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How Rocksmith teaches plastic-guitar heroes actual shredding skills

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


In addition an awesome song library (Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Pixies, Spoon, frickin’ Sigur Rós even), which you’re free to plod through at will, Rocksmith includes standard fingering and chord exercises awesomely disguised as old-school video games. Find the right frets to shoot ducks, bend the right notes to hit home runs, play the right chords to kill zombies. The career mode is less customizable and engrossing than in Rock Band — no customizable avatars, unexciting crowd scenes, the aforementioned lack of failure — but that’s not really what this game is about. Master it, and you could, in theory, plug your guitar into an actual amplifier and play for real, non-pixelated people.

But can you? That’s the real question, here. Rocksmith looks great on paper, but in practice will it really teach you to play? And crucially, will you be able to play without lugging a TV and Xbox onstage with you?

After spending several hours over the course of about a week and half with Rocksmith, I’ve almost got the main riff of “Satisfaction” down — with or without the game on. This is probably about the same amount of progress I would’ve made if I’d stuck with any of those books, tapes, or computer programs for that amount of time, or even if I’d found the tablature online and taught myself to play it. Thing is, though, I wouldn’t have done any of those things. Rocksmith is the first thing this former Guitar Hero addict has found that makes learning the guitar bearable, fun even. I wish I could give you something more conclusive, but I’m currently hung up on Nirvana’s “In Bloom,” which requires you to play two strings at the same time. What is this a boss fight?

 

 

Rocksmith
$79.99
Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Microsoft Windows
Ubisoft

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