Back in 2007, the music game genre hit a serious high point with Activision's Guitar Hero III, which sold over 1.4 million copies in just its first week of release. This led to a series of spin-offs, each one worse than the last until eventually, the franchise and the music game genre with it died out, or so it seemed. Ubisoft's 2012 hit Rocksmith now has its own franchise, one that, in my opinion, revolutionizes the music video game genre and improves on Guitar Hero in every conceivable way.
Rocksmith is both a great video game and by far one of the most fun ways to learn how to play the guitar, whether you want to play songs by some of the world's leading rock and metal bands or you want to try out techniques and use these techniques in a series of retro-style arcade games, or you want to try out some of the best musical equipment and tones and use them in the in-game studio to improvise songs and solos with a backing band, Rocksmith has an amazing amount of content to keep wannabe musicians busy for days, even months.
Rocksmith 2014 Review - Soundtrack
Let's start with the soundtrack; the original Rocksmith had a few issues in that it mostly featured radio-friendly rock and pop music and little to no metal outside of DLC. This time around, the soundtrack is about as varied as possible, featuring some of the biggest names in the music industry, such as Iron Maiden, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Green Day, KISS, Aerosmith, The Smashing Pumpkins, Muse, Queen, Def Leppard and The Rolling Stones to name but a few, not to mention DLC add-ons featuring many more tracks of the aforementioned artists.
By far, one of the most satisfying feelings of Rocksmith 2014 is the master mode; Essentially what this does is once the game has decided you've progressed far enough in a song to play on your own without help, the notes will gradually fade from the screen until you're left to play either a section of the song or the entire song on your own. In my opinion, this is a great improvement over the master mode of the original Rocksmith (which just featured the entire song with no notes) as it eases players into it more, which makes it more effective to learn. It feels amazing practicing your favorite songs and mastering them, and a few other games make me feel such a sense of accomplishment.
Rocksmith 2014 Review - Riffing
Another much-improved feature Rocksmith 2014 includes is a great overhaul of the riff repeater featured in the original game. The riff repeater allows players to adjust the difficulty and speed of segments of a particular song or the whole song if they want. This makes mastering a song a lot easier and quicker and makes learning solos of certain songs such as The Trooper by Iron Maiden, noticeably easier to handle.
One of my favorite features of the new and improved Rocksmith is Session Mode. This gives you a fully customizable backing band that plays at the same tempo you play as; this mode not only gives you complete creative control over what you play but is also great for improving lead guitar skills such as solos and helps a lot with jamming and songwriting.
Rocksmith 2014 Review - Guitarcade
Then there's the guitarcade. This essentially teaches you the fundamentals of guitar, whether it's switching frets, sliding around the frets, playing chords, and performing scales. Each mini-game is incredibly useful and entertaining in teaching you the basics and the more advanced techniques of the guitar. Not only that, but some of the arcade games are also fairly addicting trying to beat the previous high score, most noticeably Ducks Redux, a duck-shooting game that uses frets to aim at moving targets which is much more fun than it sounds.
Rocksmith 2014 Review - The Final Word
However, one downside to this game is the lack of online multiplayer. I found that the split-screen aspect was great teaming up with a bass player to perform some of the more challenging songs on the disc, but I feel as though Rocksmith 2014 would've benefitted from being able to team up with people around the world who are on a similar skill level to you.
That being said, that is the only disappointment I had with this otherwise amazing game. Featuring one of the best soundtracks out there, tonnes of different ways to practice techniques such as the Guitarcade and session mode, as well as several different Marshall amps and other tools integrated to give you a feel for what they would sound like in real life, Rocksmith 2014 is a must-have for anyone who's ever thought of picking up a guitar and music lovers in general.
This review was originally published on 11-20-2013. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions and for historical context.