Being a guitar enthusiast I was plagued with questions about Guitar Hero when it hit the market. People thought as a guitarist I would be drawn to the game. The opposite is actually true. The game the is closer related to the Milton Bradley pop culture darling Simon than any stringed instrument I have ever seen. These plastic controllers will make the gamer no more familiar with a guitar than a standard game controller will. My biggest issue with these first generation guitar games was and still is, in the time it takes to finish the game the player could have actually learnt how to play guitar.
Rocksmith by Ubisoft address all of these issues and more. Rocksmith allows you to use any standard electric guitar as a game controller. If you do not own a guitar there is a Rocksmith bundle package that comes with an Epiphone Les Paul Junior guitar. This guitar is no joke, Epiphone is a real deal instrument. This guitar comes from the same lineage and bloodline as the Gibson Les Pauls you have seen Jimmy Page, Slash and Zakk Wylde play. The pickup, hardware and finish are all inspired by the original.
The game itself is mind blowing. I have worked as a guitar teacher and I am astonished by the teaching method Rocksmith employs. Instead of starting of the student with simple phrases, scales and chords, Rocksmith has the gamer play pieces of more complicated phrases. Let me clarify that statement. Rocksmith pushes you into the deep end of the pool, you start off emulating guitar players like Keith Richards, Jack White and Kim Thayil.
Instead of trying to match these guitar gods note-for-note the game will have you play let’s say every 5th or 10th note played. The game has an intelligence that will increase or decrease the number of notes needed to play depending on your aptitude, the better you get, the harder the game gets. Before you know it you are hitting every note and you are a real deal guitar player. A prime example is the Black Keys song “Next Girl”, one of the first songs you learn. The song starts with the gamer (or should I say student?) plucking out a few notes. Before long I saw a classic blues scale emerging, the blues scale is the foundation of 95% of the rock guitar solos ever played.
This is an incredibly intelligent way to teach guitar. I promise you, when you finish this game you will be a gig ready guitar player.
For those of you out there that have already mastered your axes the game (it feels guilty calling this just a game) has a lot to offer for you also. I don’t care how advanced a player you are, Steve Vai could get lost in this game for hours. There is a Guitarcade mode to this game that has a ton of great trainers.
Super Ducks is a Space Invaders type game that you use your fret board for a controller. Big Swing Baseball, Super Slider, Harmonically Challenged will all provide hours of distraction while increasing your speed and accuracy. Dawn of the Chordead is great kitsch, you kill zombies with guitar chords. Rocksmith is a must own for any guitar player, on any level. Ubisoft is adding downloadable content, expect to see Rocksmith as an ever expanding platform.