Think music games are dead? Well, the guys at Ubisoft just won’t let it die, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Maybe the problem isn’t that music games are flooding the market, but that innovation-less music games are flooding the market. For better or worse, Ubisoft is taking a stab at the genre with Rocksmith.
What sets Rocksmith apart from other music games is that any real guitar can be the instrument. Others have tried this, but latency has been an issue. Ubisoft feels as though they’ve overcome this obstacle, but it may just be that they fine-tuned the process. During my playthrough, I found that the more stacatto my notes were (short), the more latency was noticable. However, notes that were mere fluid and legato registered much better with the game.
Rocksmith has notes coming at you like Rock Band, but with multiple strings, they’ve decided to identify each string with a color. Playing at first with multiple strings can be extremely overwhelming — even for veteran guitar players like myself — but with practice comes association.
Rocksmith takes the load off a bit by making the game scale to the player’s skill as the song progesses. The more the player does correctly, the more notes they as presented with to play. Conversely, doing poorly forces the game to ask less of the player by displaying less notes. When I started doing well, I felt like the game was going to scale-up the difficulty, but it took a bit of time.
I didn’t know the songs I played too well, but the ones I saw on the tracklist looked really good. Unfortunately, the songs I wanted to play most weren’t ready yet, but expect to see some fantastic music — possibly even better than the tracklisting for Rockband 3 (or at least in my opinion).
What also sets the game apart from others is the post-processing effects. As stated by the team, “pedals are expensive”. In Rocksmith, there are tons of modeling pedals, amps and more. Really, the limit to the sounds the player could create in Rocksmith is likely far more boundless than what most guitar players can reasonably afford. Though, the game also does its best to recreate tons from songs as they are in studio recordings as well.
Again, it’s really hard to say how it’s going to play at this point, as it’s quite clear that it’s still in the development cycle. Not too many songs are finished, and many things really need some tweaking. If anything, this demo was far more a tech demo than something that is supposed to represent the final build. With that in mind, though, the game does show a lot of promise for both musicians that want to learn songs interactively and have tangible scores, and players who want to learn guitar from zero to hero.