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Rocksmith 2014 Edition
Rocksmith 2014 Edition

PC | PlayStation 3 | Xbox 360
Genre: Rhythm
Developer: Ubisoft Official Site:
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date:
24th October 2013
Rocksmith 2014 Edition

Genre: Rhythm
Developer: Ubisoft
Official Site: http://www.rocksmith....
Publisher: Ubisoft
Release Date:
24th October 2013
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Rocksmith 2014 Edition Review
Review By @ 06:08pm 08/11/13
When Ubisoft launched the original Rocksmith, it came shortly after Activision and EA had released what would be the final games in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises. Fatigued on an over-saturation of rhythm games and a surplus of plastic instrument controllers, consumers could be forgiven for thinking Rocksmith was just more of the same.

While Guitar Hero and Rock Band offered consumers a new and interesting way to engage music they love, or discover new tunes and bands, Rocksmith had gone with further and actually attempted the significant leap from emulation to simulation.

Making use of a custom USB audio interface and a real electric guitar, Rocksmith was better considered as tuition software than interactive entertainment, although it is debatable as to how well it succeeded at either of those labels. Rocksmith offered less than it’s rhythm game predecessors for those that couldn’t stick with it --due to issues with its progression system, lag, load times, navigation and whatever else-- but created bonafide musicians (well, guitarists at least) out of players who remained engaged enough to persevere.

With Rocksmith 2014, the developers’ intention has clearly been to address those engagement issues so that more players can reap that very tangible reward. The idea behind calling it the 2014 edition, rather than Rocksmith 2 or some arbitrary subtitle is supposedly an indication that the game is not meant to be a sequel, but rather to build over and supersede the original, and in our view it has been a great success.

As an already reasonably competent guitar player that can play a bunch of songs, and can stumble his way through the odd thrash metal solo, I found Rocksmith 2014 to be a compelling way to both learn some new songs, as well as tidy up and improve on techniques I’m already well acquainted with.

It’s difficult to speculate on the likely experience of beginners or others with various existing levels of guitar playing ability, but after around a week of playing the game, I can attest that my own proficiency was undoubtedly bolstered faster than it would have were I just playing guitar on my own.

2014 Edition features dozens of licenses songs from classic and contemporary pop, rock, metal and alternative bands spanning all eras of the electric guitar, and in addition to its own microtransaction store with new tracks being added regularly, it also grants owners of the original Rocksmith access to the tracks from the original game.

You begin playing a new song, first only having to match single notes, and as you succeed the game adds more and more notes in until you’re eventually playing every strum and full chord. When you’re feeling competent enough at a given song, you can then hit up the Guitar Hero-style score attack mode.

Outside of the songs, an assortment of mini-games offer challenges aimed at improving different techniques such as chord changing, slides and bends, and there’s also dozens of video tutorials from everything from basic instrument maintenance to advanced playing techniques, and a library of chord charts to draw on making Rocksmith a near encyclopedic resource for guitar playing.

As you progress through learning a song, the game re-evaluates your performance and refers you to tuition clips or suggests challenges to match the sections it detects you as struggling with, all of which are additionally incentivised by a points system that rewards players with cosmetic unlocks like different colours for your virtual gear and various fretboard designs.

Then there’s the riff-repeater, that with a quick mash of a button, let’s you loop and replay individual sections of a song, with a quick-access interface to slow the tempo or scale the difficulty, and auto-continue once you perfect it. Load speeds are gloriously fast once you’re in the game as well, allowing you to jump in, out and around songs at will.

As a whole, it’s a surprisingly cohesive system that works really well to keep you playing, and trying to get to that perpetual next step up.

When playing along with songs, the signal output by your own guitar is flavoured by the game’s virtual amp modelling to match the authentic tones of the original artist as closely as possible, all with the benefit of never having to change your own gear. Like most virtual amp modelling, it’s not perfect, but it’s a damn sight better than most casual players would be able to concoct at home without a lot of messing around.

The amp modelling is extended to the game’s freeform “session mode” which allows you to take any tone and play along with a configurable band of instruments that can dynamically match your pace and intensity. Not content with the tones already in the game, you can create your own from an assortment of virtual equipment that rivals some professional recording software.

My only real gripe with the game is that this truly impressive amount of depth and customisation is hamstrung by a simplified user interface. It’s great when you’re in a song and just want to mash esc to restart a song, or space to repeat a riff, but if you’re tooling around with the game’s more complex elements, it’s a pain.

