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Too good to be true?
This is a slightly expanded review of the one I did on Amazon some time ago. It's the number one review on there, so I must have done something right. So, let's carry on and get this started. I imported Rocksmith for the PS3 as a absolutely novice player - now 18 months ago - and have put a large number of hours in since that time.
The 1,000,000 dollar question (£40 or thereabouts in actuality) is this. Can Rocksmith teach you to play guitar? The answer is yes. It will even teach you to play note for note some really cool songs. It is all you will need? By no means, but this tool represents an unparallelled way in which you can start down the road as a guitarist.
Your toolbox and the need to fill it
Rocksmith comes with a lead for any guitar with a standard jack interface. The other end goes in your PS3. The UK edition also has support for Bass guitars. As I imported mine from the US a year before it came to Europe, I'll just be reviewing lead guitar functionality.
A caveat before I bombard you with tips. Rocksmith is just part of your toolset to learn guitar. It can accelerate your progression far more than the traditional method may have, but you can pickup some bad habits quite easily. If you can afford guitar lessons, do that also. You don't need many, but it will keep you on the straight and narrow.
If you can't afford or justify lessons, use your internet. There are some fabulous free resources out there, particularly from the excellent Marty Schwartz or Justin Sandercoe. You can get guitar tabs of other tracks not covered by Rocksmith and join groups to give you help and advice. Rocksmith is just one tool in your box.
Play the game
What makes Rocksmith revalutionary is that it can hear what you are playing. This means it knows when you're wrong playing an actual Guitar. Not a peripheral. An actual guitar. There are some technological and design shortcomings that may deter some people, and here are my thoughts on them.
Lag - Rocksmith came in for underserved criticism for sound lag (delay) when it first came out. Fact is, that's your TV lagging due to its own processing of the HDMI signal. Rocksmith can alter this slightly, but recommends a sound system if you still have problems. Does this mean you have to shell out serious cash? Hell, no. You can use a simple stereo, pair of headphones or a guitar amp.
Game progression - Rocksmith can encourage you to run before you walk. You can end up with too much difficulty too easily. For new guitarists, spend some serious time in guitarcade once unlocked, which happens fairly early. You need to train your fingers and hands for what is a serious act of dexterity. The muscle memory it builds in here is an absolute must.
Setlist - This game made the light of day against all the odds. As a result, lack of buying power meant half the setlist was unknown to me. Approach it with an open mind. I've since bought several albums from artists I'd never heard of before this. Out of all of the tracks included by default, only two of them I can't stand. There is also a substantial and growing list of songs for DLC.
Riff repeater - This is BY FAR the best way to learn a track properly. Broken into managable chunks with speed or difficulties you can set. Rocksmith's documentation is awful and you may not realise how vital this is when trying to nail down that tricky solo.
Practice offline - memorise riffs and play away from the game. I write guitar tab (guitar shorthand, which is also how the game display is setup) on the backs of small cards for reference. You really need to hear what you are playing clearly. That brings me onto my next point.
Buy an amp - You must, must, must buy a guitar amplifier. Doesn't have too cost too much, but this is how your guitar is designed to be used. Rocksmith can be too forgiving on barre chords and will not be able to help you perfect other subtleties that your ears (and others) will pick up. You will also find out in short order what your guitar's pickups are capable of.
Know your instrument - This will come with time, but learning to setup a specific type of guitar will save you mucho dinero. You will be changing your own strings, cleaning and tuning your own guitar. The alternative of paying someone else to do it will soon mount up.
Upgrade - Sooner or later, unless you already have a good instrument, you will want to move on from the LP junior or other starter guitar. I have a Squier affinity fat strat (£160) and an Epiphone G-400 (£219). Neither are expensive guiars, but they are authorised copies of Fenders and Gibsons and represent excellent value for the money.
Always visit a local music store and try out before purchasing. If may cost a few pounds more to buy from a store, but they will almost always be willing to do a little work setting up the guitar how you want it before you walk out the door. They'll also be more reasonable should you have issues with what you bought.
Play that funky music
You will need time and patience to become a Guitarist. There are no real short cuts, though Rocksmith gives you the inital encouragement and feedback that you will need if you are starting out on your journey, or looking to resume it.
You will need a guitar. There are some decent Rocksmith packages available that include them that are well worth checking out. £200 plus is not little money, but if you've ever wanted to play lead or bass Guitar, you can. All of a sudden, it doesn't look quite so expensive. I don't regret a single penny. Rocksmith is also available on xbox and PC.
If you are an experienced Guitarist, Rocksmith can still represent an interactive tab book for not much more than an actual printed one. It has multiple arrangements for each track, and with the addition of Bass support on the UK version, could still teach an old dog some new tricks.