music in Rocksmith is that no track is locked, so everything is available right away to play. The novice players should stick to the beaten path of the career mode though as it will help them learn at a steady pace. If you initially feel like the genres are limited, you’ll be happy to know there will be plenty of DLC coming as Rocksmith has an in-game store that promises to fill up in the coming months.
Rocksmith is a fun and technically educational game. Those looking for the next Guitar Hero will be in for a shock from the moment they turn on Rocksmith. This isn’t anything like Activision’s franchise or Rock Band. Depending on what you’re into, it’s better. This is the first real music game to land on consoles this generation and hopefully a sign of things to come. It should be noted that there is a multiplayer mode, but it of course requires an additional guitar and ¼" to USB conversion cable to rock out with friends which we didn’t have at the time of this review. If you’ve always wanted to play guitar, but found the task daunting, this is the perfect way to have fun while learning. The menus and visuals might seem a little drab compared to other music games, but Rocksmith more than compensates for its lack of flash with plenty of substance. If you don’t have a guitar yet, you can pick up the bundle with the Les Paul Jr. for around $199.99. If you want to go the cheaper route or already have your own six string, Rocksmith comes with the ¼" to USB conversion cable for $79.99 and is available now. It’s definitely worth checking out if you play video games and always wanted to really play guitar.