Rocksmith is Ubisoft's attempt at entering the stagnating music genre. Although many other games like this are on the market, Ubisoft is hoping to differentiate Rocksmith from the competition by adding compatibility with real electric guitars, adding a more educational bent to the game. By using a real guitar, the game purports to teach chords and notes to novices, while an adaptive difficulty level will ramp up the challenge for guitar vets. The technology behind the game is undeniably impressive, as it is the first video game to allow for a true plug-and-play experience with a real electric guitar, no matter the manufacturer or model of instrument. Once you learn how to play the song using the in-game prompts, you can plug the guitar into an amp and play the song through the amp, with no game necessary.
Rocksmith is played on any real guitar that is equipped with a 1/4-inch jack socket. The game is bundled with a special 1/4-inch audio jack-to-USB cable that allows the player's guitar to be plugged into the gaming system. A regular controller is required for general menu navigation, but the majority of the gameplay is performed on the instrument itself.
When playing a song, the player is presented with a cross section of the guitar neck oriented horizontally at the bottom of the screen. Each string on the guitar is labeled with a different color. Notes in the song are indicated by streaming colored rectangles placed within vertical segments that line up with the guitar's frets. As in other guitar-based music games, a note is played when it crosses the displayed portion of the neck at the bottom of the screen. The color of individual notes that stream down correspond with the string they should be played on, while their horizontal position indicates each note's fret on the guitar's neck.
In addition to the basic note indicators, the game also presents interface elements to specify certain guitar techniques. Open notes, meaning notes played on un-fretted strings, are indicated by horizontal lines of the appropriate color. Other techniques, such as palm mutes, bends, slides, and harmonics are also indicated with distinctive symbols over their respective notes.
Every song is broken up into individual phrases, which can comprise a section or riff within the song. Each song starts out at a basic level that includes only a few notes that comprise the entire phrase. As the player consistently completes a phrase, more notes are added until the player maxes out the phrase and is playing all of the notes/chords that comprise it. If the game detects many missed notes within a phrase, it levels down to allow the player to regain a grasp on the phrase. Any phrase can be practiced individually in the games Riff Repeater and leveled up separately from the song itself.
Playing songs or completing gigs earns the player RSP, which increases the player's level within the game. As the player's level increases, new game elements are unlocked including new gig locations and guitars.
On June 5, 2012, Ubisoft announced the addition of bass guitar support to the core game via download content. This update will let players plug in a bass guitar and allow them to play the bass portions of songs available in the game. A standard 6-string guitar can also be used to emulate a 4-string bass if that's the only option the player has. The bass update will be released on September 4, 2012, and will be available for $29.99. Additionally, on October 16, there will also be a new retail edition of the game, available for $79.99, that will have the bass support included on the disc.
The bass update will also include new bass specific technique challenges, mini-games, and video tutorials to practice bass playing concepts like 2-finger plucking, slapping, and popping.
The main form of progression in Rocksmith is structured around the format of a guitar player's rise to stardom, which is referred to as the "Journey". Every step in the journey is based upon practicing and performing a setlist at several gig locations. Individual setlists are comprised of groups of songs that generally increase in difficulty and required technical skill as the game progresses. Players can choose to rehearse these predetermined songs, or choose individual songs to comprise a new setlist. During a rehearsal, the player attempts to meet or exceed a required point threshold that indicates that the song has been sufficiently rehearsed.
After all songs have been rehearsed, the player has the option to perform all of the songs at once in the gig's venue, akin to a live performance. Scoring highly on the songs in the gig can trigger an Encore of another song that the player may or may not have played yet, with the potential of triggering an additional Double Encore if the player continues to play well.
The Guitarcade is a series of mini-games tailored towards exercising individual concepts for guitar playing. These mini-games include:
- Ducks - The player shoots ducks by playing their relevant fret on a single string. This is meant to teach fret placement and transitioning.
- Super Ducks - Like Ducks, but employs all six strings.
- Scale Runner - The player runs through a series of notes within a scale, with points allotted for speed and accuracy. The player may choose their scale and key prior to playing.
- Quick Pick Dash - The player runs along a course by rapidly picking individual strings. The player avoids obstacles by following on-screen prompts to change between strings.
