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Sunday, November 6, 2011


So this was the launch trailer for a new game that has come out, "Rocksmith". It came out at the end of last month and me and my friend split the cost and went out and bought it. The retail was $80, so a little bit more than your standard $60 console game, but it also came with the "RealTone Cable", the cord that plugs into your guitar jack and then goes into a USB port on your console.

The concept of the game was simple-Guitar Hero with real guitar. As soon as I heard about the game I was intrigued. After I saw the trailer, I immediately decided I had to buy it. I started getting into guitar a\bout 7 or 8 years ago. My parents and I went to a local Music Den and we picked one out as part of a birthday gift. I ended up getting one of those starter sets they offer for around 200 bucks, and it came with a shitty guitar and a shitty amp and all your basics, cords, strap, etc. About a week after I bought it, I was already becoming disinterested. Playing guitar was not as easy as I thought (or maybe hoped) it'd be. It was TOUGH. Very tough, as a matter of fact. But I could figure out a couple cool beginner riffs (i.e., Smoke on the Water, Iron Man, Whole Lotta Love, Sunshine of Your Love, etc.) and that was basically all I did with it. I'd pluck a couple of those riffs once or twice a week and I'd get to show them to my parents, and that was about it.

I really never got fully interested into learning all about guitar a few years later. After I started becoming more passionate and into music, I had a brief period where I was always with friends who were into guitar. After a while, I started to pick up some things. Guitar Center at this point was running an awesome deal where, if you were a member, you could go pick out any amount of equipment up to $1,000 and not pay a penny on it for over 12 months. Of course, heavy interest kicked in if you didn't pay it off before then, so I made sure I did just that. It was then that I got my first and only prize guitar-a brand new pure white Fender Stratocaster, with a decent Peavey amp and an impressive distortion pedal, as well as some brand new cords and a strap. A couple months later, I actually played a few shows to fill in for an ex-friend's band. The music wasn't anything incredibly complex and I was mostly playing some basic rhythm stuff, but it still made me feel like I was actually doing something.

After my ex-friend and I had a falling out, I put the guitar away for a while. A long while, actually. And when I finally picked it up again, I was pretty much right back where I had started. I remembered a few things here and there, but overall, I had regressed almost completely back to novice level. This was frustrating as all hell, because I actually used to be pretty competent with it.

The friend I split the game with, Jon, and I, had actually been starting to play together for a while before the game was released. He was showing some interest in learning and it had started to get me back into it a little bit. Overall though, improvement was slow, and trudging through basic learning and just trying to put in hours of practice just seemed like too much of a chore.

Enter Rocksmith. Like I said, I thought the concept was brilliant. Now that I've finally put a good 8 hours of gameplay into the game, I have to say, I'm very impressed.

This game will be perfect for any beginning guitarist. Not only do you get to play along with songs, the game also features a "Technique Challenges" mode, where you get to work on certain skills associated with guitar like hammer-ons and pull-offs and harmonics, but also a "Guitarcade", with mini-games that also develop these skills, and where you can work on scales, shifting, and tremolo, among others.

One part that is good, and actually a drawback, of Rocksmith is that the game automatically adapts to your ability. If you nail a particular section of a song, the game pumps it up a little bit. Didn't do so well in the last section? Then the game tones it down. Though this is a really awesome part, this can be frustrating as you don't get to set the difficulty yourself, and some players may find it a tad annoying.

The presentation in the game is really well done. Though they might rethink and reboot the format to present how the player is going to play the notes during songs, overall its really well done. The "venues" and "crowd" are lacking, but these are background aspects to your overall gameplay experience anyway.

All in all, the game is incredible, and I recommend to to people who are finding running through your scales and trying to establish finger dexterity incredibly frustrating. With this game, you're playing a game and learning a skill. You're learning to play guitar, through a game. It's mindblowing.

I've read a couple critics who have questioned whether or not your skill will actually improve, and I will testify that both my friend as well as my skills have improved since we've started playing. He's played a bit more than me already and has improved more so due to that, but I certainly have noticed an improvement with myself as well. Also, I'm no longer frustrated and giving up if I can't figure something out anymore. Because now, it's more of my gamer attitude where I'm like, "Well, I have to beat this part!"

I hope Rocksmith sets a new landscape for learning skills through video games, because I think this a really cool step for games to take, and I'm excited to see what comes.

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