Also On: PS3, PC
Now that the music genre is virtually extinct and games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero have left the market, there are still two forms of the video game/music genre that still find itself kicking — dance games and guitar teaching games. This year, as far as the teaching games are considered, you have two titles going head to head. You have Bandfuse that hits later this year, and the recently released Rocksmith 2014 Edition , which follows the original Rocksmith that hit two years ago. The edge as far as release time is concerned goes to Rocksmith 2014 and while the first game was clunky in menu and execution, the developers listened to the fans and have delivered a product that should satisfy most would-be guitarists no matter their skill level.
Rocksmith is a guitar teaching title, plain and simple, and it uses a real guitar instead of those imitation plastic ones you may have sitting in your closet from Rock Band or Guitar Hero. If you already have the original Rocksmith you can use the cable you already own and save a pretty penny by buying the game only version. There are two other versions, however, on the market — one that comes with the guitar cable and you supply the guitar, or if you can find it in your local store, a version that comes not only with the game and cable, but an Epiphone Les Paul Jr. One thing is for certain, no matter which route you take, it is a lot cheaper taking on the Rocksmith lessons that it would be if you were to take lessons from a music teacher. What’s more, you can learn at your time and pace, repeat songs, and even make mistakes without the frustrated look on a teacher’s face.
Unlike the first Rocksmith, you don’t have a tedious story mode you need to sift through in 2014 to make it to lessons and songs. Now you have the options of Learn a Song, Nonstop Play, Lessons, Session Mode, and Guitarcade which are nicely organized and easy to navigate though, complete with vocal coaching to ease the frustration as much as possible. Most of the modes are self-explanatory like Session Mode which has you jamming with a virtual band in a freestyle manner, or Guitarcade that takes quirky little retro mini games to help you hone your skills. The modes are all in good fun, but it’s the lessons and learn a song modes that are the game’s main draw for those either wanting to learn guitar for the first time, or just learn their favorite songs if you already are an accomplished guitarist.
What makes Rocksmith 2014 such a success is the way the game presents itself and holds your hand through every lesson, song, and technique until you get it right. When you chose to learn a song for instance, the game will feed you one note at a time slowly, but as you correctly strum the note accurately the game recognizes your learning ability and adds more notes, then chords, until after you’ve played the song a few times you will, skill level dependent of course, have the full song and chords unlocked as if you were reading a tablature of sheet music. Some songs you will be able to breeze through if they are simple in structure, but others may take a bit more patience and repeating to even get a good portion of the song unlocked. That of course is the beauty of this title as since you are playing real notes on a real guitar, you will be able to play the same song on your own without the game in short order.
The list of songs you will play in Rocksmith 2014 range from songs like Aerosmith’s Walk This Way, Foo Fighter’s Everlong, The Rolling Stone’s Paint it Black, Kiss’s Rock and Roll All Nite, System of a Down’s Hypnotize, and many more with over 50 songs to be exact on the set list on the 2014 disc. What’s more, the game is fully backward compatible with the first Rocksmith’s DLC which includes great, eclectic tracks for any guitar purists to enjoy.
I can say that with great confidence that if you never have played the guitar and are eager to learn, you will find little else that compares to how quickly you will learn by using Rocksmith 2014. Even if you are an accomplished guitarist like myself, there are things that this game will still be able to show you that you may not have known when attempting to play your favorite songs just as they sound on the albums. The only real downer in Rocksmith 2014 that I must mention is the latency issue that still plagues the series. If you are playing on your system directly from console HDMI to TV HDMI, you will find the game unplayable without either having another sound source like a home theater or using headphones. The latency issue isn’t as bad with component, but it is still there and maybe difficult to overcome.
Otherwise, if you have the appropriate sound options, expect to jam long into the night. Rocksmith 2014 Edition is the most fun you will have learning how to play guitar hands down.