It’s a brand new year. We all have our resolutions in the New Year, and new debt from buying gifts. This is the first piece I’m writing this year and I am going to write about a gift I got from my brother. Time and time again, someone asks The Tone King what his thoughts are on Rocksmith. Truth be told, he can’t give you an opinion because he has never played it, but I have. I own it, and have owned it for a full year now. Here are my thoughts on the game.
A lot of it was very left field for me, so at first crack it was slim pickings on tunes I liked. I started by trying to master “Higher Ground” from Red Hot Chili Peppers, originally written by Stevie Wonder and honestly right out of the gates, it influenced my playing style. It was also this point where I downloaded the free holiday combo because the price was right. “Carol of the Bells” was honestly the heaviest song I had for half a year. It does come with a few tunes like Soundgarden’s “Outshined”, Nirvana’s “Breed” and Blur’s “Song 2”, but I still yearn for something darker. For the time being, I would further spread my field of interest and begin to work on Rapscallions “California Brain”. Im not against rap, Im just against turn tables and synthesizers. Soon after my mastery of that tune, I started to kick myself because I found a ripping tune along the lines of what I am looking for. Little Barrie’s “Surf Hell” would be the tune that kept me interested in the game long enough for the Megadeth pack DLC to come out. Soon after that, they did come up with Lamb of God’s “Redneck” but that is about as heavy as it gets. Now I am rocking out to the Rush package. My current focus is on “Limelight” but it also contains: “YYZ”, “Tom Sawyer”, “Red Barchetta” and “Subdivisions”. I will be quite busy for a time being. Other DLC packages currently available: The Black Keys, Blink-182, Judas Priest, Offspring, My Chemical Romance, Pantera, Foo Fighters and…. Nickelback… If you’re into that kind of thing. The game also comes with a few mini-games for the sake of fun, but still aims to help you improve. You have a choice of a Tetris style game called Super Slider, a note finding Baseball game, and Ducks is a game something along the lines of Space Invaders. My favorite of those games is Dawn of the Chordead. It throws different odd chords at you with the threat of approaching cartoon style zombies. When you strum the appointed chord, a gun turret fires at the zombies and your safe for another strum, but failure to hit the correct notes, your guns accuracy goes wild.
The question normally asked is how effective it is in improving your skills. If you never picked up a guitar before, this would not serve you much justice. To fully benefit from this game you would need the minimum requirement of being able to understand tablature. Im not saying it can’t be done, but before you spend the $90, it would probably be best to noodle around on the internet for a bit. When you are much further down the road like I am, it is more about a return to basics for the first while and you have to prove to the game you know it. After playing “Free bird” for as long as I have, I have become far better at basic chords. Something I lacked for years. I have never even attempted learning guitar solos, so in turn, I never had the notion to write my own, or at least write any that truly made sense. The way I would play lead was more of a collection of tricks I would duct tape to a rhythm track. Now I make more of an effort to plan every ascension. Even rhythm wise, this game has expanded my playing style. I have been using bar chords with distortion for a while now, but it was a technique I used exclusively use for a squirrelly wah effect, so I generally do them high up on the neck. Rocksmith has exposed a weakness with lower note bar chords and it has become more of an endurance issue, but one that holds promise to influence many new tunes.
For those that play bass or want to learn, it took a while but you are not forgotten. Every song has a bass line. As I already stated, I had this game for a year, so my game does not come with the bass expansion, and I had to buy/download it separately, where if you buy a brand new disk, it will come with that built in. My first stop of course is “Limelight”.
A few of the smaller details; the guitar tuner is not great. It is not bad as a reference and it will make you tune every time you play, but I would recommend using your ear to tune. Active pickups have not really come up as an issue. It is no secret I hate batteries in my guitars but such is the case in my Ibanez bass. This has not affected the game at all. My passive Dirty Fingers humbucker in my B.C. Rich on the other hand, has too much output and the game insists I turn down my volume.
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About the Author: Started playing bass at 15. It was Danko Jones who inspired me to play at all, and in a small town I couldn't be picky on what I can get my hands on, so I bought a squire with pride. Obtained a B.C. Rich guitar months later. Moved to the city at 17. At 19 joined my first metal band as a bassist which ended at 20. Joined a bass heavy rock band, which I loved being in whole heartily. I now wait to venture into a new project. For the time being though, I am exploring my abilities as a writer.