This review was written using a review copy of the game.
I’ve been a fan of rock music from a young age, and the guitar has always been an instrument that I’ve been keen to learn how to play. 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, but couldn’t quite master or understand the basics at a young age, that and I lost interest. Now with Rocksmith at my fingertips, the interest has returned and I’m back on the rock and roll trail. Could Rocksmith 2014 really help me learn the guitar?
I’m not an expert at guitar playing, nor have I ever been able to play even a single chord. Within minutes of connecting my electric guitar to my console and slapping the disk in to the tray, I was confidently playing basic chords and learning about finger placement. When you first start 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 once you are thrown into the game itself you are greeted with several options.
Lessons mode is still my favourite part of this title, being a beginner at playing guitar I found each video and practice mode useful in many ways. The remarkable videos teach you everything from the basics, such as learning how to hold your guitar correctly, to the more complicated things such as pull-ons and pull-offs. These were vital in helping me learn what it is to play a guitar, the lessons are also rated out of 100%, so if you’ve not quite mastered everything the game will tell you so.
The lessons don’t just teach you finger placement, but also teach you why it’s important to play using certain fingers. It’s all straightforward and to the point, no waiting around.
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.
Another fantastic addition to this mode is the Riff Repeater, here you can set the difficulty and speed amongst other settings for particular parts of the song you’re playing. You can use this if you wish to practice a hard solo, or can use it as I did to replay your favourite parts at your own pace. This is a great feature as you can test yourself from the get-go or just go with the flow and let the game do all of the adjusting for you.
The notes and strings onscreen are easy to follow, each string is coloured differently and when needed will light up. Notes come up on screen similar to that of Guitar Hero and Rockband, if you miss any note you will be informed, it’s really that simple. Lag is sometimes present, but it hardly affects the gameplay on a regular basis, 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 going, though I assume that the DLC packs will be full to the brim with additional songs to suit particular musical tastes for the picky people. 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.
Guitarcade is another interesting feature, this mode is basically a section of unique mini games which will help you play your guitar better. The games teach you chords and string placement to name but a few, strum the correct string and you’ll be awarded with 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 a guitar without looking down constantly is a big bonus.
Finally there is Session Mode, a completely new mode brought to the 2014 edition. Here you can play your guitar however you like, jam a little, and if you’ve always wanted your own band you can now have one. You can pick which instruments you’d like playing alongside you, and as you play your AI band mates 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, they won’t outdo real band mates anytime soon but they’re good for some quick musical sessions.