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Sunday, January 20, 2013

[Review] Rocksmith for PS3

I know Rocksmith has been out for around two years, but I still felt like doing a review on the game.

I have played the guitar since I was about 7 or 9 years old and had many different teachers. While I may not be a legend like Slash or Jimi, I have learned a few things and been able to play some very notable riffs. Almost immediately after I canceled my most recent guitar lessons with a one on one tutor, I bought Rocksmith.

If you are a beginner and want to learn how to play the guitar, Rocksmith may or may not work out well for you. If you are trying to use Rocksmith as a tutor, I would not advise it at all. Rocksmith is not designed and cannot take the place of a tutor because there are things that a tutor can do that Rocksmith can't.

However, if you have almost no time and just want to learn a few songs, Rocksmith can be that stepping stone.

Rocksmith can teach you basic techniques, however, Rocksmith can't teach you how to utilize those techniques in the correct way. For instance, Rocksmith will teach you how to bend notes but doesn't teach you how to do it efficiently.

My guitar teacher, on the other hand, taught me that I'd need to use three fingers to bend a string to get that quality note sound.

Rocksmith is able to hear notes but can't determine how you played them. For example, some songs will have you hammer a note but if you just play that note normally, Rocksmith can't tell the difference and will give you credit even though you didn't hit it.

Other techniques such as picking, Rocksmith will not suffice. Both of my most recent guitar tutors taught me that to pick well and fast, you must pick strings up then down. Rocksmith does not teach you this which could potentially make you better but probably not because you can't keep the rhythm down as well as you could if you picked up then down on each corresponding string.

The game is built like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. It focuses you on playing songs rather than mastering individual techniques. But, the game can help you master songs. The game has a built in system that allows players to get small parts of the song in pieces one by one until the player can get it near perfect. One of these ways will slow down the song until you have gotten every note correctly and then slowly speeding up the song until you get it right. Again, the game cannot tell if you have hammered the string perfectly or not so it won't be able to help you master these techniques.

What distances itself from normal band games is that there is no difficulty per se. The game, when first booted, assumes that the player is a beginner and treats the player as such until the player has shown that it can master the songs correctly. This is one of the biggest complaints from players saying that they wish they could change the difficulty. For me, it was fine, but then again, I'm not a professional like others may be. My feeling has always been, if you are a great player, it shouldn't take too long before the game realizes that you can get all of the notes perfectly. The only exception I can see with this is that if someone who has mastered the song and wants to play on the game, they may have a hard time playing it differently as a beginner rather than with the chords and notes they've been used to using.

The biggest problem that I have with the game has to be with the music selection. While there are popular bands, the songs aren't the ones you would expect to play from them. I was excited to know that Red Hot Chili Peppers, Nirvana, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and more were featured on the game but disappointed to see what songs they had available. I was expecting something more popular from these artists but didn't see anything remotely interesting for me except with Nirvana. The other bands that I hadn't heard of were great and then there are some classics that you will recognize like Lynard Skynard's Sweet Home Alabama or Nirvana's In Bloom. I was expecting to see some bigger names though. I can't believe there is a game out there about playing the guitar yet nothing from Jimi Hendrix or Slash. I do realize that this is probably due to RB and GH already taking most of the licenses and probably others were too much to pay for.

Now...I have this game for PlayStation 3 and last I checked (probably a year ago) there weren't many songs to download for the game. But, I looked on the Xbox 360 market (a few months ago) and saw many songs that I would've loved to purchase from artists such as Black Sabbath. However, I felt the prices were too pricey for me. I would've been buying single songs rather than packs because the packs only had like one song I would've enjoyed.

I have contemplated on buying the Xbox 360 version or maybe even the one for PC from Steam just for a different experience. Luckily, unlike RB and GH, if you have the cable and a guitar, all you need to do is just buy another game for the other system. I still have my original Rock Band equipment for PS3 and it just sits in my corner collecting dust and I think I can't even use it for Xbox 360 if I just bought the game. So that is another plus that even if the game gets old and/or a Rocksmith 2 sequel is made, you'll have all of the equipment necessary and not be left with useless, outdated equipment to get rid of. It also cuts down on costs. I already had a guitar so I didn't need to buy one or the special pack that came with one unlike Rock Band where I had to pay $160 for the pack and it's all useless now.

While this is the first game to feature an actual playable guitar in-game, it didn't live up to its hype from many of its customers. For me, I enjoy it and play it often. It keeps me going in my spare time and up to speed with playing the guitar. I wouldn't advise anyone to buy this game hoping to take the place of a tutor but more for people who have a game system, guitar, and want to just have fun and/or not get rusty from not playing.

I wouldn't advise avid gamers, like myself, to buy the game unless they are very serious about playing and keep a strict schedule of playing. For me, my guitar sat for months because I was more interested in other games.

Overall, the game is nice but if a sequel is made, lots of improvements must be made to take the place of other games.


  1. For a game like RockSmith, designed to teach you an instrument, a delayed review makes sense. RockSmith is awesome at its core, but has just a few too many quirks to make it an efficient practice tool and "Performing" is just not that fun or immersive.

    To be specific, the scrolling notes makes more sense to me than the Rock Band 3 or iPad Rock Prodigy UI's where you have almost no time to see the next note. On the other hand, RockSmith doesn't clearly identify Missed Notes, Streaks, or Fret numbers for the floating notes. Bends are also such a frustration that it's almost better to trick RS with a hammer on. RB3 had a very intuitive practice environment, and for some reason RS invented 3 different environments instead of imitating RB3's one (patent?). I'm so tired of zooming into that TV in the dark quiet practice room.

    The Journey forces the player to practice a random song or part from your playlist instead of picking the songs you want to master first or even creating a practice list. The player is better off in the Songs area with the Event filter turned on. Being up on stage is great, but where is the singer and other members of the band. Standing still makes me feel like the most boring performer on the planet.

    In all fairness, it was a small dev team on a tight budget, and when I read the Rolling Stone article on the Do-or-Die nature of the development period, I feel fortunate the game saw the light of day. I don't know if RS did enough sales to justify a sequel to the money counters at Ubisoft, but it would be easy to see how even one iteration could make these game much more fun and efficient at teaching the guitar.

  2. Very true, Rob. Unfortunately, we see this too often just as you stated. Video game developers don't seem interested in developing games like this until they get popular. I doubt a sequel is in Rocksmith's future especially since the game did very little for real guitarists seeking a game compatible with their favorite axe. But we can dream, right?


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