The original Rocksmith game was announced just after music games were declared dead by gamers and critics alike. Just months after EA Games and Activision announced that they were discontinuing their music games (Rock Band and Guitar Hero, respectively) Ubisoft dared to announce that they will be publishing a music game, but unlike previous air-guitar arcade games, their’s will use a real guitar, and will in fact, teach people how to play the guitar. A bold statement, but after numerous studies and the fantastic success of Rocksmith, it’s safe to agree that Rocksmith really is “the fastest way to learn guitar”, and is downright fun to play too.
‘Rocksmith 2014’ is the second Rocksmith game in the series, and sees a return of the gameplay and features that made the first game so great, as well as new songs and Guitarcade games that add to the overall Rocksmith experience. Whether you’re an experienced guitarist or completely new to playing guitar, Rocksmith 2014 is a fantastic game that will have you rocking out within a mere hour.
If you’ve played Rocksmith before, than you can feel free to enjoy the new songs and Guitarcade games that 2014 has to offer. If you’re new to Rocksmith, you will want to watch the game’s introductory videos, and start learning a basic song like ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ by the Ramones, or Bush’s ‘Machinehead’. The game does a fantastic job of introducing players to guitars, and the various techniques and jargon guitar playing contains.
Rocksmith 2014 contains an impressive library of songs, and everything from soft rock and 80’s classics to J-rock and heavy metal is present. There’s songs from such bands as Queen, Paramore, KISS, Slayer, Rise Against, Jack White, Iron Maiden, Avenged Sevenfold, Pantera, The Who, White Zombie and more. You can read the full songlist here.
When you choose a song from the menu, you are presented with a variety of gameplay options that will help you learn the song, or generally improve your guitar skill. The first song I played was ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ by the Ramones, at which point the game let me play at my own pace, and then analysed my performance. As someone who has taught himself to play rhythm guitar, I apparently posessed “moderate” raw skill, but needed some help refining my techniques and identifying chords.
I was then asked if I would like to repeat the trickier parts of the song, and told a few tips to really help me nail it. After a few practise riffs I played the songs again, and showed much improvement.
When you start a song lesson, a fretboard on the screen tells you which frets to have your fingers resting on at the start of the song. ‘Machinehead’ begins with the 4th fret on the A string, so the on-screen fretboard has the A string highlighted in yellow, and a square on the 4th fret highlighted. Similar to Guitar Hero and Rock Band, Rocksmith has a scrolling fretboard on the screen, so if you’ve plyed either of these games before, you should get the hang of Rocksmith’s timing pretty quickly.
Moving onto trickier songs, I have since learned to play ‘Machinehead’ by Bush, as well as R.E.M’s ‘Losing My Religion’. I practise a number of songs daily and Rocksmith offers an accurate analysis of my skills with each practise and more importantly, how to improve them. Rocksmith is truly an ingenious piece of software, and there is nothing else like it.
Rocksmith 2 also sees the return of the popular Guitarcode mode, where players are able to play a variety of casual mini-games that are based on different guitar techniques. I was skeptical at first of the mini-games; I didn’t think that they would manage to both entertain me and improve my guitaring. Thankfully, my doubts were expunged as the mini-games are so good, you can get lost in them for hours, and almost forget that you are actually learning something.
My biggest weakness with being self-taught is scales and knowing various chords. Playing the mini-games ‘Scale Warriors’ and ‘Return to Castle Chordead’ (the latter of which being a fun homage to the Wolfenstein and House of the Dead games), I was struggling at first to remember chords and get my fingers to nimbly move through scales, but a few minutes in I was able to competently play the games, and those games revolved around something I could never have learned without Rocksmith or a professional guitar teacher.
Session mode is a very impressive part of the Rocksmith experience. It offers you the chance to jam along to pre-recorded riffs and mixes featuring a variety of music and intstrument types. Feeing like belting out the blues, or maybe channeling your inner metal head? Just choose up to three other instruments, the “feel” of their sound and the scale they will play in and you’re on your way. The second you start making sound through your guitar, the drummer (or metronome) will count in the other instruments. This part of the software could easily sell on its own, as its a handy tool for guitarists of all experience levels.
- Not one bad song in the game
- Infinite replayability
- Does what it says on the box. You will learn guitar.
Rocksmith 2014 is nothing short of brilliant! While some players may be slightly deterred by the initial challenge of learning guitar from scratch, determined players will be able to play guitar within a short time with it. Rocksmith 2014 will also be able to help experienced guitarists improve their skills, and have fun doing it. If you’re curious about learning guitar (or the parent of a future rockstar) Rocksmith 2014 will prove to be an invaluable piece of software for you.
Score – 9.5/10