Rocksmith: No Plastic Allowed

March 31st, 2011 -

The wake of Guitar Hero’s death has left developers like Harmonix (Rock Band) looking to other genres for game development. You might think that the music genre is at its end; hell, you might even want it to end. The folks over at Ubisoft, however, have other plans. Ubisoft see’s this as an opportunity – an opportunity to take the genre in a different direction and expand its horizons. Well, honestly, they are probably seeing an opportunity to make a quick buck in a market that just fell apart, but that aside, someone at Ubisoft clearly plays guitar and cares about music.

You might remember Ubisoft from such popular music games as, Just Dance, Just Dance 2, Just Dance: Kids, Just Dance: Michael Jackson and Just Dance: On Broadway. After reaching Guitar Hero success in over saturation of a game type with dancing games, Ubisoft has finally turned its attention to the guitar. Too little, too late you say? Well, not likely as, this ain’t yo’ grandma’s Guitar Hero. Actually, if anything, it’s an odd mix of Harmonix’ wanting to teach us real music, and Power GIG’s failed attempt to give us a real guitar. Chances are that if you have any interest in playing a video game that uses a real guitar as a controller, you probably already have a real guitar. If you own a guitar, then you are clearly poor, as all good musicians are. So you didn’t want to spend $200 on a guitar/game controller that doubles as a piece of shit k-mart guitar.

Nope, what you want is a game that uses one of your existing guitars that are collecting dust, because you told yourself that learning the guitar is the easiest way to pick up chicks. Previously, you could do this with certain PC software, that boarder line asked “if you can do this, why aren’t you just out there playing for real dumb ass?” Rocksmith plans on smashing that statement right in the face with a Les Paul. What makes Rocksmith different is its approach to the genre; its not a Guitar Hero like game for wannabe Tetris rock stars, and its not some cheep “learn guitar on DVD!” DVD. Its a new way to exercise your existing talents, and a way to teach you how to harness your hidden talent.

Think of it as Math Blaster for music, only instead of constantly forcing you to learn math, it allows you to turn the math off once and a while and just blast the fuck out of shit. Also, its worth noting that this isn’t Ubisofts first venture into the “interactive guitar simulator/trainer/jamming” game genre. The company put out a game for the Nintendo DS a couple years back called Jam Sessions. Jam Sessions allowed you to actually play guitar on your DS and compose your own songs using the game’s massive list of pre-recorded chords. Check out this guy from Ubisoft awkwardly telling us about it, and then for fun, let’s watch some dude play his DS with an actual band.

So how does Rocksmith change the game? Allowing you to plug any guitar directly into your PS3 or 360 eliminates cumbersome dedicated peripherals that are currently piled up in your front room. It also helps keep the price down. Even though Ubisoft hasn’t talked price yet, its pretty obvious that this game will be in the $59 neighborhood since it doesn’t require anything other then the game itself (and your guitar). Sure, there might be a special edition bundle with a squire strat, or something like that, but that’s besides the point. How this differentiates itself from the currently available PC software is through its ease of use, and a streamlined package not currently available on home consoles. Not everyone is computer savvy, but a lot of people own home game consoles and know how to put in a disc and press start. This bundled with Ubisoft’s marketing team looks to take this “home brew” genre to the mainstream, which is hopefully a good thing.

For me (as a guitarist), one of the biggest features that sounds attractive is the “Amp Mode” which turns your 360/PS3 and TV into a virtual guitar amp. How well this actually works is yet to be seen, but the idea that I don’t need a practice amp in my apartment sounds promising and almost worth the $60 by itself. I know Harmonix has always pushed for their games to teach you music, and I think I know they have had success with the drums. I can testify that playing Rock Band for a couple of years now, I have learned enough to sit at a real drum kit and hammer out basic beats. It seems as though Ubisoft has either beat them to the punch with the guitar, or has taken the torch on the quest to make every couch potato an actual rock star.

In any case, I am very excited to hear more details about this game and understand how the rest of the features work. When I finally get my hands on this, I’ll be sure to do a follow up on Ubisoft’s Rocksmith.

  • Don’t break fist full of potions, or I’ll breaka yo face!

    Comment by Capn' Swirly Balls on April 1, 2011

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