Video Game Review: Rocksmith

I very rarely review video games, mainly because it’s not that often I have a chance to really play a new one. However, when Rocksmith came out, it really perked my ears up. I got an electric bass a few years ago, and while I’ve had fun fooling around on it now and then, I’d never really found a way to have fun with it and actually improve my playing.

Full disclosure: I an acoustic guitar class at BYU for a semester. I have an acoustic, as well, and I really liked playing on it. Mainly strumming chords. Nothing too elaborate. Bar chords tended to intimidate me, if that means anything to you.

I’d played Guitar Hero and Rock Band some, but I couldn’t help feeling kind of silly–like I was playing on a pretend guitar. Probably because, you know, I kind of was. Games like Guitar Hero do a great job of making you feel like you’re actually good at playing guitar, without actually being good at playing the guitar. Devoting the kind of practice necessary to really get good at the game felt pointless to me. I might as well devote the time to learning the actual instrument.

Enter Rocksmith.

It works with any electric guitar (and they’re promising a bass add-on in the not too distant future). It’s got a similar “note highway” that everyone’s familiar with from Guitar Hero–it’s just that this one incorporates fret numbers and six different strings. I got it (and an electric guitar) from Santa for Christmas for me and TRC, who (as you’ll recall) has been wanting a guitar for Quite Some Time. In an ideal world, this game would actually help me learn how to play the guitar better, and I’d enjoy doing it.

It has exceeded my wildest expectations.

I can play for hours on end (not that I do–I usually have to force myself to stop playing after an hour, since I do have other things I need to be doing besides learning to play the guitar. Although I don’t feel too bad, because I’m actually learning something, as opposed to perfecting how to play a plastic toggle.) It scales the difficulty to your ability, automatically. Basically, it does everything I dreamed it might do. It makes me feel like I’m playing along with the song in question, it’s improving my ability, it’s a blast. In the few weeks I’ve had it, I’ve already seen my skill go up noticeably. It’s taken me from a general knowledge of the guitar to actually being able to play solos on some of the songs.

If you’re not a guitar player and never hoped to be one, then this game obviously isn’t for you. And if you’re an expert who shreds out songs like they’re nothing at all, then you might want to think twice about this one, too (although it really does a great job of making you feel like you’re part of the band–and it has some really fun guitar-based games on it, as well). But if you’re like me–a novice or intermediate player, or someone who would really like to play, then this is perfect for you.

Once TRC gets a bit older, and once they have the bass add-on out, I could totally see me playing with my son. I’m really excited for it.

There are two versions–one with just the game and the cord you need to connect your guitar to your console (it’s running for about $60 on Amazon right now), one bundled with an electric guitar (that runs for $200 normally, though the price on Amazon is now up to $250). The bundled guitar is supposedly just fine. Not fantastic, but very usable. Rumor has it Santa got my guitar separately for $99 (on sale from $200) through Amazon, and the game just might have been on sale for $40 over Christmas.

Expensive? For a video game, yes. For an actual learn-to-play the guitar course? Not so much.

Anyway–there you have it. If any of you have questions, I’m happy to answer them. Meanwhile, I think I have to go practice some Lenny Kravitz.

2 thoughts on “Video Game Review: Rocksmith”

  1. Does it have to be an electric guitar? In other words, can you have an amp cord attachment on your acoustic for it to work? (I have an acoustic guitar that I’ve been meaning for years to learn to play better, but haven’t–I’d love to be able to play better but wouldn’t really care about learning electric.)

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