Better than Guitar Hero? How Rocksmith measures up

I owe the recent discovery of this gem to fellow musician and teacher Corey Taylor, who mentioned this to me the other day:

“Introducing the next stage in the evolution of the music game. Rocksmith, the first and only game where you can plug into any real guitar. Featuring gameplay that automatically adjusts to your personal ability and innovative game design that makes playing music visually intuitive, Rocksmith will engage experienced musicians as well as those who have never picked up a guitar in their life.”

Rocksmith is available for Xbox 360, PS3 and – once released in October 2012 – on your PC. An electric guitar is needed, no matter the brand, size or shape — as long as it works! The game comes with a special connector cable that will adapt to any working six-string guitar.

The game holds a large catalogue of songs in a few different styles, mostly rock and alternative genres. Some classic rock staples like Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love, Lynyrd Skynyrd ‘s Sweet Home Alabama and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by the Rolling Stones. Also note some good 90s and more recent tunes in the mix: High And Dry by Radiohead, Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz and Kings of Leon’s Use Somebody.

The benefit of using a real guitar is quite the deal breaker; that feature alone places Rocksmith in a different league altogether, leaving the plastic buttons of Guitar Hero or Rock Band feeling like the easy-bake oven of music video games.

Nothing is perfect, however, so keep in mind the following hiccups some critics have found while playing Rocksmith, before you hit the ground running to the stores (or

1. Delays

It’s been noted that Rocksmith‘s connectivity has produced some lag time between playing the notes and hearing/seeing them on screen; a distraction for any guitar player or learner. Fortunately, there may be a simple solution for this: Connect your XBOX or PS3 to a stereo for audio output, via your console’s Audio Adaptor Cable, and then use an HDMI cable for video. Without this set up, players won’t be able to enjoy the responsiveness of playing a real guitar.

2. Difficulty levels

The game features a ‘dynamic difficulty’ for each song; as you play, the game keeps track of on how well you do, and adjusts the difficulty as you go. For beginners, this is very useful. However, more advanced players could find this feature frustrating if they crave more control. Here’s why: you can’t tell the game how you’d like to play, so it risks making it feel like you’re never getting anywhere. Unlike Guitar Hero, where you can select to play any song on Easy, Medium or Hard, Rocksmith juggles between difficulties as the song plays. Some players could end up not being challenged enough, while others may dislike the lack of control and selectivity.

3. Unlocking goodies

Like Guitar Hero, Rocksmith keeps much of its content under wraps when you first begin to play, and once you master a song, certain goodies will be available. Some players, especially those intermediate to advanced, may find it frustrating not having all the goodies and tricks at their disposal right from the start. Beginners may risk losing motivation if they don’t move along at a steady pace, and become bored when nothing new comes along.

For the guitar student, the full benefits of Rocksmith can only be achieved with the help of a real teacher who will be able to carefully adapt to their learning style and show proper technique along the way. Overall, it’s difficult for Rocksmith to find the perfect balance between video game and instructional device on its own. Combined with a teacher’s knowledge and own experience, however, it makes a great tool for any student wishing to expand their guitar repertoire.

And finally, where to get it:

Pre-Order for PC:

Order for XBOX 360:

Order for PS3: