on October 18, 2011
I thought I'd give a review from the point of view of someone completely new to the guitar, for those of you out there like me who are wondering if this will really teach you or if it'll be a frustrating waste of money. First off, I'll say that it isn't easy. As someone completely unfamiliar with the frets and the strings, I had a tough time starting out - very slow and clumsy. BUT, you'll see improvement REALLY quickly. I've only been playing for about two hours and although I still suck, I'm having a great time and I'm already loads better than I was when I started out. The only reason I stopped was because my finger got sore from holding down the strings. So far, for someone who's wanted to learn and either never had the time or money to take lessons, or found practice to be tedious and dropped it, or just doesn't have a mind for reading music, this is a definite recommendation. If anything changes as I get further along, I'll update this review. But as of now, I love it!
UPDATE 10/21: The good news first - I'm still absolutely loving the game and steadily improving. I'm only able to play about one to two hours a day, but even though that's all the time I'm able to put in, I'm already to the point of being able to play along with a song. But (here comes the downside), with my improvement audio lag has become a real issue. Before I was so horrible that I couldn't hit the right notes at all, let alone on time, so it didn't make much difference. But now that I've improved, it's a problem. To be fair, they warn you about this in the form of a pamphlet inside the game box, so it wasn't out of nowhere. I was just hoping that since I wasn't using HDMI, the lag wouldn't be too horrible. Wrong.
For those of you out there with a stereo or home theater system, you'll be fine as long as you run the audio directly from the xbox through that. But since I have neither, I was stuck. I ended up bringing down my old CD player from my bathroom, just to see if that would work. SO much better. But since I didn't want to leave that ugly thing sitting under my TV in my living room I went out and checked around for speaker prices. After the money spent on the game and the guitar, I didn't really want to put too much more money into this. I ended up with a Turtle Island headset for $40. It seems to be doing the trick. Just be prepared for this extra expenditure if you don't have an external speaker system in place.
on October 19, 2011
As others have said, this game is not a replacement for a human guitar teacher. The advantage here is that you get to jump in and start playing songs right away, and let's face it, that's the reason alot of folks give up on their "regular" lessons early on. Nobody wants to spend five days learing how to tune their guitar even though they should. Nobody wants to spend another fifteen days learning how to play "Mary Had a Little Lamb" even though they should. People want to pick up the guitar and play "Sunshine of Your Love" in ten minutes, and Rocksmith lets you do that... sorta.
Rocksmith won't teach you to play any song you want on the guitar in a week's time, but what it does is get you used to holding the instrument and what to do with your hands. The first time I ever played Guitar Hero, I think I might have hit a total of ten notes in the song. But eventually my left hand learned which button was which and how far apart they're spaced, to where now I can play alot of songs on 'expert' without looking at the controller. Same concept here. Within about an hour my left hand learned how far apart the third and fifth fret were and I could transition between the two with a fair amount of success without looking at the guitar. If you want to learn the guitar, Rocksmith is a great jumping-off point. Play around with it, get familiar with the instrument, then take some professional lessons or buy the self-instructional DVD's if you want to learn the nuts and bolts of what it is you're actually doing. If you don't want to take it that far, play the game for a few months and impress your friends next time you go over to their house by picking up that old acoustic guitar sitting in the corner and busting out some Nirvana Unplugged for them.
Long story short: I bought a guitar, I bought the books, and I bought the DVD's. Nothing was more boring or frustrating than sitting in my living room by myself with a book open in front of me or a DVD playing, trying to teach myself the guitar. I learned nothing. Rocksmith is fun... end of story. If I learn to play the guitar when it's all said and done then great! If not, it's still a ton of fun. Analyzing the reviews out there and most importantly who wrote them should help you make your decision. Gamers are rating it low and musicians are rating it high, that should tell you exactly what you need to know. I'm not saying one group is right and one is wrong, just that one is viewing it as a "video game" like Guitar Hero or Call of Duty, and one is viewing it as an interactive instructional tool for beginners and/or a fun diversion for professionals. If you're a gamer looking for a game, pass. It's too expensive and there aren't any guys with funny accents for you to blow away with an M16 or quests for dragon's balls. If you're a guitarist or a wannabe guitarist who also happens to own a video game console, it's a must buy.
** UPDATE ** Now that I've had and played the game for a week or two, I'd like to expand on my review a bit.
Before I bought Rocksmith I could not play the guitar. I mean it, I could not play a single chord or make any sound that resembled any part of any song in the known universe. Now I can play through "In Bloom" and "Sweet Home Alabama" with relative success every time. Herein lies both the benefit and the drawback of Rocksmith. Yes, I can play both of those songs I mentioned (among others) as long as I'm playing along with the game, but I haven't truly learned the songs. I don't know what notes I'm playing and I cannot apply what I know about playing "In Bloom" to any song not in the game.
When a human guitar teacher teaches you, you learn that placing your left hand here and strumming the string(s) like this is called G-sharp, or E-flat, or the G-chord or whatever. Rocksmith simply shows you that putting your left hand here during "In Bloom" and strumming these strings with your right hand during "In Bloom" will make the proper sound for that part of "In Bloom." I haven't truly learned what it means to play those notes, only how to play them. I don't see how the lessons learned would transfer into being able to read, play or understand any song not in the game.
