Rocksmith reviewed: a real music game with real learning
4.0Overall Score
Price (RRP): $99.95 Manufacturer: Ubisoft

Music games were a big phenomenon a few years ago, with the “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band” franchises taking the world by storm. While these were fun, you never really had the feeling that you were playing music.

Enter “Rocksmith,” a new game that does away with the fake guitar controllers and asks you to play a game with a real guitar or bass.

What it is

An extension of the music game genre, Rocksmith is more than just another button mashing accessory purchase job. There are no special guitar shaped game controllers that you have to buy, as the title arrives with the cable you need to play.

You will need to bring your own controller, mind you, as either an electric guitar or bass is needed to use the game. This is the only way to play Rocksmith, and yes, it can be the same electric instrument you got for your birthday five years ago that you swore black and blue you’d play and gave up on ten minutes later.

BYO instrument: we played on a Fender Jazz bass

While Gibson has the sponsorship of Ubisoft’s Rocksmith, you can bring your own Fender Mustang, Strat, or Tele electric guitar, or even a Fender Jazz or Precision bass to play.

You can carry a Gretsch, an Ashton, Yamaha, MusicMan, Spector, Schecter, Ibanez, LTD, Warwick, Maton, and yes, even a Gibson, with Rocksmith allowing you to use any guitar or electric bass that’s out there, though we’d suggest a six string guitar and a four string bass, from what we played.

It’s still a music game, only this time you’re not just mashing coloured buttons on a plastic guitar, but strumming the strings of a real instrument instead.

And while you’re playing, you’re not just gaining in-game points, but are also learning the part of a song, potentially giving you something to play at a party, or impress a girl, or inspire you to take up the guitar or bass full-time, either as hobby or profession.

Like Guitar Hero, only you're playing a real instrument and learning a real song, not just mashing plastic buttons on another controller you'll need to store later on.

Experience

Switch on the game and you’re drawn into a world that’s a little different from your regular guitar game, as a narrator will begin to teach you the basics of how to play.

This isn’t just a lesson in video gaming, but rather a proper way to hold a guitar or bass, to make a note, to play an instrument and therefore play the game.

You’ll get into the game quite quickly, and then see that while it’s educational, the developers of Rocksmith have tried to make the experience an interesting blend of the Guitar Hero style of game and a proper tutorial for how to play music.

Before each song, you’ll tune your instrument, with an on-screen chromatic tuner telling you when a string needs to be tightened or loosened, getting with your coloured animated fretboard lighting up to tell you just how you’re going. If a song requires a slightly different tuning, the game remembers the last song you played and tells you to down or up-tune, checking the strings before each play.

Then, it’s to playing the song, with the colourful fretboard moving up and down the scale, zooming in and out to show you more as required and telling you where on your fingerboard you should be placing your fingers.