Back at the end of 2012, I was lucky enough to review, what I described as a revolution in gaming. That game was Rocksmith Authentic Guitar Games.
To say I was impressed with Rocksmith is an understatement. Unlike other guitar games such as Guitar Hero and Rockband, Rocksmith actually teaches you how to play the guitar. I’ve actually spent a whole year playing Rocksmith and have mastered many of the songs included with the game, as well as many, many more that I’ve purchased through the Rocksmith store. I love Rocksmith and always will. Although I’m still not ready to take my humble guitar skills further than the living room, give me another year and I believe I will be good enough to take to the stage. And that will all be thanks to Ubisoft the people behind Rocksmith.
So being such a lover of the game, I was ecstatic when said Ubisoft people sent me a copy of Rocksmith 2014 Edition to review. The latest edition comes with a whole new set of songs to learn, which is of course great, but doesn’t mean you lose the songs from the previous games because for a few quid you can buy a song importer tool that will import all the tracks from the previous Rocksmith, as well as any that you’ve purchased. Meaning theoretically you don’t need to keep the previous game as you can play all your old songs on the latest version.
So what is the difference between Rocksmith 2014 and the original? Well for starters, the whole game aspect is gone. Rocksmith is now predominantly an educational aid. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this at first, as being a serious gamer, I did kind of like that aspect to it and was a bit disappointed to see it go. But after six weeks of playing with Rocksmith 2014, I’ve come to the conclusion that axing this was a necessary evil, for two very good reasons. Firstly it’s actually not needed, Rocksmith is a teaching aid, it’s not a game. It includes everything needed to learn to play guitar, so it makes sense to market it that way. And secondly, getting rid of the whole game concept makes it instantly more appealing to the establishment. I’ve noticed that there seems to be a stigma attached to learning to play like this. A lot of musicians that I know have turned their noses up when I’ve suggested they give Rocksmith a go, simply because this is a new way of learning and a different way than the conventional one that they used to master their skills. And cutting back on the whole game aspect is an obvious way of making it more appealing to serious musicians.
The only game aspect that actually remains are the mini-games. The mini-games help you hone various techniques such as bends, Harmonics (I detest Harmonics) and even chord progression. They do tend to get boring after a while though, so I find its best to play them sparingly.
One of the most important parts of Rocksmith and one that the 2014 edition does so much better than the original is the tutorials. These teach you invaluable techniques that you’ll need on your journey. Pretty much everything you could ever want to know about playing guitar from attaching your strap, to slides, legato, right through to complex techniques like Syncopation, Pinch Harmonics (I haven’t got to these yet so don’t ask what they are) and even things like restringing your guitar (presented by Ernie Ball no less). These new tutorials are a massive improvement over the original games, which were good but nowhere near as in-depth as in the latest version.
So do I prefer the 2014 Edition of Rocksmith over the original? Originally I would have said no. I’m a hardcore gamer and I actually really enjoyed this element to the original but the more time I spent with the 2014 Edition, the less this mattered and to be honest the quality of the tutorials in Rocksmith 2014 more than balance out the lack of a scoring system. The truth is I love Rocksmith, whether it’s the original game or the 2014 Edition, Ubisoft are onto a winner here and I truly believe that it’s just a matter of time before the ‘game’ is accepted by the establishment and receives its rightful crown as the ultimate guitar teaching aid!
10/10 They’ve done it again. Rocksmith 2014 Edition is easily the ‘game’of the year….