Originally appeared on a very old blog of mine, which no longer exists.
A few days ago, I had the opportunity to attend one of the best concerts of my life, the Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival. Upon arriving early and being one of the first metal heads into the fest, I wandered around and ran into something unexpected, an Xbox 360, a pair of Astro Gaming headsets, two guitars and a nice demo of Rocksmith. After watching two others try the game out, I decided to jump ahead and take a stab at the game and see if the game fulfills on it’s promise to be a real guitar game.
Upon putting the Astro Headsets on so I can hear the game over the metal music in the background and putting the guitar around my neck, I instantly felt attached to the game. While feeling familiar to Guitar Hero, it is no where near the same experience. I scrolled through menus, found a simple song I know from previous music games, In Bloom by Nirvana, and selected it.
Instantly, I was brought into a quick tuning / calibration menu, which at first was pretty confusing and I actually needed a bit help because I wasn’t playing the notes open, but instead holding down the string making the game think the guitar is out of tune. After I got all situated with my embarrassing mistake of not reading the text on screen, I was immediately brought into the game and started playing.
When you play any song in Rocksmith, you are presented with a virtual guitar neck and a note track with a few numbers listed on it. Those numbers are reference points for frets on the actual guitar. On the note track, there are numbers listed which you use as reference points as to which fret you will be using for one particular note. For example, the numbers 3 and 5 will pop up in the corresponding lanes on the note track and if a note comes before the 3, you will be using the 2nd fret. As notes flow toward you, they will be in varying colors which represent different strings. From what I played, I was only given two strings to play, the 6th (E) string, which was red, and the 5th (A) string, which was yellow. When the note of that color flowed to the guitar neck at the bottom of the screen, you would pluck the corresponding string, thus playing the note. All of this does sound pretty complicated (although, it isn’t once you understand), so look at the picture below which may help you out a bit.
As you can hopefully see, it does seem a little easier to understand now. After missing a few notes, I finally understood what to do, and how to do it.
Rocksmith to me seems to be a trial and error learning experience. When I started off, I was missing many notes, forgetting where my fingers were, constantly looking at the guitar, etc. After about 30 seconds though, those actions started to cut down and I started to learn where things are on the guitar and feeling like I knew how to play, even though I was only playing two notes. What makes the game even better with the “trial and error” experience is that once you start doing better and better, the game’s difficulty picks up gradually while you are playing. You can start off the song by playing one note and eventually be playing all six.
In my opinion, Rocksmith shines when it comes to user error. You can miss / play all you want in between notes all you want without failing or loosing your score. In fact, you cannot fail a song due to the auto adjusting the difficulty based on your performance. I love this due to the fact that anyone now can pick up and play the game and have fun, regardless of age or talent.
With all the fun that Rocksmith brought, I did notice one small “bug”, which might not have been a complete bug, but did annoy me. There was a very slight delay and it bugged me a lot. Being a strong Guitar Hero and Rock Band player, TV delay is the one thing that annoys me. I am unsure if it was the TV or the game causing the lag. I didn’t notice any TV delay calibration anywhere, although, I didn’t have much time to look.
Rocksmith is a very solid game. It is only true “guitar game” coming to the market. Although I only had less than three minutes to play the game, those three minutes made it clear that Rocksmith will stand out from all the other rhythm games. I honestly do wish I had the ability to play Rocksmith again and put the game to the test with a demo on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace, although I would have no way to plug my guitar into the Xbox. Rocksmith will be bringing my old dusty guitar back out of my closet, and many others, once and for when it releases on October 11th, 2011.
Thanks to Ubisoft and the entire Rocksmith team for bringing Rocksmith to Rockstar Uproar festival for us all to try out before it releases!