Rocksmith 2014 Edition (Video Game Review)

Ubisoft took a bold risk with the release of Rocksmith in 2011. It was rare for a video game to actually teach players how to play real musical instruments at the time, and no game had ever mastered the idea in execution to become anything more than a flop or at least be viewed as anything more than a simple-minded game. Fast forward a couple of years, and fans can't wait to get their hands on the new release of Rocksmith 2014 Edition. Ubisoft managed to turn an unsuccessful genre of video games that could actually teach players how to play guitar into a truly great franchise that longtime fans would want to pick up to learn how to play new tunes, while newcomers would want it to be taught how to play guitar for the first time ever. No matter what your reason for wanting to pick up a copy of Rocksmith 2014 Edition, you can be sure it is worth every penny.

The music and rhythm genre has been around for a long time, but Rocksmith 2014 Edition invites players to actually learn to play the instrument for the music featured in the game. The game utilizes special adapters with a standard 1/4" output cable to allow the transfer of sound to enter into the game for instant feedback to the player. Rocksmith 2014 Edition is available in bundles that include the needed adapters, or a much more expensive bundle can be purchased that also comes with an Epiphone Les Paul Electric Jr. Guitar. Players won't find any true career or story mode in Rocksmith 2014 Edition, but there are plenty of new game modes including Session, Lessons and mini-games that add a nice variety of ways to play while teaching players of any skill level a new musical instrument.

After properly hooking up your guitar, calibrating any lag from the game and performing other quick setup procedures, you're ready to jump in and learn the strings. Rather than starting in the Learn a Song quickplay mode, beginners will want to head into the Lessons section to begin learning the various techniques needed to properly play the instrument and how each of the various techniques are incorporated into the game. There are over 80 different lessons that teach guitar and bass techniques to the player complete with a plethora of videos that perfectly capture the right camera angles to help the player learn each step. It can take many, many hours to learn each of the techniques in the game, so don't fool yourself into believing you'll turn in Hendrix overnight. If you're a gamer with little patience for learning new things, you've probably bought the wrong game, but players can be ensured that they will learn with time and practice, and you'll save a lot of money purchasing Rocksmith 2014 Edition over endless hours of expensive guitar lessons.

Once you're ready to move on from Lessons, it's time to begin learning to play actual songs. Rocksmith 2014 Edition includes a feature that allows players to instantly set the difficult of the game to match their experience in playing a guitar or bass. Some players will be able to instantly jump into some songs at the hardest difficulties, but most will need to head in with lower expectations and start on the default, easy difficulty from the original release. The game cuts out some of the trickier parts of songs at lower difficulties in order to help players grow accustomed to hitting the right strings, having their fingers in the right positions and ensuring the player knows all the different techniques the game will be throwing at them. Rocksmith 2014 Edition makes learning to play guitar easier, but there's a good reason why it's a skill developed over time.

Rocksmith 2014 Edition assumes some players will already have experience with playing the guitar after the first release, so it includes some game modes that will be fun for players of more advanced playing levels. Sessions is a new game mode where players can jam with in-game band members to play custom songs based on the different instruments used and the speed at which the guitar is being played. The mode is as true of a free play mode as players will find in Rocksmith 2014 Edition, and it's a lot of fun to play along with a whole band in the game. Customization is key here, as there are over 70 different instruments to add to the band session and play along with including different types of drums, keyboards and synthesizers. Rocksmith 2014 Edition allows you to be the lead guitarist or bassist, and the band will play along the the tempo you set with the notes played, whether you're aiming for a slow ballad or a truly hectic rock session. There are also various missions built into Sessions mode that gives in-game rewards for playing along with a drummer or performing more difficult objectives.

Guitarcade is back in Rocksmith 2014 Edition to give actual games to play inside of the new video game. Players will find all sorts of games here from a duck game that tasks players with hitting the corresponding strings to match the ducks on screen to a full-fledged horror game experience where the player's guitar is the weapon used to zap the zombie hordes. Fans will recognize the latter as Return to Castle Chordead, a sequel to an arcade game included in the original Rocksmith. The new game is easily the most fun of the games, and it is the most well thought out of the collection that includes a real storyline, cutscenes and boss encounters to create a great game within the game. Guitarcade has received an overall boost in its presentation in addition to new game modes as well. Players will love the return of online leaderboards for each arcade game, but now, Rocksmith 2014 Edition looks at the position of the player on the leaderobards and how they are performing overall to give unique challenges that are always encouraging the player to improve at the game and at playing guitar.

Score Attack is another new mode that is very reminiscent of Guitar Hero and Rock Band sessions. Players will choose one of over 50 different songs included on the game's soundtrack and attempt to play the song accurately with each note and chord popping up on screen in succession. Points are awarded for hitting the correct notes and gaining note streaks. Essentially, this is the music and rhythm games fans have come to love over the years as a bonus game mode in Rocksmith 2014 Edition. The game's new soundtrack is available in Score Attack, and the soundtrack from the original Rocksmith can be imported to Rocksmith 2014 Edition for $9.99 or DLC can add even more, so there is a great variety of music for fans of all genres. The full tracklist for Rocksmith 2014 Edition can be found on the official Rocksmith website.

There doesn't seem to be a single aspect of Rocksmith 2014 Edition that hasn't been improved since the original release. The in-game menus are colorful and smooth to help users more easily naviate to their current lesson or favorite game mode and song. While the game rarely uses graphics and character design outside of the Guitarcade, there is still plenty to like about how the game looks, and it never seems to have any framerate issues or other bugs. A music game of this type had better have great sound design, and Rocksmith 2014 Edition masters this part of the game's presentation starting with the terrific Ubisoft loading screen. Rocksmith 2014 Edition is best played on Xbox 360 for players that own more than one platform, since Kinect offers the best way to navigate though menus, videos and the other content included in the game.

Rocksmith 2014 Edition doesn't really have any competition outside of traditional guitar lessons or learning from a friend or family member, but it wouldn't matter if it did. Rocksmith 2014 Edition is the definitive way to learn to play guitar, and the value proposition for purchasing the game is tremendous. The game rolls thousands of dollars of lessons into a single game purchase that can be replayed at any time, and bundles can even be purchased for players that have no experience in buying guitars. Rocksmith 2014 Edition will teach players all the bends, accents, slides, finger taps and other techniques essential for playing guitar, and it does so at a great pace that never feels frustrating or boring. Players have a variety of choice available to learn to play including quickplay modes, Sessions with AI bands, and mini-games that include fun games within the game. If you're interested in learning to play guitar, don't hesitate to pick up and play Rocksmith 2014 Edition this holiday season! Rocksmith 2014 Edition is a great game for families and can even teach young children how to learn guitar.

Rocksmith 2014 Edition is now available from all major retailers and can be purchased for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Rocksmith 2014 Edition is rated T by the ESRB for Mild Fantasy Violence & Mild Lyrics. For more information on the game, check out the official Rocksmith 2014 Edition website.

Game Features:
Offline Multiplayer 1-2
Play Real Electric Guitar
Online Leaderboards
DLC Support
Tropy/Achievement Support

Game Information:
Developer & Publisher: Ubisoft
Platforms: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 (reviewed), PC & Mac
Release Date: October 22, 2013

Score: 9 out of 10

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