Since I first started music classes in primary school, I’ve always wanted to learn how to play a musical instrument. Sometimes life gets in the way and you either get bored of what you’re doing or just forget about it completely. I used to own an electric guitar in my teenage years but couldn’t quite master or understand the basics and I lost interest. Now with Rocksmith 2014 at my fingertips, the interest has returned and I’m back on the rock and roll trail.
Chords have always troubled me when it comes to learning how to play, but within minutes of connecting my electric guitar to my console and slapping the disk into the tray, I was confidently playing basic chords along to R.E.M. and learning about finger placement. When you first begin Rocksmith you are asked a few simple questions, these help you on your journey. Are you a beginner? Do you use your right or left hand? What guitar do you want to play (lead, bass etc)? The menu system is user-friendly and fresh and the variety of modes available also ease you into your musical journey.
Lessons mode is still my favourite part of this title as being a beginner I found each video and demo useful. The detailed videos teach you everything from the basics, such as learning how to hold your guitar correctly, to the more complicated aspects of guitar playing such as pull-ons and pull-offs. These were vital in helping me understand what it is to play guitar. More, the lessons are also rated out of 100%, so if you’ve not quite mastered everything the game will tell you so and you can always return to improve.
Delving straight in to Learn to Play will allow you to choose any song you wish and play it as many times as you like. The difficulty starts off at the easiest point, a few notes here and there, nothing too hard. As you replay songs and get higher note streaks, the difficulty will increase, the Master percentage will also increase as you become better at your chosen song. There’s no rushing involved and the game doesn’t pressure you into raising the difficulty if you’re not quite ready.
Another great addition is Riff Repeater. Here you can set the difficulty and speed amongst for chunks of the song you wish to nail. You can use this to practice a hard solo or replay your favourite sections at your own pace. This is a brilliant feature as you can test yourself from the get-go or just go with the flow and let the game do all of the adjustings for you.
The notes and strings onscreen are easy to follow, each string is coloured differently and when being used will light up. Notes come up the on-screen similar to that of Guitar Hero and Rockband, if you miss any note you will be informed and it’s really that simple. Lag is sometimes present, but it hardly affects the gameplay and you may find that you miss particular notes, even though you’re playing them correctly, but it’s nothing to fret about.
There is a pleasing mixture of songs to get you started and the addition of new DLC track packs is very much welcomed as you can add music to your library that you enjoy and that you want to learn. From The Who to Foo Fighters and R.E.M to Alice Cooper, you’ll know at least a handful of the songs on offer from day one. Unlike Guitar Hero and Rockband, there is little in the background to distract you from your playing due to the nature of the game is learning rather than outright gaming – no music videos or flashy scenes.
Guitarcade is another new feature, this mode is a section of unique mini-games which will help you play guitar better. The games teach you chords and string placement and you must strum the correct string to be awarded points, keep going without making too many mistakes and you’ll be rewarded with a high score. These games, if anything, teach you how to find elements on your guitar using just your fingers instead of your eyes, becoming more confident playing guitar without looking down constantly is a big bonus and is how you improve quickly with your playing.
Finally, there is Session Mode and this is an entirely new mode brought to the 2014 Edition. Here you can play your how you wish, jam a little create your own little band. You can pick which instruments you’d like playing alongside you and as you play your AI bandmates will play alongside. Whether you’re an outright rocker or more a blues type of person, the band will adjust to how you’re playing but be aware they won’t outdo real bandmates.
For the ultimate learning experience, Rocksmith 2014 is the perfect companion for any gamer who wants to learn how to play guitar in their free time. Whether you want to learn every little detail or just jump in and play, Rocksmith is a teacher on a disc. The only downside is that to play you must have the appropriate guitar cable and some form of a guitar which can be connected via a 1/4″ jack otherwise, you’re ready to go and have some fun. Rock on!