That said, am I changing my review or my recommendation? Absolutely not! I stand by what I said originally: Rocksmith shows you how to hold the guitar, where to place your hands, and how to play notes. It allows you to play songs right away without trudging through days/months/weeks of music theory or just playing one chord over and over until your fingers bleed. If you want to know the "nuts and bolts" behind why when you place your left hand here and strum with your right hand there it makes the sound it makes, buy some instructional books or hire a human teacher. I guarantee you'll be a step ahead of where you would have after playing Rocksmith than you would if you hadn't.
The only thing I feel really needs improvement before Rocksmith 2 comes out is the on-the-fly difficulty needs more fine tuning. For example, after playing "In Bloom" on what was surely the lowest setting the game offers, I felt like I was getting the hang of it and wanted more notes to come at me. It took a while before it thought I was worthy of more notes but when it finally did, it threw them at me fast and a-plenty! Only after failing miserably two or three times in a row did it slow it back down for me, but even then it slowed it down too much. Finally it hit a happy medium with me and I felt comfortable with the pace, but that was after playing the song through four or five times either too slow or too fast. It's a great concept and amazing technology but it has much room for improvement.
Overall I stand firmly behind my day-one review. Rocksmith may not be the best teacher in the world, but it's a helluva fun game and it took this guy - somebody who'd barely even held a guitar - and turned him somebody who can actually play the guitar... to a certain extent. But I am getting better!
** UPDATE FOR MY UPDATE **
This game's been out for about a month now and I can say I have some serious time into it. It's still fun and I still like it, but I'm demoting it from my original 5-star review to 4-stars based on some shortcomings I can't ignore. I know my review's already so long most people haven't even read it, so I'll keep this short lol!
1) The adaptive difficulty feature needs some serious refinement. I touched on this earlier, but it switches between "Eric Clapton Mode" and "Chimp Holding a Guitar Mode" too often and never at the right times. When I start to ge the hang of a song, it triples the single notes and throws all the chords at me at once. When I screw that up as I invariably do, it takes me back down to what must be the lowest possible level and it throws me off.
2) There should be a section where you can practice chords as long as you want. As it is now, you can play these short little songs consisting of a few chords repeated, but once you've finished the song you're done. The mini-game "Dawn of the ChorDead" is (or should I say "could be") awesome, but they should let you turn off the scoring and just play as long as you want. It's alot of fun and I felt like I was learning, but when you get eaten by the zombies you have to start all over again. Which leads me to one of my biggest gripes...
3) LOAD TIMES! They're inexcusably loooong and are honestly ruining the entire experience for me. I'm a beginner. I never played or barely even held a guitar before this game came out. I need a section where I can just practice chords, hammer-ons, pull-offs, and all that other stuff over and over again until my fingers bleed. Sure, there are a couple different sections where you can practice all those techniques now... for a few minutes, then you have sit through a load screen for feels like an eternity if you want to do it again. If I could play the Riff Repeater 100 times in a row like I want and not 5 times like it makes you, or I could play "Dawn of the ChorDead" for as long as I want and not only until I miss 2 or 3 chords and get eaten by the zombies, then the load times wouldn't be an issue to me whatsoever.
I still like this game and I still play it often, but it's not perfect. Hopefully Rocksmith 2 will have the necessary improvements.
on October 26, 2011
If you want to feel like a rockstar (now) play Rockband, if you want to (eventually) be a rockstar play Rocksmith.
This game has a very specific target audience that must have patience and dedication. It won't make you Dave Navarro, Stevie Ray Vaughan, or Jimmy Page over night but it will certainly get you pointed in the right direction. There is a lot of commitment involved with this game because you are actually learning a real instrument, which is never easy.
I'm a self taught bass player with a handful of 6 strings that I've fiddled with on and off for the past several years. The fact that I can plug my PRS, which I don't deserve at all, into my Xbox and start playing songs is an amazing thing all by itself. I really enjoy this game and think it has tremendous potential as a teaching tool, but there are some kinks that need to be worked out. I would still recommend it to anyone seriously interested in learning guitar.
One of the trickiest parts about learning to play songs on your own is getting the effects right, which can be tough even if you own the same equipment that the song was recorded with. Rocksmith takes care of that for you and if you do well enough on a song you unlock that setting in "Amp" mode. In amp mode you get to play around with your sound and add different effects or play through different amps/guitars with no song requirements just like you would in your basement. I haven't played with it much yet but it seems to be a really cool tool if you have the patience and like to tinker with effects.
As everyone has stated, you start each song at the very root level until you've hit a required percentage of notes to move that section up in difficulty. While this is great for begginners it's frustrating for those of us with some experience. I would like the option to start at higher difficulties and adjust down if need be. Occasionally you will complete the appropriate percentage and get bumped up just to get kicked back down while trying to figure out the additions in the rift, which can again be frustrating.
While I'm talking about frustrating I have to mention the "Riff Repeater" mode which is where you can practice sections of the song. This is absolutely infuriating and a terrible way to be forced to practice specific sections. There are three modes you can choose from, one designed to progress you through the levels until you are playing the song note for note and the other two are just to practice the section. For all of them you are given five chances to play perfectly, or at least a requisite percentage correctly, and then it kicks you at just to start over if you don't perform to standard. The two modes that are not designed to level you up stop each time you miss a note, which is frustrating because it messes up your timing and doesn't give you a very clear picture of which note you missed. I will be doing my best to stay away from these two all together and probably use the leveling mode rarely due to the aggravation and headaches they cause.
