Customer Reviews: Rocksmith Guitar And Bass
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on October 20, 2012
(Edit update: Steam is required for this game to run. If you don't already have Steam installed on your computer I recommend you INSTALL Steam FIRST. Get your account setup and working. THEN install this game.) Also, in the folder where Rocksmith installs in Steam is a PDF, RocksmithConfiguration. This goes into great detail on how to tell if the cable and everything is setup properly. Highly recommended reading. Installation does take a while.

I have taught myself many things over the decades so I know it takes time and dedication to start out slow and build skill over time. But for whatever reason I find traditional methods (buying a lesson book or DVD) of learning the guitar too boring for me.

With Rocksmith I don't feel that way. The very first song we start with is "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" by The Stones. I was playing with a band from the get go and I feel that's important for me to maintain interest. It started me off with very simple notes too. I haven't noticed any lag or have had any problems so far.

Rocksmith also has drills called Guitarcade that are unlocked by playing the game. The first Guitarcade unlock is Ducks. Shoot ducks by playing notes. It takes something that could be potentially boring (it would be for me, lol) and makes it fun. There is also a section called Techniques. The first suggested technique is called shifting. Teaching the player how to move up and down the neck. Associated Techniques are the techniques used in the song selected. So with this you can practice the techniques specifically for that song.

If you have had lessons in the past and was bored by it or lost interest in it this could be really great for you too.

Update: The Riff Repeater, allows practicing selected sections of the songs. You can choose from three different ways to practice the section. The sections are shown as a graphic at the top of the page plus the audio is played for each section.

10/31/2012: As songs are becoming harder to play I find myself going to the Riff Repeater much more often. The thing is when you practice the song itself it plays from start to finish., no pausing. Sometimes its easy to get lost. I can use the Riff Repeater to practice the section(s) I'm having trouble with. The cool thing about the Riff Repeater is I'm still playing with the band. I also use Guitarcade and Techniques much more now too.

11/12/2012: When I first started playing Ducks, a Guitarcade game, I played the wrong notes a lot of the time. But as time has went on I have noticed Ducks telling me I'm playing the wrong note, when in fact I'm playing the right note. Its always on the twelfth fret or higher and game shows me as playing one fret higher than I actually am. So I checked my intonation with my TU-15 meter and sure enough the guitar was sharp.

One minor criticism is the interface. I don't know if it was designed this way to accommodate consoles or what, but its a little clunky. For instance, from the Main Menu / Songs. Click on the left arrow next to first album and there are three options. Events, Filter, and Sort. Now I don't know if I'd call finding them an Easter Egg but it sure wasn't readily apparent that there was anything to the left, I just happened to click it (I thought it would just wrap around and I'd go to the last song). What else is hidden I haven't found yet?

01/11/2013: I was having problems with a song that has power cords. I wasn't playing them correctly but I wasn't sure what I was doing wrong. When you play something correctly it (the note or chord) lights up on the games fretboard. If you don't play it correctly it doesn't light up. At the end of the song the game recommended I go to Techniques and practice power chords. When practicing a technique it plays through and doesn't allow for pausing, just like when playing a song. So when having a problem trying to figure out whats going on it's easy to get lost. That's when I switch to my trusty Riff Repeater.

To get to the Riff Repeater its, main menu/songs. Select the song that you want to practice. Choose whether it's single note, combo, or chords and then go across to the Riff Repeater. Then choose the section of the song to practice. After that there are three choices: free speed, leveler, or accelerator. Choosing free speed will stop the song when making a mistake. This has been really great for me. It wont move on until I play the note or chord correctly. It would be very nice if in Techniques there was a free speed choice as well.

01/20/2013: A cool feature is you can adjust the Riff Repeater (Click Pause opens the adjustments menu. Click after tuning up). When selecting accelerator, for instance, you can set mastery and set speed. Set Mastery at 100% and you get all the notes, as you slide the scale back notes are removed to make song easier to play. Set Speed, 100% for songs normal speed and that can be reduced all the way down to 25% speed. So you can really customize how you want to practice the riff.
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on October 30, 2012
I. DVD Installation short guide:

1. The DVD does contain the necessary files for installation. However it requires that the Steam program be installed first to activate your copy (see below). What you gain from that is that the game will be re-installable on any other computer you have, even if you've lost/destroyed the installation disk.