The UI is very game controller-friendly, presumably designed primarily for the console platforms the game also launched on, but creating custom tones and jam bands via sequential menus is horribly inefficient on a PC where you just want to drag and drop all the bits together. It would also benefit greatly from some manner of recording functionally (dream scenario: a vst plugin interface for professional Digital Audio Workstation software to jack into), but I imagine licensing issues with the various artists and equipment manufacturers might make that impossible.

That said, it’s very hard to fault the rest of the game as what I would not hesitate to deem as the best self-teaching guitar guide out there. Rocksmith 2014 even presents a challenge for the most accomplished guitarists, as above just playing a song note-perfect, the game awards additional points and leaderboard cred to players that nail the timing too.

By itself, as just a game for someone that has no interest in learning guitar, it’s probably no more or less engaging than past rhythm games, but for those who dream of shredding, I can’t think of a better starting point.
What we liked
  • The best way to learn to play guitar.
  • The new best way to interact with your favourite rock tunes.
  • Epic value for money as a game, tutor and effects studio in one.
What we didn't like
  • Inadequate UI for its extensive tone creation options.
  • Lack of recording functionality.
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 11:37pm 08/11/13
I've been playing/gigging for 20years and I've been using this as motivation for practise/learning new things and get rid of some bad habits and ruts and its been excellent! The UI is a mess though mostly, don't know when to back out of a menu or press on to quit etc. The cable that its boxed with makes a handy USB interface for the guitar for any PC too, so I carry with my gear.

Also a friend of mine that doesn't play gave it a shot and over about an hour was rocking out some mad tunes like Elephant (Tame Impala) we both freaked out!

I would recommend to players who know they should be learning and practising as a good tool and to newbies
Posted 01:41am 14/11/13
Sorry but NO. This is definitely NOT the best way to learn guitar. THE best way to learn is. Get a guitar, learn by ear. Maybe get a few books and lessons if you're slow to learn but the best way is playing real guitar, NOT playing a video game lol. It's pretty obvious.
Posted 02:40am 14/11/13
in some ways, it's like f**king on a first hot date: no you're probably not going to get to know the unique hums and vibes of the family or the gorgeous curves of the furniture or the way she melts in your palm as she reacts to you playing her heart strings before you get dirty boy with her, but you'll get near instant satisfaction after at most 2.5 minutes

it's the same thing with Rocksmith, and you don't even have to be a rockstar
Posted 09:16am 14/11/13
the best way is playing real guitar, NOT playing a video game lol. It's pretty obvious.
You seem to be confused about what this software actually is. The fact that you're also playing a videogame simultaneously does not negate the fact that you're playing a real guitar.

When playing this game, you are playing real guitar, there is absolutely no distinction, and if you believe that there is, then you are clearly not familiar enough with the product to be making such authoritative statements.
Posted 09:22am 14/11/13
The best way to learn guitar would be to have an experienced player teach you I guess. This seems like a pretty viable alternative though. I'd get on it except I think I am physically incapable of playing a guitar.

So does the game come with a guitar? I might get it anyway.
Posted 09:41am 14/11/13

Sorry but NO. This is definitely NOT the best way to learn guitar. THE best way to learn is. Get a guitar, learn by ear. Maybe get a few books and lessons if you're slow to learn but the best way is playing real guitar, NOT playing a video game lol. It's pretty obvious.

I cant tell you right now, that for me, using a computer game with immediate feedback and a games ability to keep me interested would be the best way for me to learn. So please, be aware that different people learn in different ways.
Posted 10:41am 14/11/13
yeh to be honest as someone who got a guitar and 'learnt' by ear, I have to say I can't see how what I did would be any better than this. imo the best way to learn would be to have a good teacher teach you properly and give you exercises, and for you to do your best to make the most of their teaching. that way you learn the theory and scales which is a massive help later on. at first it'd be super boring though, so you just reward your self by playing rocksmith when you've finished your theory exercises :)
Posted 11:10am 14/11/13
I use Rocksmith instead of tabs, unless there's a song they don't have that I want to play but I still do an hour of scales and theory a day along with weekly tuition. Rocksmith is the fastest way to be a human jukebox with poor technique
Posted 01:48am 18/11/13
I bought it today. Got it for $239 with a Les Paul Jnr from JB Hifi. I suck at guitar, never really played it. Just spent a fair bit of time learning the basics. Really enjoying it. I took the guitar to my mates first and he tuned it up and I had a bash on the drums and he did some crazy guitar stuff. Stoked with what I got for the price. Definitely recommend it, I'm having fun :)
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