On top of the difficulty of learning to play an instrument, there's a bit of a learning curve with the symbols for techniques and sometimes being able to tell which fret you're supposed to be on. If you're familiar with tablature notation you shouldn't have much problem figuring what technique it wants you to use after a couple trys. If you're not familiar with tablature I would recomend checking if there are any technique tutorials before beginning a song. The tutorials are helpful, for example I learned how to palm mute better, and you can skip straight to the exercise if you already know how to execute the particular technique.
In order to play a gig you have to qualify on each song in the set list. It recomends songs for each gig and has a minimum score that you must meet in "Rehearsal," which is not the same as "Riff Repeater." You can add or remove songs from your set list as long as you dont go above/below the min/max number of songs. Unfortunately you have to qualify for every song your going to play for every gig even if you've played it at a gig before. The number of points required to qualify on a song already played at a gig seems to be exponentially greater than the initial time.
The last complaint that I have about the actual gameplay is that it doesn't always register up strokes in some faster sections. For example, "Go with the Flow" by Queens of the Stone Age is full of fast notes that are much less tiring to play if you alternate up and down strokes, but when I do that the game tells me I've missed a large portion of the notes. When I only use downstrokes I hit 100% of the notes... I tried turning my tuning knobs a hair tighter and it helped a little but it's still an issue.
The game, on an ascetic level, is extremely dull and boring. The venues are bland, the crowd is the same three or four people cloned over and over, the intro video puts me to sleep and the menus are dark and simple. The load times are a good bit longer than I would like, but at least you get to play guitar during them.
What I would like to see in the future:
A lot of DLC
Practice mode with adjustable timing and no lives
Bass guitar support
Notes, especially start/stop points of slides, that are more easily identifiable
This game is a great learning tool and intro to guitar. It's always fun to play your favorite songs and maybe add some new favorites to your library. It's a good way to practice and much easier than trying to teach yourself songs with shaky tabs pulled off the internet. Be warned that this product teaches ZERO music theory, so aspiring musicians will be left in the dark when trying to play with other musicians, but that's easily rectified by supplementing this tool with boring, but necessary, books.
All in all I'm very happy with the $80 I spent on this game and am looking forward to playing more when I get home. I will continue to support this product and hopefully some good DLC will come out soon and Rocksmith 2 will have the kinks worked out and be even more enjoyable, and therefore sucessful, game that will introduce many many more aspiring musicians to the joy, and woes, of playing music.
on October 19, 2011
In reading the reviews written about Rocksmith so far, I can see a little of myself in almost every reviewer. I was the guy who bought an all-in-one guitar starter kit in his early 20s because he thought he could learn to play from a DVD. I'm also the typical Guitar Hero/Rock Band-turned-real guitarist. I've taken lessons from both self-taught and accredited instructors and have been playing about 2.5 years now. I figured if I could go from failing the easiest song in Guitar Hero I to playing almost every song at 90+% Expert in Rock Band 3, I could learn to play a real guitar if I was willing to dedicate the same amount of time to that as I did a video game. I was really excited when Rock Band 3 announced it would have pro mode. Not only to be able to play a real guitar along with the game, but just to have accurate tabs for some of my favorite songs (accurate in the sense that if I learned the chords and notes, I could play the song--I understand there will always be debates about how some published tabs aren't written the same way the original artist plays a song). Of course you can buy tab books, but why pay $20-30 for each one when you really only care about a few of the songs? I tried to jump right in to RB3 pro mode, only to find it much more difficult than I anticipated. Granted, I started in Expert mode right away, with the idea that I would play along with the chords I knew, fumble through the trickier licks and flub the solos to get through the songs. Here are the main reasons why Rocksmith was such a welcome sight:
1) Horizontal charts. Think about it: sheet music is written horizontally. Tablature is written horizontally. When holiding a guitar, the instrument and your hands are horizontal. By not changing the layout of its pro note charts, Rock Band 3 forces players' brains to have to mentally rotate the frets they're reading 90 degrees in order to interpret them. Who has the ability to do that and play along in real time except established guitarists who are already familiar with a song? The tutorials even show horizontal hand and guitar neck placement when guiding gamers in training mode, so they acknowledge that's the easiest way to learn to play, but didn't think to change the game accordingly. Rocksmith's horiztonal, hologram/3D imagery is much more intuitive, and the notes/chords act as an overlay to your fretboard as the song plays. To me, this makes it much easier to try to line up your hand with what you see on the screen--in terms of finding frets as well as the correct string with your picking hand (something else that is more difficult to do with a vertical layout). In addition, the fretboard on the screen is numbered to coincide with the neck of the guitar the player is holding. That sure beats trying to read the little numbers for each string you need to fret to form a chord or the blue "hill" design of notes relative to the root of a chord in RB3. It also helps anticipate where the next note/chord will be, since the fretboard is what remains constant as the notes change.