- Big Swing Baseball - The player is given a note to find and play within a short period of time. They then round bases on a baseball field based on the accuracy and timing of hitting the note.
- Super Slider - The player positions falling blocks by performing slides. Gameplay is similar to Dr. Mario or Lumines in that the player wishes to connect regions of similarly colored blocks to score points.
- Dawn of the Chordead - The player is presented with a chord name and form, then required to find and play it within a certain time frame. Success is indicated by shooting a screen full of zombies that appear when the chord is announced.
- Harmonically Challenged - The player must play a series of pick harmonics in a Simon-like fashion in an attempt to defuse a bomb.
Amp Mode allows players to freely play their guitar while using the game as an amplifier. A player's tone can be modified by including effects pedals and different amplifiers in an effect chain, each effect being similar to its real-life counterpart. Over 70 pedals and amplifiers can be unlocked through gameplay. In addition, scoring 70,000 points or more on a song will unlock the tone used in that song, which can then be used in Amp Mode.
Individual lessons for general guitar techniques are provided to teach the player through song challenges. After walking the player through a technique (such as bends, slides, or barre chords), the game presents a unique song that heavily employs the technique. The player's performance in this song is scored and a rank is assigned between bronze, silver and gold.
In addition to technique lessons, many lessons about guitar management and treatment are available. This includes videos on how to tune the guitar, how to replace strings, and more.
|House of the Rising Sun||The Animals|
|When I'm With You||Best Coast|
|I Got Mine||The Black Keys|
|Next Girl||The Black Keys|
|Step Out of the Car||Boxer Rebellion|
|Sunshine of Your Love||Cream|
|We Share the Same Skies||The Cribs|
|Boys Don't Cry||The Cure|
|I Want Some More||Dan Auerbach|
|Rebel Rebel||David Bowie|
|I Can't Hear You||The Dead Weather|
|Run Back to Your Side||Eric Clapton|
|Take Me Out||Franz Ferdinand|
|Do You Remember||The Horrors|
|I Miss You||Incubus|
|Well OK Honey||Jenny O|
|Use Somebody||Kings of Leon|
|Are You Gonna Go My Way||Lenny Kravitz|
|Surf Hell||Little Barrie|
|Free Bird (pre-order DLC)||Lynyrd Skynyrd|
|Sweet Home Alabama||Lynyrd Skynyrd|
|Plug In Baby||Muse|
|Where is My Mind?||The Pixies|
|Go With the Flow||Queens of the Stone Age|
|Bodysnatchers (pre-order DLC)||Radiohead|
|High and Dry||Radiohead|
|Number Thirteen||Red Fang|
|Higher Ground||Red Hot Chili Peppers|
|(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction||The Rolling Stones|
|Play With Fire||The Rolling Stones|
|The Spider and the Fly||The Rolling Stones|
|Panic Switch||Silversun Pickups|
|Me and the Bean||Spoon|
|Between the Lines||Stone Temple Pilots|
|Vasoline||Stone Temple Pilots|
|Under Cover of Darkness||The Strokes|
|Mean Bitch||Taddy Porter|
|A More Perfect Union||Titus Andronicus|
|Good Enough||Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers|
|Icky Thump||The White Stripes|
|Chimney||Yellow Moon Band|
Rocksmith has had a steady roll out of DLC since its launch, releasing new 3-packs of songs every few weeks. All songs are available individually for $2.99 on PSN and 240 Microsoft Points on Xbox Live Marketplace, or as a three song bundle for $7.99 on PSN and 640 Microsoft Points on Xbox Live Marketplace.