2. On the negative side, it seems that if you don't already have Steam installed on your computer, the installation process will take you to the steam page for the game, which as mentioned above allows you to download it from the internet. Don't do that. If necessary, just run the installation disk again.

3. The game officially requires Microsoft's DirectX 10 (although some people have reported that the game will work on Windows XP running DirectX 9.0c with DX9.0c-class hardware), which most graphic cards have been supporting for the past 5 years. The case with chipsets is a little iffier, especially for Intel ones. If you have a laptop boasting Intel integrated graphics, especially from the 2006-2008 era, (you can verify the model of your graphics chip in Control Panel->System->Device Manager->Display adapters), you should research whether others have had luck running the game.

4. Console gamers have been complaining about the latency introduced by HDMI in the game. Try other solutions first if you can. In my case, with USB in (the Real Tone cable) and USB out (my sound interface) I didn't hear any noticeable latency. If you do, you can play with the value in Options->Sound & Display->Audio Engine: the default of 4 is to prevent audio problems on weaker PCs, but with a resonable config you can lower it to 2. Conversely, if you hear audio crackling, increase the value. The PC config thread in the game forums has more info.

Now, this game requires Steam. Steam requires internet. The game's use of steam is actually Ubisoft trying to accommodate the gaming community, which was complaining about the more invasive DRM tools that their games were installing before. While Steam is not perfect, I think Ubisoft should be commended for at least (and at last) trying something else. Whether any sort of DRM, Steam or other, is a sensible approach to piracy or not is best left for another discussion.

As a positive point for Steam, they regularly run heavy discounts on games and DLC. I look forward to adding quite a few DLC songs around the end of the year.

II. My take on the game after 2 hours of playing with it:

While I've been playing guitar for many years as a hobby, I am really not good at it. Being self-taught as a teenager to save money, I only realized last year that the way I had been fretting strings all along was completely wrong! A teacher could have told me that the first week, had I ever taken lessons.

And that's something that Rocksmith will not be able to do for you. It doesn't care if your sound is bad, as long as the pitch is correct and the picking timely. What it is though, is a fun way to rehearse songs and practice exercises, if you already know the basics. With a steadily increasing library of songs and recently added support for bass, there's no denying its value.

I would rate Rocksmith 4 ½ stars, rounded to 5 to counter all the low ratings caused by installation issues for some people.

Update Nov 1, 2012: Reached Rank 3 after 5-6 hours of playing the game.
Two good things, one bad, that I've noticed
+ Rocksmith forces me to look at the screen. If I look at my fingers, like I always do, I'll miss the next note. Of course, once you know a song by Heart, you can go back to looking at your neck I suppose.
+ With tabs, I'm used to unwittingly slowing down when playing tricky sections of a song. The game lets you work on riffs at your speed but, when playing the whole song, you have to respect the tempo.
- Because Rocksmith lets you be creative between the marked notes to play (wanna solo during that silent section? Go for it), it means you can cheat when playing a note too early by then playing it again.

Update Nov 5, 2012: Reached rank 5, more feedback.
+ Rocksmith taught me something! I would constantly fail the palm mute technique until I started to reposition my right hand when playing different strings. I can definitely hear that I sound better now when playing muted strings.
- The game is way too forgiving. I've mastered sections of songs (speed 100%, mastery level 100%) only to play on my own later without the background music and noticing sound artifacts in my playing. The good news is that it only took me a couple of tries each time to get a much cleaner sound.
+ The guitarcade games, however, are quite hard, at least if you want to get the achievements.
Also, I've updated Installation step 3 to reflect the comment I've received that the game does work on Windows XP with DX9.0c.

Update Jan 13, 2013: Today, I mastered Soundgarden's Outshined solo (as a side note, with practice I've now reached a level where I'm good enough to unlock master mode for most songs).
Having attempted to play difficult solos in the past, with only tabs as my guide, I can only remember how incompetent I felt each time. Without Rocksmith, I know Outshined's solo would still be among them.
Until recently, I had assumed Rocksmith was simply a more fun way to rehearse songs but, over the past few days, using the Riff Repeater's Accelerator (more of a decelerator, really) to learn the timings and Free Speed to pinpoint where exactly my playing was off, I've managed to accomplish what I never could. And I could hear it sounded good too :)
Thank you Rocksmith!
PS: Some will think that the solo is not *that* hard. More power to them! As far as I am concerned, it was beyond my skills. Not anymore.
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on November 10, 2012
This is an invaluable guitar AND bass learning tool in the first place and less so a game. There's nothing comparable to it on the market and the price is right for the very high value you'll get. You'll need the extra tone cable to play it, though.

