Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Platform(s): PC, PS3, Xbox 360 Release Date: 22 October
Rocksmith 2014 is the followup to 2012’s innovative teach-yourself-guitar game and along with a new catalogue of songs it boasts a raft of improvements and new features to make it easier to play and learn how to play.
As with the first game, the idea of Rocksmith 2014 is to take the fun of playing along with your favourite songs, as pioneered by Guitar Hero, and stretch it to its logical conclusion: actually teaching you to play guitar. So where with Guitar Hero you had a guitar shaped controller, with Rocksmith 2014 you have a real electric guitar – whichever one you like. Using the included “Hercules” USB adapter, you simply plug the guitar straight into your console or PC and the software does the rest. It creates the myriad guitar tones available throughout the game, can be used to tune your guitar and of course it can tell which notes you’ve played – it’s clever stuff.
Similarly, where Guitar Hero (and of course Rock Band) showed a virtual representation on screen of the five buttons on the pretend guitar, here a full virtual fretboard is represented – yup, all six strings and 22 frets. The increased level of complication is immediately obvious; I’ve played guitar for well over 10 years and still struggled to get the hang of it during the hour or two I had with the game. Not that it is difficult to interpret per se but that reading it is a skill in itself that will take practice.
So that’s the basic premise, but what’s new in Rocksmith 2014…
The most obvious new addition is simply the new setlist. The game will include around 45 songs by known artists with another dozen or so bonus tracks written by the design team. Ubisoft hasn’t released a list of all the included songs yet but has named 35 tracks, which are listed below. There will also be regular new tracks available as DLC, available both for free and in paid-for bundles. All downloaded songs from the original game are also compatible.
Aerosmith – Walk This Way
Alice Cooper – No More Mr. Nice Guy
Alice In Chains – Stone
Arctic Monkeys – R U Mine?
Avenged Sevenfold – Bat Country
Bob Dylan – Knockin' On Heaven's Door
B'z - ultra soul
EarlyRise – Wasteland
Iron Maiden – The Trooper
Jack White – Sixteen Saltines
Kiss - Rock and Roll All Nite
La Sera – Love That's Gone
Magic Wands – Black Magic
Mastodon – Blood and Thunder
Muse – Knights Of Cydonia
Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box
Oasis – Don't Look Back In Anger
Pantera – Cemetary Gates - Remastered Version
Paramore - Now
Paws – Sore Tummy
R.E.M. – Losing My Religion
Radiohead – Paranoid Android
Red Fang – Wires
Rise Against – Savior
Screaming Females – Rotten Apple
Slayer – War Ensemble
Splashh – All I Wanna Do
The Dear Hunter – Stuck On A Wire Out On A Fence - Orange
The Kinks – You Really Got Me
The Rolling Stones – Paint It, Black
The Shins – For A Fool
The Smashing Pumpkins – The Chimera
The Who - My Generation
Weezer – Say It Ain't So
White Zombie – Thunder Kiss '65
The set list isn’t the broadest with a definite focus on guitar-driven indie and rock tracks rather than funk, blues, jazz, classical or the guitar parts for more subtle pop tracks. For the most part this will probably fit the potential audience but this writer certainly would’ve liked to see a bit of Nile Rodgers or such like.
The next most obvious new feature is the session mode. This allows you to setup a customisable band to accompany you while you play. You can choose from a whole host of bass, guitar, drum and keyboard sounds that will strum, bash and tinkle along with you as you play, increasing in speed and intensity along with your playing. You can also set the beat, the song structure, the tuning and the scale to match your style.
We were rather impressed with it overall. It was easy to pick up, was a fun and different approach to learning and in particular for more experienced players is a great way to practice improvisation within a certain scale structure, particularly for solos.