|Free Bird||Lynyrd Skynyrd||Rock Hits 1|
|Bodysnatchers||Radiohead||Rock Hits 1|
|Tighten Up||The Black Keys||Rock Hits 1|
|Smoke on the Water||Deep Purple||Rock Hits 70s|
|More than a Feeling||Boston||Rock Hits 70s|
|Jessica||The Allman Brothers Band||Rock Hits 70s|
|Cousins||Vampire Weekend||Rock Hits 2|
|20th Century Boy||T. Rex||Rock Hits 2|
|I Hate Everything About You||Three Days Grace||Rock Hits 2|
|Symphony of Destruction||Megadeth||Megadeth Song Pack|
|Hangar 18||Megadeth||Megadeth Song Pack|
|Public Enemy No. 1||Megadeth||Megadeth Song Pack|
|Carol of the Bells||Seth Chapla||Holiday Song Pack (free)|
|God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen||Brian Adam McCune||Holiday Song Pack (free)|
|We Three Kings||Versus Them||Holiday Song Pack (free)|
|Just Got To Be||The Black Keys||The Black Keys Song Pack|
|Mind Eraser||The Black Keys||The Black Keys Song Pack|
|Gold on the Ceiling||The Black Keys||The Black Keys Song Pack|
|(Don't Fear) The Reaper||Blue Oyster Cult||Rock Hits 60s-70s|
|Space Oddity||David Bowie||Rock Hits 60s-70s|
|Barracuda||Heart||Rock Hits 60s-70s|
|Jeremy||Pearl Jam||Pearl Jam Song Pack|
|Black||Pearl Jam||Pearl Jam Song Pack|
|Dammit||Blink-182||Blink-182 Song Pack|
|All the Small Things||Blink-182||Blink-182 Song Pack|
|What's My Age Again?||Blink-182||Blink-182 Song Pack|
|Kryptonite||3 Doors Down||3 Doors Down Song Pack|
|Loser||3 Doors Down||3 Doors Down Song Pack|
|When I'm Gone||3 Doors Down||3 Doors Down Song Pack|
|The Thrill is Gone||B. B. King||Blues Hits|
|Born Under a Bad Sign||Albert King w/ Stevie Ray Vaughn||Blues Hits|
|Soul Man||The Blues Brothers||Blues Hits|
|Bring Me to Life||Evanescence||Rock Hits 3|
|Pumped Up Kicks||Foster the People||Rock Hits 3|
|This Love||Maroon 5||Rock Hits 3|
|Breaking the Law||Judas Priest||Judas Priest Song Pack|
|Living After Midnight||Judas Priest||Judas Priest Song Pack|
|Painkiller||Judas Priest||Judas Priest Song Pack|
|Roxanne||The Police||The Police Song Pack|
|Message in a Bottle||The Police||The Police Song Pack|
|Synchronicity II||The Police||The Police Song Pack|
|Gone Away||The Offspring||The Offspring Song Pack|
|Come Out and Play (Keep 'Em Separated)||The Offspring||The Offspring Song Pack|
|Self Esteem||The Offspring||The Offspring Song Pack|
|Planetary (GO!)||My Chemical Romance||My Chemical Romance Song Pack|
|Welcome to the Black Parade||My Chemical Romance||My Chemical Romance Song Pack|
|Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)||My Chemical Romance||My Chemical Romance Song Pack|
|Tom Sawyer||Rush||Rush Song Pack|
|Limelight||Rush||Rush Song Pack|
|Red Barchetta||Rush||Rush Song Pack|
|Subdivisions||Rush||Rush Song Pack|
|YYZ||Rush||Rush Song Pack|
|Super Freak||Rick James||N/A|
|Give Up The Funk (Tear the Roof off Sucker)||Parliament||N/A|
|Cowboys From Hell||Pantera||Pantera Song Pack|
|Domination||Pantera||Pantera Song Pack|
|Walk||Pantera||Pantera Song Pack|
|Bottoms Up||Nickelback||Nickelback Song Pack|
|How You Remind Me||Nickelback||Nickelback Song Pack|
|Rockstar||Nickelback||Nickelback Song Pack|
|Wheels||Foo Fighters||Foo Fighters Song Pack|
|Walk||Foo Fighters||Foo Fighters Song Pack|
|Times Like These||Foo Fighters||Foo Fighters Song Pack|
|Best of You||Foo Fighters||Foo Fighters Song Pack|
|My Hero||Foo Fighters||Foo Fighters Song Pack|
|Smooth||Santana Feat Rob Thomas||Santana Song Pack|
|Black Magic Woman||Santana||Santana Song Pack|
|Oye Como Va||Santana||Santana Song Pack|
|No Rain||Blind Melon||N/A|
|Cliffs of Dover||Eric Johnson||N/A|
|Last Nite||The Strokes||The Strokes Song Pack|
|Reptilia||The Strokes||The Strokes Song Pack|
|Juicebox||The Strokes||The Strokes Song Pack|