I've been using the Xbox 360 version of Rocksmith since Oct 2011. If you just want to know how good the PC version is in comparison, you only need to know that I sold my Xbox about 1 week after I started using Rocksmith for the PC.

If you complain about Rocksmith PC being distributed via Steam, you're missing the point: you pay once for the right to install the game on any computer you own or will own, _without_ losing your saved progress (Steam cloud sync) and downloaded content (DLCs).

The first thing I noticed when using the PC version is that it is FAST. The loading times are massively better than on the Xbox and rightly so (DVD vs hard drive transfer rate). I don't have numbers for you, just that when I decide to practice or learn a song, it loads the song before I make myself comfortable with the guitar on the sofa.

PS: If you don't have a guitar yet, go with the Rocksmith bundle for $199. I now have 4 guitars, but that Epiphone Les Paul Jr from the bundle I rate very highly. That guitar has on online price of $110-120, the tone cable is $30 and the game is $60. Do the math.

PS2: My computer is your average modern desktop (custom built AMD 4100 Quad, Radeon HD 4850, 8 GB RAM, Windows 7 64 bit, non-SSD HDD for Steam and Rocksmith).
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on October 19, 2012
Rocksmith is NOT a game! It's much more. As a struggling bass player, I had learned some of the fundamentals and techniques (not all by far), but I had yet to find a practical way to put those into actual music. I own several DVDs and 3-4 books, and had went through most of them, learning the "basics" but for some reason couldn't transfer those exercises and practices into making music. Rocksmith is bridging that gap. Let me be clear. I do not believe you can use Rocksmith to go from Zero to Hero because there's much more to playing bass (in a band) than it can teach. What it CAN do is transfer techniques into music, help you learn songs, improve those techniques you have learned and give you confidence to maybe join a band. It's also a lot more fun than playing 30 seconds of music to canned backing tracks. If you're just wanting a game, I suggest Guitar Hero or Rock Band. They're easier and less expensive than buying an actual guitar or bass. If you've always wanted to make REAL music on a real instrument, THIS is what you've been looking for.
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on November 19, 2012
I would recommend RockSmith to anyone wanting to have fun learning how to play the guitar or improve their guitar playing.

I have the P.C. & PS3 version & much prefer the P.C. version for I am able to take it on the go with me by just grabbing my laptop & guitar instead of having to dismantle my PS3 game system.

The P.C. version is also more user friendly & faster to load & update as it was released 1 year after (10/2012) the X-Box & PS3(10/2011) version so many of the "glitches" were removed & the game improved upon for the updated P.C. version.
The P.C. version also comes stock with the Bass Guitar play to as the older(pre 10/2012) versions for X-box, PS3 must be purchased via D.L.C. to have Bass Guitar play.

If you have been playing the guitar & seem stuck in a rut the RockSmith can help you improve as the complete song is there for you to learn contigent upon your motivation & dedication. If you are a beginner RockSmith will teach you at your pace & ability as to learning to play the guitar with many interactive games to help you "earn your chops"

RockSmith is my favorite game EVER......!!

Rock On..!!!
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on October 19, 2012
This review is for the PC DVD version only. I'm a fairly experienced but rusty guitar and bass player so I thought this game looked like a fun chance to tighten some rhythm skills and generally make some noise. Be aware that it does require an internet connection and possibly some patience to install; I had some difficulty getting it installed due to their unfortunate use of the Steam client - which has never once failed to cause me headaches when installing and launching games - however, once running, I was quite impressed with overall sophistication of the game and overall playability. It quickly ramped up from very basic one string parts to more difficult combo riffs and incorporates more advanced techniques such as string slides, bends, hammer-ons, etc. Rocksmith seems to be balanced and adaptive enough to make it a fun and effective learning tool for both total beginners as well as more experienced players. I wish this game had been around 20 years ago. I'm quite happy with my purchase and I'm sure I'll be putting alot of time into this game - especially if they add more indie and country-influenced tracks. If it were not for their use of Steam, I'd give it 5 stars.

