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Rocksmith 2014: 3 Weeks Review

When I first saw Rocksmith 2014 (RS) I was intrigued but also feared that this is more hype and that it would not deliver. Now after 3 Weeks I can say that it was worth its money and that for the most part it delivers. There are a few things that do not work well and some of them can be very frustrating but at the end of the day I don’t care what a computer program says about my progress but what I feel I did accomplish and I feel I accomplished a lot.

Before RS I could barely play some chord, played 5th fret pentatonic scale and some 12-bar blues. I had lessons for roughly a year about 20 years back and tried to learn playing the guitar with some books but it never could keep myself disciplined enough to play everyday for a given period.
Since I started with RS 3 weeks ago I played everyday at least 1 hour or more on various things learning songs, techniques, jamming, composing a guitar sound, scales etc. Slowly but surely I can move my hand blind on the fret board and pick the correct string a the correct time. Sure I make a ton of mistakes and I am still have a hard time to trust my feeling to know where my hands are meaning I will look down more times than I should. Compared to when I started I am much more fluent, confident and use less force in my hand playing the guitar.

Currently I am working on the old Police song “Every Breath you Take” and playing it at 100% difficulty and 70% speed is my limit. My left hand tiers out way too fast and I am tick off by a problem way too easy but I start to be able to recover from it.
RS has the ability to reduce the difficulty by reducing the number of notes or the difficulty of the chords but sometimes that is can be a burden in the long run because the flow of the fingers can be easily disrupted by additional nodes, chords, bends, slides etc. That said it helps to get the feeling of accomplishment and for the overall rhythm of the song.

One of my missions was to clear a song on medium difficulty with few mistakes. This is called score attack and it focuses less on the accuracy but rather on the consistency of the playing. What I mean is that it only scores a “strike” when many notes / chords are played wrong in a row and after 3 strikes the player failed the score attack. For example the song Blitzkrieg Pop by the Ramons have many fast power cords but few variations. So even if one missing a chord here or there one will pass.

Looking back I was skeptical about it but I thought I cannot waste more than a few bucks and some hours but now I am hooked onto Rocksmith and there wasn’t a single day in the past where I did not exercise an hour or more and it does show. I could play Blitzkrieg Pop (not a difficult song by any means) in a few tries up to 80% difficulty. Also I remember chords like A5, E5, C5, Am and so on and I have not much difficulty playing scales like the Pentatonic Minor, Aelion etc over the fretboard so that I now can start jamming more freely. And I also completed 110 missions about songs, lessons, jamming, games and setting up a tone.

The only thing that is sometimes frustrating is the sometimes unreliable guitar detector which decides if a note / chord was played correct or not. Sometimes it helps to re-calibrate it or to increase the volum on the guitar but sometimes it does not work right. This is especially frustrating in the lessons because there one is stuck trying to get passed a little exercise.
Finally there are a few things that I would love to be improved. First I would like for RS to tell me more precisely what was played wrong and why and secondly I would like to review the song and my mistakes more easily and quickly like in a fly-over. Also I would like that the Riff Repeater would remember what I did the last time and that I take advantage of the additional buttons on the joystick. For example use buttons to increase / decrease speed, difficulty, switch on and off the acceleration and level-up. This would increase the user experience because when I have the guitar on I want to play and not fumble around with a joystick.

Rocksmith is a great and fun way to learn to play the guitar. More fun that any book will provide and more feedback than any DVD. Even the silly games are useful and can and will improve a player’s skill. The songs are great and with enough energy and stamina anyone can master them. Even for players with less time available than me to exercise can benefit as long as they do it consistently. I only took the lead guitar mode in Rocksmith and so I cannot talk about the rhythm or bass mode but I don’t think these are much different. Still for any players jamming with a band the Session Mode will improve their improvisational skills a lot. There are a ton of different instruments, pre-set Bands to choose from and afterwards one can change the scale, root and much more to get the right session. When I took guitar lessons 20 years back I used a little box that would play a very basic blues band but ran around $200. With RS I have blues, funk, pop, metal, rock etc bands which can play nearly every scale, complexity and speed. The session mode would have been enough to make RS worthwhile but with the songs, games and lessons it is a steal.

  • Andy