Review – Rocksmith
Where I come from, you don’t blow no harp, you don’t get no pussy.
Hey guy, sweet axe! That a ’69 reissue? What tuning, F#F#F#F#EB? You in a band? My band’s called The Hurling Duncans, we’re pretty much a prog-funk thing.. I’m the worst human being alive.”
Rocksmith is the latest in a long line of games trying to replicate the ‘experience’ of being a guitarist, but WAIT: now you plug in your actual guitar (or bass, bless!), so you’re effectively learning as you play, rather than pressing coloured buttons on a toy. The real surprise is that it works; for the most part the game registers the notes you play correctly (it’s a little loose with correct chords, to my constant delight), and as long as you aren’t using HDMI audio the lag is unnoticeable.
As a game, it’s much the same as Rock Band et al, with a ‘highway’ of notes coming at you from the top of the screen, where hitting the right notes nets you points, unlocking more venues and progressing your ‘career’ until you can be that dickhead at the party who can murder 4 songs on an acoustic, over-and-over. There’s also a ‘Guitarcade’ providing mini-games such as ‘Super Slider’ which is basically Zoo Keeper, controlled by doing slides up and down your fretboard.
The song selection is fairly decent (caveat: I have long hair and am the sort of twat who reads pitchfork.com), and the interface is commendably serious (if occasionally poorly designed). You can plug two guitars in, but whilst that girl you’re trying to fire into might have a riot hitting plastic drums, she’s probably going to lose interest faced with a Bmaj7.
Ultimately this is barely a piece of entertainment, but rather a learning tool. It’s not a substitute for proper tuition, and I’m not sure how useful it would be for a complete beginner, but I’ve found it a pretty good way of obfuscating tedious finger-exercises behind fun little games, and you will at least actually learn the songs on offer.
(The FMV crowd is a particularly terrifying thing, featuring swaying dead-eyed teenage girls, drifting in and out of vision; It’s basically a digitized version of a Friday night in Birmingham)