Some points worth knowing:
1) This PC version does come with the required guitar-to-usb cable (1) in the box - you can buy a second to play in tandem but I haven't tried this yet.
2) I had to run the sound out of my computer via analog line since the HDMI audio de facto causes too much latency, which they do a good job of documenting solutions for. HDMI video looks awesome though on the HD TV.
3) The data files are installed from the DVD but the installer client (Steam) requires an internet connection for account setup and whatever else it's quietly and often failing to do in the background. Plan on spending some time to get it installed since it still took about 25 minutes to complete once I got past the Steam issues.
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on December 14, 2012
I would have rated it a 5 but the lack of PC setup instructions caused the lower rating. Finally found some instructions @ UbiSoft's website for configuring the sound. The program is a little clumsy navigation wise due to its keyboard interface.
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on November 16, 2012
i was worried about buying this game after reading some of the reviews. i thought it would be hard to install or that it wouldnt work. i had zero problems what so ever.

it took about ~10 minutes to install, and i was up and running in no time. (i do suggest you install Steam and have an account beforehand if you havent already)

the only note id give anyone thats curious (even if you hadnt thought about it this will still help) is that youll have to use regular guage guitar strings (also a regular 6 string guitar). there isnt an option to tune thicker guage strings. itll just ask you if youre using a bass guitar and tell you to switch repeatedly. and there also isnt an option to use more than 6 strings. (im guessing these things are something they may add in later..hopefully)

i have very limited knowledge of guitar. i know a few chords and some scales, but thats it. so far this game is fun. i never had any interest in the "guitar hero" games because i couldnt justify using a piece of plastic with buttons in place of an actual guitar.

another note id give to the people that made the game is treat us like guitar students more often. dont just make us follow string colors. tell us the actual notes were playing so we can LEARN. when a new person plays the thick E string tell them theyre playing the thick E. not just the "red string". thats the only major problem i have with the game overall.

so to make a long review short: the game is well worth it if you want something thats fun but a LOT more advanced than "guitar hero". its not easy but it is fun, and your fingers will HUUUUUUURT.... but in a good way.
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on January 17, 2013
This has by far been the most fun I've had playing guitar since I started playing around 10 years ago. I think I'm right in the sweet spot for this game. Not a beginner guitarist but far from a pro. After playing for just a couple of weeks I can tell that my skills have improved and it's great having songs to play along with. The way the game adjusts the difficulty to match your skill works well and makes it easy to jump into a new song. The riff repeater and guitarcade games are great learning aides also. The game comes with a wide variety of musical styles which has exposed me to a couple of bands I've never heard before and have enjoyed.

A couple of caveats:

You guitar needs to be set up correctly, particularly the intonation. It's a relatively easy adjustment on most guitars. If you don't know how to adjust the intonation on your guitar there are a number of youtube videos that will walk you through it.

The default settings for the game should also be tweaked to minimize lag. (Lag is the delay from the time you pluck a string to when you hear it from the computer.) On Ubisoft's forum there is a guide to how to tweak the config file.

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on December 10, 2012
This software is perfect. It's hard to believe I"m using my actual guitar to learn songs this easily. Had it a week now and am at the point where I start thinking about playing songs at work and can't wait to get home.

The cool thing about this software is that is dynamically adjust to how good you are. If you hit all the notes, they increase the song until you are playing at 100%, but will pull back if you start to lose it. Pretty cool. It goes over technique and vocabulary too. And has a "riff-repeater" section that allows you to pick any part of any song and keep going over it until you master it, and will even stop until you hit the note right.

The best part for me is that all the high end effects and sounds that come out of pro equipment, is mixed right into the software and comes out through your speakers. So, what ever amp the band used in making of the song, is automatically turned on for you. So bad-a** for that reason! Plugging my guitar back into my regular 15 watt Behringer, just doesn't sound the same :)

As you play, all the other instruments in the song, including vocals, sound as well. Also a plus. And it helps you tune your guitar before ever song.

One negative, it will not teach you how to read music, only how to play certain songs. I'm cool with that for now.

You can also download more songs that the ones that come with the CD. They cost about $3 each.

Installation- Like all the other reviews say, yes, install Steam and create an account BEFORE you install the software. I did this and had NO problems installing the software.
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