<i>Rocksmith 2014</i> Part I: It Really Works!

Rocksmith 2014 Part I: It Really Works!

We’ve all done it. We’ve all been listening to some rock or metal, some song with guitar being shredded whilst picturing ourselves being the ones standing up on stage, ripping out the guitar solo we’re listening to. I’m fairly certain a good percentage of us have bounced around whilst home alone, strumming away at an air guitar and bobbing our heads rhythmically. There will be some who have actually owned guitars, and know how to play one or two neat little riffs from a couple of their favourite songs. For the majority of us, though, playing guitar has never progressed beyond being a dream: a fanciful moment in our imaginations that never developed into a reality. Rocksmith 2014 can change that. Rocksmith 2014 will change that if you let it.

The first of this two-part article will mostly cover the background to the game, but also a little bit of personal history to better give you an idea of how Rocksmith 2014 can teach you how to play the guitar.

Originally released in October 2013 for PC and last-gen consoles, with a release on current-gen consoles November 2014, Rocksmith 2014 is the successor to the original effort, Rocksmith, released by Ubisoft way back in 2011.


Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock – Tons of fun, but you still used a plastic toy-guitar.

Rocksmith 2014 is a video game, although I’m loathe to call it such because it taps into real life skill and ability more than any other video game you’ve probably ever played. The original Rocksmith followed what had been a highly successful period for rhythm-music games, with the likes of Guitar Hero and Rock Band having dominated living rooms filled with friends for a good five or six years.

The concept and gameplay of those games were simple: wielding a plastic guitar with some buttons on the neck, your task would be to “catch” icons that came down the screen at you in accordance to the corresponding button on the plastic guitar. The result would be sections of a song being played correctly, giving the feeling of somewhat playing the guitar (ask any real guitarist, however, and they’ll probably ridicule you for saying that).

I played a lot of Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock. I enjoyed it a good deal as well and got pretty good at it. True, I had some experience playing guitar for real when I was younger but it had never been more than a fleeting habit, something I occasionally messed around with. I fell into the category of one of those guys who knew a few little riffs, a couple of chord-based songs, and that was it. Guitar Hero for me was a way of connecting to the feeling of playing music for real, and that’s also where Rocksmith comes in.


Whilst Guitar Hero and Rock Band were immensely popular for about five or six years, they were and still are simple imitations of playing guitar. You’re essentially using a plastic toy to help you pretend that you’re playing the guitar riffs from an entire song. It’s a fun imitation, but an imitation none the less.

Seeing this, Ubisoft (creators of games such as the Far Cry series and Assassins Creed) had managed to acquire technology that would allow a real guitar to be plugged into a computer via a USB cable. This cable has a nifty little device on it which can translate what is played on the guitar into a language understandable by the game. This cable, named the real tone cable, is what allowed Ubisoft to take the rhythm-music-game genre and turn it into a full blown tool for playing a real guitar along with real songs.

Having played Guitar Hero a lot, and having had experience (albeit limited) of playing guitar for real, as soon as I caught wind of there being a game that would allow you to play a real guitar instead of a little plastic toy, my mind was made up. With the release of the original Rocksmith in 2011, I picked it up with the guitar pack, which included the base game, real-tone cable, an Epiphone Les Paul Junior electric guitar and a guitar strap. Armed with those tools, I happily launched myself into Rocksmith and haven’t looked back since.

It wasn’t perfect; wasn’t the most efficient setup I’d ever seen, but it worked. I’m not going to go into much more detail about Rocksmith other than to say it did its job in being the platform needed for Rocksmith 2014 to build upon. Rocksmith 2014 is, simply put, the ultimate edition of what the original Rocksmith tried to be.

Let me rewind a little bit here into my history with the guitar. I originally received one as a birthday gift when I was 11 or 12 years old. Armed with that, a Metallica tablature book, and a love for all sorts of alternative music, I began what became a very off-on hobby in playing the guitar. One of the biggest problems for me is that I never had any real motivation to stick at it consistently. I never had much of guiding factor that kept me picking up the guitar often enough to become decent. I wasn’t in any bands, I didn’t study music so didn’t have the added motivation of needing to work on my own stuff to present in class and what have you, there simply wasn’t enough that I found pushed me into wanting to play the guitar more than I did.


The original Rocksmith from 2011 is still a really good game for what it is.

So back to more present times, almost 20 years after I had first picked up a guitar, I found myself sitting with one in my hands once again. It had been years since I’d last even held a guitar, and it felt like even longer since I’d really tried to play anything. So what did Rocksmith and then Rocksmith 2014 do for me? Someone that had always wanted to play well, who had lacked the motivation and had a very limited experience? Well, in the space of just a couple of years, I not only learned more about playing guitar than I ever had in those previous 20, but I actually became pretty good at it too. All thanks to Rocksmith and Rocksmith 2014, I stopped being the guy that knew a few cool little riffs to play on the guitar and in a short amount of time, found myself playing full songs accurately, from bands such as Green Day and Blink 182 to Oasis and the Foo Fighters. Not only has Rocksmith 2014 taught me how to play guitar again, but it’s also introduced me to new music and new artists.

According to steam, Rocksmith 2014 is my most played game (hundreds of hours). The hours I’ve put into playing it are well spent, and in part 2 of this article I’ll explain more about what Rocksmith 2014 is, and what it can do for you.

Michael Chater is an avid gamer with a passion for the more competitive side of things and a severe fear of losing. He’s also grateful for your reading of this article and would love to invite you to follow him on twitter@M_Chicky_Chater as well as the NerdGoblin facebook and twitter @thenerdgoblin pages.



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