2) The use of your own guitar. I applaud Mad Catz and Fender for the designs of the pro guitars they introduced for Rock Band 3. I've owned them both and can't think of any way they could be better, but each one has its flaws. The plastic Mad Catz Mustang doesn't give you a realistic feel, since each row of buttons representing the strings is the same size, eliminating the tactile response of feeling string gauge to know which one you're playing. It also hinders visual response, since all you can see is a sea of identical plastic buttons when you look down to try to find your place. In addition, the coated strings don't vibrate or "give" as much as real strings because they're short and anchored down at each end. I felt like I had to be extra careful not to break it. I've gone through enough standard Rock Band guitar controllers; at $150, I wouldn't want to replace the Mustang anytime soon. The Fender Squier is a remarkable idea in its design for the game, but it's a terrible guitar for standalone playing. That's where Rocksmith really excels. I don't know how well the guitar included in the bundle is designed, but for anyone who already owns a guitar they're comfortable with, it's a great headstart in playing the game over being forced to struggle with an instrument that doesn't feel good in your hands. Guitars are like shoes--you have to find what fits you best and feels the most comfortable or you'll be miserable.
3) "Freestyle" playing within a song/user feedback (this may be the most important difference from all previous rhythm games). When playing Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you only have one chance to get the note right. If you miss it, no sound will come from the game to tell you if the note was played correctly or incorrectly, albeit at the wrong time. After playing Rocksmith awhile, it's obvious the game determines accuracy by the output of your guitar, not which fret you played. That is, if your guitar is out of tune, the game will fault you because it's not using electronics in the fretboard to detect which note was played, it's using the signal sent from your guitar through the cable (just llike an amp would). This is great because you still get feedback from the game that you hit the right note, even if it was late. You still hear the tone from the speakers, not the "chukka-chink" noise of a missed note. This is very rewarding feedback because even if you don't hit the note at the right time and get any points, at least you're hearing what you played and learning the hand/eye coordination and muscle memory necessary to playing guitar. Remember when you learned to read and your teacher hounded you to take the time to sound out a word you didn't know instead of just skipping over it? The same concept applies here. You can't just bypass notes and move on if you expect to learn how to play guitar. You have to force yourself to do it the right way. Having the opportunity to play the note again and hear the way it's supposed to sound allows your brain to associate hand position with the corresponding sound. The audio feedback also makes the game as real as it gets--a guitar doesn't care if you play a note late or wrong, it's still going to make a sound. You'll know immediately if you hit a sour note because the tone of your guitar won't match the song. That makes it incredibly easy to make adjustments without having to look at the screen/guitar/screen/guitar to figure out what you're doing wrong. If the note you played sounds flat, you know to move your finger up a fret; if it sounds sharp, slide it down a fret.
4) The game addresses alternate tuning. As I mentioned in point 3, Rocksmith uses the signal sent from your guitar to determine if you played the correct note/chord. It's the most pure way to communicate with the game. Harmonix should be ashamed of itself for not thinking of such an obvious approach when designing RB3 pro mode, and instead creating cheap replica guitars to be used with the game. I've only seen one alternate tuning in Rocksmith so far (drop D), but making it a point to have players tune their guitar relative to the song being played is a key instructional tool that was overlooked in RB3. I've even read comments on YouTube about how someone trying to learn through that game wouldn't be able to play the song in real life because they wouldn't be aware of the alternate tuning.
I'm relieved to see that the general first impression of the game is a favorable one. As one reviewer said, playing Rocksmith makes you forget you're perfoming a task and takes those familiar with the original Guitar Hero back to the day they first picked up a red plastic SG. Personally, I'm already looking forward to downloadable content so that I can start building my library and stop relying on sites with poorly written tablature to learn a new song. There aren't many things that are a bigger waste of time than memorizing a song just to find out you learned it wrong.
on October 18, 2011
A little background you get a perspective for where this review is coming from:
I am 28 and have been trying to teach myself guitar for around 7 years with little success. I have found it difficult to afford lessons. I have found dedication to the learning of guitar lacking as I enjoy gaming quite a bit. I will pick up my guitar, learn some new basic skill, and then step away from it for months on end. I then repeat this cycle. When I first played Guitar Hero on the PS2 way back when I hoped that a game would come out to teach the real guitar without the use of some plastic toy.
This is that very game.
For the price of 2 guitar lessons you get a huge amount of content and an UNLIMITED amount of lessons. I have been very impressed with this so far.
I plugged in my Epiphone Les Paul Special GT 2 and the game walked me through a tuning process asking me specific details about my particular guitar to tailer the expierience to the guitar I was using. It detected my volumte and tone settings as well. The game will also check to see of you are in tune prior to each song or riff attempted.
The progressive difficulty is great! You can attempt any song and it will throw the most basic structure of the song at you to start with. As you hit more notes the game will add more notes - much like any decent guitar teacher would. The visual response for hitting the note on the guitar helps commit your hand position to muscle memory which is exactly what you need to get familiar with the fretboard.
As far as the visual interface goes and the note delivery - you really need to expierience it for yourself. I find it hard to describe other than "natural". It really feels natural. If you have every held a guitar and understand the very basics of tabs you will get it right from the start. In case you don't there is a tutorial on how to read it.
