POSTING BY JB MADDAWG
Once in a great while, a piece of pop culture steps forward and changes the trend of technology, entertainment or personal hygiene. What? You don’t remember the FloBee? Anyway, usually said item almost always turns whatever industry on its ear, people rush out and buy skids of it, and then, sadly it ends up in your neighbor’s garage sale in five years. That is why just recently Activision announced that the Guitar Hero line of video games, is in fact, deceased. Dead. No more goth girl pixel vixen in a schoolgirl outfit onscreen wailing away on a Les Paul while you, the player, try to keep up to Molly Hatchet’s “Flirtin’ With Disaster”.
Fear not, my little guitarzans. Ubisoft has stepped up to the plate to offer us all the latest in guitar/video game technology, Rocksmith. Now, this one’s a bit different from the Guitar Hero or Rockband style of gaming, in that the game is also somewhat of a learning tool, less of a stupid piece of plastic with colored buttons. As our own Johnny Rantavius once told me, “Guitar Hero is nothing but the video game version of Simon.” And yes, there will be quite a catalog of songs from artists such as David Bowie, Nirvana and Soundgarden.
The whole point of Rocksmith is, it will be played on an actual guitar. Not just some pre-packaged junk, either. Any guitar with a pickup in it will do. You’ll be able to plug-in, via a 1/4″ input cord with a port on the other end, and disco! You’re all set up. That’s the easy part. Gameplay, on the other hand, is a bit more tricky.
The game will focus on the actual notes, strings and frets of the guitar, and although there is still a “timing” mechanism in place, the whole point is to get the player to strike the true notes on the guitar, along with the song. No more hitting the green button over and over. Obviously, certain people are going to love this new style, others are going to whine like the little weasels they are and want the little plastic toy back.
The sad thing here is that this is the style of game that may truly teach people how to play the guitar, not just show off at a party. I’ve played real guitar for many years, and like other guitarists, Guitar Hero was always just another toy to me. The only gripe I really have here is that Rocksmith seems to only focus on soloing, less on rhythmic playing. Don’t get me wrong, I still go apeshit every time I hear Zakk Wylde’s solo in “No More Tears”, but rhythm shouldn’t necessarily take a back seat.
There will still be plenty of video game features involved, great music to play along with, in addition with skills to be learned. I believe if it helps someone learn to play the guitar a bit better, then fantastic. I taught myself with a bunch of ratty old Mel Bay books and various guitar magazines. There was no YouTube, online tablature and certainly nothing like this. It’s a teaching tool disguised as a game, which may prove useful to some, so give it a chance. There are several game modes that actually focus on true scales and progressions, as well as practice techniques. Any more, and you’re going to have to shell out the bucks for private lessons.
I’m not saying this thing is going to be as good as Joe Satriani sitting down and turning someone into the next king of legato phrasing, I’m just saying give it a chance. Even Slash tweeted this just recently:
“Been checking out the new gtr video game, Rocksmith. Pretty fn’ cool. Uses a real electric gtr that u actually play. Go figure.”
If Rocksmith doesn’t pan out, you can still dig that plastic Gibson Explorer out of the basement and try to look cool playing “Bulls on Parade”.
Rocksmith will be available for XBox 360 and PS3 on October 18th, and Microsoft Windows in December, retailing for around $80.00 without the guitar.
Until next time, I’m your ‘ol pal JB…Throwdown Hero.