|Born To Be Wild||Steppenwolf||N/A|
|American Woman||The Guess Who||N/A|
|Dance, Dance||Fall Out Boy||Fall Out Boy Song Pack|
|Sugar, We're Going Down||Fall Out Boy||Fall Out Boy Song Pack|
|I Don't Care||Fall Out Boy||Fall Out Boy Song Pack|
|America's Suitehearts||Fall Out Boy||Fall Out Boy Song Pack|
|Thnks Fr Th Mmrs||Fall Out Boy||Fall Out Boy Song Pack|
|Should I Stay or Should I Go|
|The Clash Song Pack|
The Clash Song Pack
|Guns of Brixton|
The Clash Song Pack
|Carry On Wayward Son|
|You've Got Another Thing Comin'||Judas Priest||N/A|
|Black Betty||Ram Jam||N/A|
|Anna Molly||Incubus||Incubus Song Pack|
|Love Hurts||Incubus||Incubus Song Pack|
Wish You Were Here
Incubus Song Pack
Burnin' For You
|Blue Oyster Cult|
Rock Hits 80s 2 + Blue Oyster Cult Pack
|Blister in the Sun||Violent Femmes||Rock Hits 80s 2|
|Cult of Personality||Living Colour||Rock Hits 80s 2|
|Love Song||The Cure||The Cure Song Pack|
|Just Like Heaven||The Cure||The Cure Song Pack|
|The End of the World||The Cure||The Cure Song Pack|
Other Downloadable Content
|Tone Designer Time Saver||All standard pedals||Tone Designer Time Saver Pack||400 ms points/$5 on PSN and Steam||October 18th, 2011|
|SicSicSicS||Distortion pedal||Heavy Metal - Gear Pack||400 ms points/$5 on PSN and Steam (as part of Heavy Metal - Gear Pack)||February 28th, 2012|
|Caverb||Delay pedal||Heavy Metal - Gear Pack||400 ms points/$5 on PSN and Steam (as part of Heavy Metal - Gear Pack||February 28th, 2012|
|Scooped||Filter pedal||Heavy Metal - Gear Pack||400 ms points/$5 on PSN and Steam (as part of Heavy Metal - Gear Pack||February 28th, 2012|
|RSMP-12||High-Gain Amp||Heavy Metal - Gear Pack||400 ms points/$5 on PSN and Steam (as part of Heavy Metal - Gear pack||February 28th, 2012|
|RSMP-12 4x12||Cabinet amp||Heavy Metal - Gear Pack||400 ms points/$5 on PSN and Steam (as part of Heavy Metal - Gear pack)||February 28th, 2012|
Although Rocksmith's technology is impressive and unique, the actual content of the game was panned by some critics. According to some critics, Rocksmith's educational aspects are downplayed due to the adaptive difficulty level, which they felt posed a constant uphill challenge. Additionally, Rocksmith was criticized for relying on the game's electronic tuning system, instead of teaching players how to tune by ear or other methods. Finally, some critics disliked the bland presentation of the game, which never shows any of the player's fictional band, instead lingering on the audience.
Other critics, however, were impressed by the accuracy of the game, and found that by ignoring the lack of any real tuning advice, Rocksmith could still be used as an effective learning tool. The game is good at teaching songs slowly, while the competition splits songs up by difficulty.
Despite positive user reviews averaging 8.2 on a 10 point scale, Rocksmith currently sits at a 77 average on Metacritic. (360 version)
PC System Requirements
- OS: Windows Vista, Windows 7
- Processor: 2.0 GHz Intel® Core™2 Duo E4400 or 2.0 GHz AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 3800+
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: 256 MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600 GT or AMD Radeon™ HD 2600 XT
- DirectX®: 9.0
- Hard Drive: 12 GB HD space
- Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compliant
- OS: Windows Vista, Windows 7
- Processor: 2.6 GHz Intel® Core™2 Duo E6750 or 3.0GHz AMD Athlon™ 64 X2 6000+
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: 512 MB NVIDIA® GeForce® 200-series or AMD Radeon™ HD 3000-series
- DirectX®: 9.0
- Hard Drive: 12 GB HD space
- Sound: DirectX 9.0c-compliant