This is the perfect game for anyone who wants to learn the guitar and I cannot praise this game enough for what it has done to my skillset in the few hours I've spent playing. Practicing has always been an issue for me and I don't see that being an issue any further. I want to play this game. I want to play the guitar. It is no longer practice. You get to see your improvement as it happens.
If you want to learn the guitar buy this game. It is $80 well spent.
For gameplay videos, details from the developers etc please visit Rocksmith's YouTube page.
Now that I'm done telling you how great this game is I'm going to go fire it back up and learn a little something :)
After a week with the game my intial impressions remain accurate. I have spent more time in the last week playing guitar than I thought the game would encourage me to. In the span of 7 seven days I have learned 2 songs. Actually LEARNED two songs and the techniques required to play them. I am able to play more than just a power chrod arrangement along the lines of anything by Green Day.
There have been some people on Rocksmith's Facebook and YouTube channels complaining about lag. There is an onscreen prompt letting you know there can be lag and how to avoid it. Set your TV to game mode to start with if you are connecting using an HDMI cable to your xbox. I highly recomend getting the seperate audio hookup for the xbox as well. Many who use headphones know of the adapter I'm speaking of. Since Amazon does not allow links in reviews use this search phrase:
"RCA Audio Cable Adapter for XBOX 360 + Slim"
That is the adapter you need. In order to utilize headphones with this adapter you will need another cable:
"Cables To Go - 03182 - 3.5mm Stereo Female to RCA Male Y-Cable"
Once you have both those cables you will have a lag free expierience over headphones. Alternarely you can use that RCA jack to run the audio though a home theater, amplifier, or (with the purchase of seperate RCA cables) a guitar amplifier. I recently purchased a great pair of headphones called Sennheiser HD448's and they perform amazingly well with the game. Anyone who has started the process of learning the guitar knows the investment into the equipment is expensive. Having a high quality pair of studio style headphones is an imporatnt part of that investment and you should have a pair. Sennheiser will give you the best quality for your money at a mid-range price level and will rival over priced models such as Beats by Dr. Dre.
Thanks to Rocksmith and the Sennheiser headphones I was able to power through Go With The Flow by Queens of the Stone Age at 99% only missing notes when I was double checking my finger position and trying to find the rhythm. Finger position became natrual the second time through the track at it's highest difficulty level and I didn't have to second guess my hand position once. Thanks to the instant visual response you know where your hand is and whether or not you're playing the song correctly. Becoming familiar and comfortable with the fretboard has been one of my biggest challenges in teaching myself how to play. It is becoming less of an issue with each hour sunk into Rocksmith. The sense of accomplishment after that 99% score was fantastic. I was also able to watch the replay and identify where I needed to focus.
I really liked the idea of playing the guitar 7 years ago when I bought my Strat Squire on a whim. It's crazy that having the visual response this game provides that I am now actually playing and learning. My Gibson is no longer sitting in it's case in a closet. It is out and used for a minimum of 3 hours a day. You couldn't force me to do that even a month ago.
Speaking of guitars; spend a little money on your guitar. Starter packs are fine but can be discouraging when the quality of the product impedes your learning. As stated above I have had the standard Strat Squire many start with and after a short time with it I just didn't like how it felt. There are budget guitars and there are value guitars. Epiphone from Gibson is the way to go in my opinion. If you are just buying one online and don't want to go to a music shop for a test drive I would recomend this one:
"Epiphone LP Special II Les Paul Collection Electric Guitar, Ebony"
Again, Amazon search phrase. It keeps it's tune very well, has easy action, a smooth neck, and feels right when it's in your hands. For a guitar under $200 this is a great value guitar. If you're willing to spend a bit more then get a hard case for your guitar as well. Epiphone has a case for nearly every guitar they manufacture.
All of this info is meant for the beginner using this game as a learning tool like myself. These are lessons I've learned in teaching myself. I hope you find the review and general info helpful.
Good luck on your journey :)
on November 25, 2011
Ok, this is not the most fun game ever. It's hard, it requires a lot from the player and there is no story.
But that isn't why you buy RockSmith. You buy RockSmith to learn to play guitar. Most people will tell you that learning guitar is boring when you are just starting out. You can't play anything and are staring at a piece of wood and metal, which you know can whip your emotions around like a tornado, but right now is about as musical as your stapler. Finally after a month or two of trying, you slowly find other things to do and you end up with a guitar in the closet. You keep it in your closet as a secret shame, hoping to gain the skill which eludes you. Year after year it sits there, greeting you every morning and night, silently pleading you to play. Finally the shame wins and the doomed cycle repeats itself.
This is where I was for longer than I want to tell. I could play a few chords and strum a couple of riffs and maybe part of a song. Then my wife bought me RockSmith. I didn't play my guitar "'til my fingers bled", but only because I have work and a family. I'm just now healing the blisters and dreading the first few chords before the numbness kicks in. Yes, I am in pain and I am still playing Rocksmith. I have learned more in a week than I had previously and what's more: I'm enjoying it.
This isn't "The Best Videogame Ever!"(tm). It's not meant to be. It IS fun, but it's not pure entertainment. You will get your ass handed to you on a daily basis. This is where learning occurs. I've re-purposed a quote from Ninja Gaiden Black: "First you must become awesome. Then you must become awesomer." It's not easy, but why should it be? You are learning something that will make others envy you. And more importantly, it's one road toward removing that regret in your closet.
