-Kris “Kaz” Sturm
I have to say, when I first looked at the product design for Rocksmith, I was somewhat skeptical when it came to its design. Above all, I questioned its integrity as a game, posing questions such as “how could this possibly teach someone to play the guitar? Is this game an accurate tutor? Is it worth the hefty price tag?” To all of these, I found myself rather pleased with how the game was crafted and thought it was a great way to introduce gamers to gaining some actual musical talent.
This does not go without saying that there are flaws present however, as the game does not introduce to the player the basics of music theory and does not inform the player that many of the notes they wish to play can be replicated on other strings. While it does teach the basics of playing guitar to those who are not musically talented (how to play chords, sliding one’s hands to different frets, introducing how one can transition smoothly from one fret to another, etc.), it seems to lack in actually teaching someone how to play guitar without the game. In regards to making a scripted game though, it runs perfectly fine and functions as quite possibly the most helpful asset I’ve found; it’s just with the lack of instruction to play independently, it does fall short.
But to not dwell on the negative, I can assuredly state that if someone’s looking to learn how to play notes, Rocksmith does not disappoint. As soon as the player plugs in either their own guitar or one purchased with (for the deluxe edition) the game, they’re shown how to properly tune their guitar, how to hold it, how to strum properly (to which, I actually found finger-picking to be easier) and so on. From there, they’re introduced to two songs; at which point the new guitarist can find themselves applying the basics taught to them with difficulty scaling upwards or downwards based on their own musical talents. Oh, and lest I forget, the option for multiplayer is present, so if you have a second guitar laying around and have another cord (sold separately), a friend can hop on in and jam on as well.
Yes, the game does show mercy to those who cannot play well on their first time around (or consistently at that). If the player finds themselves continually missing notes, the game will scale itself to accommodate those less talented than others. On the same note, someone who plays well will find the game getting progressively more difficult when approaching the same song. As they say, practice makes perfect.
Furthermore, the game does introduce to the players a fun, different way to get to better know their guitars: minigames. Now I know what you’re thinking, “how the fuck do you put a minigame into a guitar game?” Again, I was surprised, but seeing additions to the game such as Duck Hunt of all things, I found them surprisingly helpful to learn some of the more basic techniques. The surprisingly helpful list of games in the “Guitarcade” seems to offer some form of relaxed gameplay including titles such as:
-Ducks: As the name implies is much like the Duck Hunt of ages past and plays somewhat like Galaga which teaches fret placement, keeping things simple with a single string and introduces an advanced version of this called Super Ducks, which adds an additional challenge of using each of the six strings.
-Scale Runner: A fun little minigame introduced after the first few “performances, dedicated to teaching scale patterns
-Quick Pick Dash: A speed-based challenge that focuses on teaching and improving the tremolo technique, where the player picks a string as fast as possible.
-Big Swing Baseball: A rather peculiar game where the player is up at bat using the guitar, and no, this is not FLCL. In this minigame, the player hits the ball by playing and bending the string accordingly to play the prompted notes.
-Super Slider: A rather fun puzzle game inspired by Nintento's Dr. Mario, Super Slider teaches the player to better utilize the slide technique to clear through challenges.
-Dawn of the Chordead: Proving that no matter where you go, zombies will interfere one way or another. This game mixes up the idea of playing chords to kill off zombies. Play the right chord to kill the zombies; pretty straightforward.
-Harmonically Challenged: Probably one of the more engrossing and challenging games added, functions much like a "Simon Says" type of game where the player repeats a series of harmonics that are played to them, consistently getting more and more difficult as they complete sets.
All fun aside, the game does introduce the option to turn their console and television (or PC) into an amp, allowing free range to practice various chords. Remember how I mentioned the lack of music theory introduction? Well, this is about as close as the player gets when it comes to applying their own music talents in a free range. If some knowledge about this is already present, they are given the opportunity to really work on refining their own talents and can open up any number of possibilities for personal growth. If you’re feeling ballsy, give it a try and see if you can develop your own musical skills. (Not to mention it’s really the only way to practice and play play foreign music if inclined to do so)
With a wide selection of music and download content available on request, Rocksmith has paved the way for future guitar games, giving all would-be guitarists a chance to learn and better themselves. Personally, I used to avoid any thoughts to participating in any musical games, but Rocksmith has really changed my opinion on the whole matter, not to mention made use of the old guitar I had laying in the house. Partly out of interest, desire to make use of my guitar and after seeing the musical talents of one guitarist, I thought it was time for change, and I honestly don’t regret my decision at all. Overall, I’d say that if you’re looking to learn a new skill, Rocksmith is a hell of a way to go and worth the investment.
Reviewed by Kris “Kaz” Sturm
Reviewer Rating: 4.25/5