Rocksmith, Review

How much Rock does a Rocksmith rock?

When I took a gander around our site, I realized we had yet to take a good, thorough look at one of the newest (and most realistic) musical entertainment games, so I took it upon myself to open my birthday present (Thanks, Sis!) and rock out to discover what all the hype is about. Since this game doesn’t have a Story, this will instead be replaced by The Premise vs. The Promise, meaning: does it do what it promises to do and does it do it well?NOTE: Rocksmith is rated “T” for Teen, mostly because of the Song Lyrics. I would suggest looking up the lyrics and seeing which, if any, songs you have a problem with before saying yes or no to getting this for someone in their early teens or younger. You might not have a problem with more than one or two songs at most.

The Premise:

“We all wanna be big stars, but we’ve got different reasons for that.” – Mr. Jones by Counting Crows

Rocksmith starts out by giving you step by step instructions to plug your electric guitar in, get it in tune and make sure you know how to strum. I did find this part rather tedious both because I found the sensitivity of the “volume” of how hard you’re rocking a bit lacking (don’t get discouraged, I think it’s a calibration thing) and because I’ve played guitar for a few years now, self taught so mostly just chords, but I know a lot of the basics the game teaches you when you first sit down.Rocksmith goes by the premise that you’re an amateur, just starting out and as you progress you are practicing songs until you’re good enough to play “a gig” at a music venue. Like Rock Band and Guitar Hero before it, each venue has several songs to master before you can unlock another venue and more songs. Another thing you slowly unlock is different styles of guitar, as well as different effects pedals that you can use in Free Play, which basically lets you use your Rocksmith as an amplifier without needing to play anything in particular. I did love that the very first song you play is (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones. It’s a classic, and I love it and hopefully you do too.

The Promise (Gameplay):

So, here’s the skinny on how you play. The layout is similar to Rock Band or Guitar Hero (mostly out of necessity) in that the notes come floating towards you in different colors and you need to hold down the string and strum at the right moment. Now, here’s when things get complicated, fun, frustrating and completely realistic all at the same time: Each string is a different color and they are laid out like in tablature (in case you’ve never used tab, it’s literally a set of lines and instead of being color coded, the number of the fret is listed on the line you need to hit). When you begin, the colored strings are laid out from top to bottom, the top string being the thickest and moving down to the highest noted string (which is inverted compared to tablature, but this is a setting you can change in the options menu).

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Obviously, this is a long way of saying that the strings are color-coded on the screen so that you can focus on the notes floating at you, associate them with the correct string and, using the fret numbers that always float in the background, hit the right note at the right time.

So, does the Promise live up to the Premise? Absolutely. After a few songs, I was playing “lead guitar” on several songs and for the songs I already knew and recognized, I was able to reproduce a lot of it on my acoustic guitar later on with only minor issues remembering where the notes were or which strings to play. The songs I didn’t know when I started, obviously will take longer to learn, but that’s mostly because of the way I learn music: Lyrics first. (It comes from singing more than playing, probably.)So far, the musical selection is excellent, with a lot of rock and some blues-y songs in there too. The downloadable content also looks very promising and I hope they keep adding to it just as they have for Rock Band.


I was pleased to see how detailed the graphics are. The strings are sharp and the colors easy to differentiate, which I expected. What I didn’t expect was the audience to look so realistic. You can literally look into the crowd and see the faces of the people rocking out to what you’re playing. I love that. In Guitar Hero and Rock Band, a lot of it focused on making it look like a concert or a music video, which has always been good, but Rocksmith lets you focus on the crowd you’re playing for, which helps even more to set the mood of “You’re on stage, you’re the guitar player, you’re really doing it.”


The songs included in Rocksmith are all good songs, even the ones I don’t know or readily recognize. The full list of songs that comes within the game is as follows:

The Animals – House of The Rising SunDan Auerbach – I Want Some MoreBest Coast – When I’m With YouThe Black Keys – I Got MineThe Black Keys – Next GirlBlur – Song 2The Boxer Rebellion – Step Out of The CarDavid Bowie – Rebel RebelEric Clapton – Run Back To Your SideJarvis Cocker – AngelaCream – Sunshine Of Your LoveThe Cribs – We Share The Same SkiesThe Cure – Boys Don’t CryThe Dead Weather – I Can’t Hear YouFranz Ferdinand – Take Me OutThe Horros – Do You RememberIncubus – I Miss YouInterpol – Slow HandsJenny O. – Well OK HoneyKings of Leon – Use SomebodyLenny Kravitz – Are You Gonna Go My WayLittle Barrie – Surf HellLynard Skynyrd – Sweet Home AlabamaMuse – Unnatural SelectionMuse – Plug In BabyNirvana – In BloomNirvana – BreedPixies –Where Is My Mind?Queens Of The Stone Age – Go With The FlowRadiohead – High And DryRapscallions – California BrainRed Fang – Number ThirteenThe Rolling Stones – (I Can’t Get No) SatisfactionThe Rolling Stones – The Spider And The FlyThe Rolling Stones – Play With FireSigur Ros – GobbledigookSilversun Pickups – Panic SwitchSoundgarden – OutshinedSpoon – Me And The BeanStone Temple Pilots – Between The LinesStone Temple Pilots – VasolineThe Strokes – Under Cover Of DarknessTaddy Porter – Mean BitchTitus Andronicus – A More Perfect UnionTom Petty And The Heartbreakers – Good EnoughVelvet Revolver – SlitherWhite Denim – BurnishedThe White Stripe – Sicky ThumpYellow Moon Band – Chimney

If you didn’t see at least one great song in there, you need to recheck the list or you need your eyes checked (or possibly just brush up on your music).

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This doesn’t include the downloadable content, which is around fifty songs so far, with singles as well as song packs available. These include a variety of songs from Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd or Smoke On The Water by Deep Purple, to Don’t Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult or Space Oddity by David Bowie, to Pearl Jam, Blink 182, 3 Doors Down and even some Avenged Sevenfold. I didn’t see one song on there I thought was bad, though I do admit to looking at a few and thinking “CRAP! I don’t think I’ll ever be good enough to really play THAT!” This was especially true when I saw they had songs by Avenged Sevenfold, Queen, Rush and Carlos Santana. This will, of course, not stop me from making the attempt over and over and over again.


I haven’t stopped playing Rocksmith for longer than a day yet and I think that most people who love music games, want to learn the guitar, or both, will find the same phenomenon to be true. This is the guitar trainer for those who can’t afford lessons (and a good loophole for parents to be able to get them playing the guitar when cash is too low for weekly or monthly guitar lessons). The Rocksmith pack that comes with a guitar is a little pricey for a game, though inexpensive for a guitar. If you want the best of both worlds, I suggest going to a music store, picking out a nice electric guitar for not too much money and then buying the game (the package without the guitar) instead of an amplifier or along with a much smaller amplifier for non-videogame practice. That way, you’re spending about the same, but it comes with some songs that rocker parents will love, the kids can’t randomly play without the game because they don’t have the amp (or have a much smaller amp so they can be in their rooms or outside with it without too much of a problem), and everyone is happy. Besides, the parent might wanna play some Rolling Stones too, am I right?Story (The Premise): 9 / 10Graphics: 9.5 / 10Gameplay: 10 / 10Music: 9 / 10Replayability: 9 / 10

Total Score: 9.3 / 10


5 out of 5