Is it perfect? Damn near. It seems to know what I am capable of better than I do. The songs are good, although I wish the music industry would cooperate to get more music to choose from. The minigames are great and I hope to download more in the future. The production values are high and the guitar response is good. There will be a slight delay between playing and hearing, but you overcome that quickly. I don't even notice it anymore and I can play a few milliseconds faster for it. I think of it as a small feature, I'm learning to modify my playing independently from the song. Even the unlocking mechanic, which was annoying to begin with, really gave me the incentive to continue playing.
So I'm very happy with my purchase and I don't understand why people either love it or hate it except that it is not a pure game. Oh, and thank you to the designers and developers who worked so hard for this. This is a great example that games can be more than games. And if you are up to it, can you make a Spanish learning game next? I have more shame to remove.
on October 18, 2011
I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar. A little while ago I got one of those starter kit and every now and then I pick it up and thinker with it. I'm not a gamer and I'm not a kid, but after seen yesterday the commercial for Rocksmith I decided to give it a shot. The technical aspect of contenting the console to a real guitar had me a bit worry, but they actually nail it. The game learns about your guitar sound and it helps you keep in tune while you play. If you see the commercials they feature Epiphone guitars, I have a Squire Strat and it works flawlessly. There are 4 main aspects that I like:
1. Guitar hero type of game but with a real instrument.
2. Skill building activities or mini games build in...
3. Amp simulator to be used with console. Now you don't need a lot of money to buy amps and effects just to play around. Its kind of having Guitar Rig for a fraction of the price.
4. Actually learning to play the guitar.
The only thing I'm missing is another guitar cord to be able to play 2 people with my son. This game is excellent. I hope that if you buy it you enjoy it as much as I do.
on February 10, 2012
After playing the game for a couple of months, I've had a change of heart. I'll leave my original review below this one, but, to summarize, I was hopeful and optimistic, but now I'm frustrated and annoyed. It's angered me to the point where I've not even opened the case for the game in a month.
My first frustration came from the interface. Granted, it can be customized to reflect the strings as they are or reflect how guitar tablature works. (With the bass notes on the bottom.) However, what you can't change is how the the music comes at you on the screen. It has a type of forced perspective where the notes are coming from a small point in the distance and expand towards you as you need to prepare to play them.
The problem? While the strings are color-coded, the forced-perspective can make it hard to tell which fret is to be used. You can be sure that it's the third fret you're to have your finger on, but then you realize that it's the second.
I tried to put this behind me and learned some songs. After you complete some music to the game's satisfaction and standards, you get to play in a "venue." This is a chance for you to show off what you've learned. However, if you play three songs to get to a venue, by the time you've gotten to the venue, you're skill level might have increased and now you have lots of new notes and musical styles that were introduced that you never got to practice.
How on earth are you supposed to feel comfortable "showing off" in a venue if the target of excellence keeps moving?
You are shown the strings to play and the fret to hold down however, you've never told which finger (or fingers) might best be suited to use. While I can appreciate the game letting me use my judgement, I'd like an expert to (at the very least) give me a hint.
There are a number of challenges that you can play. They're as much fun as learning songs. In some ways, I like them more because they teach me finger patterns. While there's a rehearsal mode for the songs, there's not a rehearsal mode for the challenges. So, if you're trying to figure out the finger patterns in the Hammer-On and Pull-Off Challenge, it goes by so fast that it's nearly impossible to see them. If you try to skip a note so that you can see them, the notes are removed because it assumes you need more practice. If they'd remove one or two notes, that'd work, but they remove so many that you can't really figure out the pattern.
Some challenges I've played nearly spot on (the Slide Challenge) but I've had a score of zero. I'm still trying to figure that one out. Ducks, is a game that acts like a Space Invaders style shooter. When I first played it, the notes were all wrong. I read the FAQ and took my guitar (a gently used Epiphone Les Paul Traditional Pro) to be intonated. Done. It seemed to work, but only for a while.
The songs are rather eclectic but enjoyable. However, if you're practicing a song, get through it to get to the next one, if you want to go back and practice it, the number of hoops you have to jump through to do this is mind boggling complex. Not only that, but the songs are presented to you in alphabetical order. So, if you don't remember the song title, you're out of luck.
Then, I got to the point where I couldn't get a score high enough an individual song to get to the venue. It turns out that, to get the high score, you actually needed to get through some more of the challenges. However, in the song, I'm having to bounce up and down the fretboard. Yes, this is called anchoring, their little anchoring challenge did little to prepare me.
In defeat, I thought I'd try to go to the forums to seek the assistance of other users.
I created a logon on the website only to find out that I'd had one from another game that I'd played. It turns out that you can't change the logon name, so I created a new account. When I tried to log on, I got this message:
Something went wrong, please try again later. If this problem persists please contact our administrators.
Hmmm.... I navigated through their maze of online help and found the place to create a helpdesk ticket. I was told that this was a known issue and I'd be contacted when a solution was found and the helpdesk ticket was closed. Closed! I waited a day, then two days, and then three days. No fix. I created a new ticket. I was told not to do this and it was closed as a duplicate ticket. The original incident was opened on February 2nd, 2012. It's nearly May (two days away) and I still get the error and I can't log in to ask others for their help.
