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Rocksmith Review: Authentic Guitar Game for PS3

Updated on January 29, 2012

Rocksmith, the Box

Yep, it's a box.  It's a box full of Rocksmith.  From Best Buy.
Yep, it's a box. It's a box full of Rocksmith. From Best Buy. | Source

I love music games

I do. Back when I owned an arcade, I owned a Dance Dance Revolution, a Pump it Up, a couple of different BeatManias, a KeyboardMania, a couple of different PercussionFreaks, and a couple of different DanceManiax. Not all at the same time, mind you, just sort of here and there over an 6 year period. Plus I've had all sorts of console music games.

I've also attempted to play guitar since I was a teenager. So I have a good grasp of music games for both home and arcade and am familiar with what a guitar is and how to play badly.

I just got a bonus at work.

Not like a rock your world and make you rich bonus, but a go to Best Buy and buy some crap type bonus. As I was wandering around, I noticed a pile of Rocksmith boxes. I'd debated whether or not to buy one of the funky "real" guitars for Rockband 3, but went, "I already own some real, 'real' guitars, why do I want a fake 'real' guitar?"

So, I saw the Rocksmith box, looked at it. I thought, "80 bucks and I supply the guitar? That's kind of expensive." I walked away. Then I went, "hold on, this isn't like real money. It is for a review I got months ago. I didn't really do anything for it. Fine, I'll buy it."

The box said "Plug in any real guitar"*

* did make me pause. * is generally not a good thing. However, * merely meant that said "real guitar" merely needed a 1/4" output jack. That way, the 1/4" guitar cord with a USB end will work. I did hesitate a bit because both of my real guitars are 12-string instead of 6-string. But the box didn't say, "12-string guitars are for hippies and folkies and don't count as real guitars," so I figured I'd give it a shot.

I did mention to Liz, the wife, that if the game didn't like my guitar, we could always hunt down one of those Brian May Red Special guitars she's been talking about for years. She perked right up. Liz loves to spend money. I mean, Liz loves Queen. And spending money.

Rickenbacker 12-String Guitar

This guitar actually used to belong to Marty Willson-Piper of The Church.  Rocksmith thinks it was made by Satan to destroy mankind.
This guitar actually used to belong to Marty Willson-Piper of The Church. Rocksmith thinks it was made by Satan to destroy mankind. | Source
Look at all the 12-string goodness.  I do not recommend you try to play a 12-string with this game.  It's a pain.
Look at all the 12-string goodness. I do not recommend you try to play a 12-string with this game. It's a pain. | Source

I got home, dusted off the PS3, and started.

I recently had Liz take the guitar in and have it restrung. Since the strings were new, it was out of tune. As I sat there tuning it, I said, "Hold on, I bet this thing has a built-in tuner." Sure enough, it did. It also hated the 12-string. I believe the error it gave me was, "Satan created 12-strings to destroy mankind."

Well, maybe not that bad. It only hated the 4 octave strings on E, A, D, and G. It didn't care about the B and high E, because those are tuned the same. Since my guitar is strung with the high string first, I had to learn to strum upwards and try to avoid the octave. Still, the game really hated when I hit an open E and hit the octave. It acted like I didn't hit anything. All the time. Until I learned to play louder than I normally do. It liked loud.

The game adjusts to your playing level.

Since it thought I was missing 25-35% of the notes all of the time, it set my difficulty to "spastic 5 year old." Which was about right. I hadn't played in a few years and was pretty fumble fingered. Since I didn't recognize most of the newer songs, I had no clue what was coming the first time, anyway.

Liz noticed one thing that is probably important if you're serious about using this as a learning tool: it is basically just scrolling guitar tab. If it would display the name of the note as you play it, it would really help you understand what you're doing and help develop your ear. It may do something like that later, but I didn't see anything.

The 1/4" to USB cord is pretty cool.

I'm thinking that not too long down the road someone is going to develop some really great computer apps so you can plug your guitar in to your PC and play Pac-Man. Well, maybe not Pac-Man. Galaga. Or Space Invaders. The possibilities are endless.

I really look forward to jacking around with this game. I don't think it will make me some sort of Eric Johnson or anything, but since it does seem to offer 2-player action, it should allow us to somewhat learn to play and have fun.

And I see that bass is supposed to be supported. If not now, with the next patch. Which gives me hope. I'm a much better bass player. No Geddy Lee, but ok.

Rocksmith's Song List:

· The Animals – House of the Rising Sun
· Best Coast – When I'm With You
· The Black Keys – I Got Mine
· Blur – Song 2
· The Black Keys – Next Girl
· The Boxer Rebellion – Step Out Of The Car
· Cream – Sunshine Of Your Love
· The Cribs – We Share The Same Skies
· The Cure – Boys Don't Cry
· David Bowie – Rebel Rebel
· Interpol – Slow Hands
· Jenny O – Well OK Honey
· Lynyrd Skynyrd – Sweet Home Alabama
· Nirvana – Breed
· Nirvana – In Bloom
· Pixies – Where Is My Mind?
· Radiohead – High and Dry
· Red Fang – Number Thirteen
· The Rolling Stones – (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
· The Rolling Stones – The Spider and the Fly
· Silversun Pickups – Panic Switch
· Soundgarden - Outshined
· Spoon – Me and The Bean
· Stone Temple Pilots – Vasoline
· Taddy Porter – Mean Bitch
· Titus Andronicus – A More Perfect Union
· White Denim – Burnished
· The White Stripes – Icky Thump
· Yellow Moon Band - Chimney

Plus there is online content. I didn't check it out yet, but it exists. I'm sure you can buy all sorts of songs. Since the Pixies, the Cure, and Radiohead are on the list, I have high hopes for finding some more interesting things. Not that I expect to find Wire's Map Ref. 41°N 93°W or A Different Man by the Church or something equally fun, but hey, you take what you can get.

The Church A Different Man video Note Marty's Guitar! Then look up. Then look at Marty's guitar again. And Marty, he's the guy with Rickenbacker.

Wire Map Ref. 43 N 93W Live, 1979


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    • profile image

      greg 21 months ago

      Marty is one of my all time favorite musicians. Cool!

    • DougBerry profile image

      DougBerry 5 years ago from Abilene, TX

      The review is: it looks promising. It really isn't much of a teaching tool if you want to learn actual musical theory, but if all you want is guitar tab, it's your baby.

      You could also buy a year's subscription to the guitar magazine of your choice and achieve the same thing.

      I was quite disappointed by the online content. There are very few songs available, it's mainly "buy the things you want instead of playing the games to unlock them" type stuff.

    • profile image

      Cheesebourne 5 years ago

      How about reviewing the game, and maybe even describing it a bit instead of devoting half your article to the woes of using a 12 string.....