I spent a nice chunk of change on the game. Granted, this included that nifty guitar cable (that works with my Mac and Garage Band/Logic Pro) so, I understand the cost. But, I also picked up a (new to me) used guitar, and bought some XBox Live points. I've invested my time, money, and effort into this endeavor based on their promises and I've come away disappointed.
I really feel that this game had promise, but, I also feel that I've been treated very poorly and gotten the worst customer service ever.
I've heard that there's another game out coming like this from a different publisher. I hope to give them a shot. Right now, they can't be any worse in my mind.
Here was my original review. I regret it and apologize to anyone that bought this game thinking it would be worth their time and/or money. I am truly and deeply sorry.
I'm 43 years old. (Though, I read at t 44 year old level and my father is very proud.) I consider myself a musician. I studied music in college for a short while so, I'm at a position where I only really need to learn an instrument, not basic musicality.
When I turned 42, I decided I was going to learn to play (and take lessons to learn to play) the guitar. I found a teacher, bought a higher-end acoustic guitar, and started to learn. I loved it, and would have continued the lessons, but my son was born, and I needed to spend my time, attention, and money on him and my wife.
Now that things are a little more stable at home (as stable as a toddler can make it) I decided to start again. About the same time, I noticed Rocksmith at Gamestop. While I am not an avid gamer, I do have an Xbox 360, a PS3, and a Wii at home. I was intrigued by the idea of Rocksmith and decided to pursue my goal of learning the guitar this way. I went to a Guitar Center near my home and hooked up with a sales person worth his salt. (If you're in Southcenter, near Seattle, and need a guitar, stop in and ask for Anthony. he was awesome.) He played a bunch of guitars for me so I could hear them, explained their differences, and helped me through my options. Then, after I picked one, he tracked down a used guitar at another Guitar Center store.
(If you buy used, have your guitar intonated. Trust me, it's a real word and it has real meaning to those that do it. $35 (plus tax) and it include a new set of strings. Worth it!)
All set, I opted to buy Rocksmith for the Xbox 360 mostly to support Microsoft, as it is in my own backyard. (I know that they might not need my individual support much, but you never know...)
This turns out to have been a blessing. Apparently, if you use an HDMI cable for you TV, there's a small lag (a delay) in the signal from the console to the TV. I have an older HDTV and have used my HDMI connectors. Instead, I have the composite connectors for the Xbox 360 and it uses analog outputs for the audio.
As a result, there's no lag.
I plugged in and started rocking.
True to the advertising, I started playing music right away.
It was fun, but the interface is anything but elegant.
No matter how well you do, if you score enough points to go on, you get the recommendation to "continue your journey." It's sort of ambiguous as to what this means.
The songs are adaptive, which is really interested. If you start doing well, it starts giving you more notes to play. In many ways, this is really fun. You're playing along with the song and you get the notes Rocksmith thinks you get play.
It's a two-edged sword. While it is fun to watch your difficulty increase in real time, you also get no time to get comfortable with what you know before you get more.
When I was playing the tuba in college (when's Tubasmith coming out) I would not move on to a new part of a piece of music until I could play through a difficult part 3 times. When I was comfortable, I chose to move to the next piece.
There are parts of the game that let you practice parts of the various songs. But you have to leave the "rehearsal" mode to get there.
With the difficulty level that fluctuates with perceived skill level, you frequently get to go on to new songs that incorporate new techniques without warning. Only after bombing a song and back out to the main menu do you get the little message that says... "Rocksmith Recommends" and you get to go to the techniques sections.
I think during my first song set, it might have told me something about Hammer Downs and Pull Offs, but it went by fairly fast and didn't know that it was actual instruction.
When I got to my first Nirvana song, I saw my first chords (playing more than one note at a time) but I had no warning.
If you want to go back and play the songs you've learned already, you can go select them, but you better know the name of the song. You can filter the songs, but there's no filter for the songs you've learned. I don't get that.
I have another frustration with the interface... It tells you what note to play by highlighting a picture of a fretboard that's moving towards you. However, the fretboard frequently comes towards the player at an angle and it can be hard to discern what fret number is to be played. Also, there's no suggestion about what fingers to use.
There's no way (yet) to see what notes you're playing. Not even in one of the practice modes. That's curious.
When I started my guitar journey 2+ years ago, I was exposed to the tablature notation. The lower sounding strings are on the bottom and the higher stings are at the top. This is the reverse of how the strings actually are. Rocksmith will let you mirror this, but their default is to show you the strings as you're holding them. When you attain a certain level of proficiency and want to get some sort of sheet music to learn a song, that may be a difficult transition.
Rocksmith isn't without its challenges, that's for sure. I've also had no end of difficulty in registering my game on their webiste. After I was able to register, I tried to register for their support forums. It's been weeks and I still can't login. So, I update a trouble ticket every day (politely) asking for assistance. Still, even with these challenges, remember what I said earlier? I plugged in right away and starting rocking!
It feels great to rock!
Even with the interface hiccups and the website annoyances and the lack of a system that lets you practice offline (so I can share my TV with my wife and son) there's much to Rocksmith to enjoy. I've downloaded some of the DLC (Down Loadable Content) that's available. These are extra songs that are not part of the game per say. They are songs I want to learn, or, at the very least, want to play along with. Some of the music I have no interest in, so I'm waiting, patiently, for more. I know that they need permission from various copyright holders to use the music, so much will come in time.
Once you use the interface, you get used to it. You'll shake your head, from time to time, wondering if anyone actually used the game to go from one part to the other. (Oh, don't look for an exit/quit feature. It doesn't exist.)
I want to give the game 5 stars in this rating for fun. I can't bring myself to do this because, if I have to turn the game off in frustration, it's not a 5 star game. I do come back to it quickly, so replay value is high.
The overall 4 star rating is similar. The hiccups and the interface need some work, but, it's a revolutionary game and worth every penny. I was tempted to give it 3 stars, but in spite of the frustrations I've experienced, I'm enjoying practicing more than I ever have.
If I could capture screen shots of the technique challenges, I'd probably write a game guide for this game so that I could practice offline and help others do the same.
Still, I expect that I'm going to find a teacher in my area to help me with some of the mechanics. Who knows, maybe I'll get some two-player action started.
If you're on the fence, I'd argue to buy the game. If nothing else, you're helping fund the development of a sequel. In this day of toy guitars and other instruments, getting a real instrument in someone's hands is the best thing ever.
on October 18, 2011
This is the game for any guitarists or aspiring guitarists out there. The game is geared for people who love music and want to play the guitar. That means even if you've never picked up a guitar before you'll feel right at home. No need for music theory or even an understanding of chords, however, if you are like me (I've been playing for 7 years) then your guitar knowledge will only help you. I was able to master songs much more quickly and gain points faster because I knew the guitar. Even knowing the guitar and music theory this game was a lot of fun, it takes some getting used to; figuring out what strings match what color, but you can pick this game up and plug in literally any guitar (I tried three different ones, including my acoustic electric) and start playing some really awesome songs.
Along the way you can do advanced techniques to help you master guitar techniques like power chords, normal chords, hammer ons, pull offs, etc, and really take your shredding to the next level. So far I've played this game for four hours and I don't want to stop!!!
Anyone who has loved Rock Band/Guitar Hero, this is the evolution of all of those other music games, play the guitar for real.
Side note, the developers really had an eye for the novice. They literally explain everything the first time around, that means you can literally use this game to teach yourself how to actually play guitar. I LOVE THIS GAME!
Having played this game for a couple of days now I want to add my additional experience. First, the amp section is much more valuable then you say. I have several fender amps that can't even come close to doing what this game does in terms of effects. Second, most people spend a couple hundred bucks to buy accessories as it is. Any newbie can by a $100-$200 guitar that will work well with this game. Since the cost of RB3 "pro" guitars are about the same, to me, that makes this game less of a niche and more of a universal game since it is a better investment to buy an actual guitar. Third,(at least so far) there seems to be no guitar theory and therefore it will not fully replace a teacher, on the other hand anyone with knowledge from this game could much more easily learn the guitar theory if they ever did take lessons. In fact I have already started using this game to help teach one of my own guitar students. This can be a powerful motivation tool to let people know that they can play guitar, and get them having fun doing it quicker than normal.
on October 18, 2011
Before getting into my review, here is an important tip:
AUDIO LAG!!! If you are experiencing audio lag, the problem is the HDMI cable. You need to run the audio from the RCA (red and white) cables through the tv, headphones, or an external stereo/surround sound system. Doing so will fix the annoying audio lag problem I'm sure most people will experience. So if you buy the game, don't forget about this tip!
Here is a little background about myself to support my experience playing the game:
I am a musician and I've played guitar for a number of years. However, I've always played basic rhythm guitar. I never got around to learning scales, solos, power chords, ect... only regular chords for rhythm.
Now for the game. I have only played it for about 2 hours so far, and I am really enjoying the experience. I'm a pretty busy person, and I often feel guilty when playing video games because even though I do enjoy playing, I feel like it eats up time I could use for more productive activities. Finally, I have a game that I don't have to feel bad about playing for hours on end! I am a worship leader at a church, so guitar is part of my job. Not only is this game fun to play, but I can see how it is going to help my abilities on guitar grow tremendously! The interface is similar to Rockband or Guitar Hero, but the developers did a superb job at modifying the familier interface to work well with a real guitar. It may feel awkward at first, but stick with it, and you will get it. After a few songs, I felt like I was playing Guitar Hero, and it was mind boggling to think I was playing a real guitar. Considering I already have experience playing, the game felt oversimplified starting out, but it was still worth playing to get a feel for the interface. It didn't take long for the game to start getting a little challenging. The game adjusts on the fly to how well you are playing, so don't worry what level player you are. If you have never played guitar before, it will keep things simple for you. If you are an expert on guitar, it may take a little longer, but it will adjust to your skill level. There is so much to say about the game, but I'm limited on time. I just wanted to get a quick review out for anyone considering the game so that you can know this is a game worth buying. If you have any desire to learn or improve on guitar, BUY THIS GAME!! If you have a hard time getting motivated to practice your guitar, BUY THIS GAME!!! If you loved the Rockband and Guitar Hero games, then BUY THIS GAME and quit waisting your time on a plastic toy!!!