Rocksmith 2014 Review - The Guitar Hero Slayer is back

Date: 2013-11-15 13:08:00
The review was based on the PC version.

The first Rocksmith was in many respects a highly experimental creation, and initially no one - with Ubisoft at the helm - believed that the place after the typical party Guitar Hero and Rockband could be replaced by a production that is primarily to teach, and only then to have fun. It is not without reason that the European premiere of the game came only a year after the trial debut in North America - in case the entire project turned out to be a financial flop, the publisher risked much less, starting distribution from just one, in addition, a key market. It seems, however, that in the end Rocksmith has caught on not only overseas, but also the rest of the world, because in the case of the latest edition of the series, there were no such delays. I will say more - everything indicates that we have another tapeworm , because this time a very eloquent number 2014 was added to the title and it is begging to be changed every year.

The use of this type of marking - apart from the fact that it evokes (not necessarily positive) associations with sports games and numerous farm and pavement simulators - has a second bottom. 2014 not only does not scare newbies as the "two" would do, but also openly admits that no revolutionary innovations in relation to the original should be expected here. However, I note in advance that this does not have to be seen as a disadvantage, because most of the elements of the first Rocksmith were the most successful and any radical modification of the formula could only hurt here. At the same time, all improvements, although largely cosmetic and rather unnoticeable for a person who is not a guitar fan, are really numerous and have a huge impact on the final reception of this type of production.

First of all, Rocksmith no longer assumes that every player can start with the same amount, which is nothing . Apparently, Ubisoft has finally realized that the concept of a music game using a real guitar is interesting not only for laymen, but also for more experienced musicians. For this reason, at the beginning we are asked about our level of advancement in playing a given instrument and knowledge of the previous installment of the series. There are no longer absurd situations in which veterans are forced into passionate instructional videos about putting on a guitar strap or the technique of hitting the strings with an ankle. This does not mean, of course, that by overstating our skills, we will cut off access to basic lessons - although Rocksmith will not propose them on its own, everyone can reach for them at any time.

After going through the entire introduction, I had another pleasant surprise - the overconfigured and uncomfortable interface from the "one" was replaced with a classic menu, which should not be difficult for anyone. After quickly reviewing the content of this year's edition, I also noticed another significant change that I had already embraced with a little less enthusiasm, namely the lack of the Journey mode or any equivalent. I must admit that a year ago I strongly complained about the repetitiveness and general blandness of this whole "Journey" (the pattern "learn 3-4 songs and then play them at a concert" rolled up to the limit was not too revealing), but the ruthless dismissal of this mode the trash can hardly be considered the optimal solution.

This time the whole game is driven by missions, which were called a bit exaggerated. These are simply short tasks such as "play a new song" or "read the chord lesson", which do not pose any challenge and are only intended to encourage the player to gradually become familiar with the individual components of this year's edition. This system actually works well as a guide to the game, but if someone was counting on something like a full-fledged campaign, they will be severely disappointed. Checking off subsequent tasks is not overly exciting, and the only motivation here are such fancy rewards as skins for our virtual amplifiers, stickers on the fingerboard or the opportunity to unlock another achievement.

As in the first edition, learning more pieces is made more enjoyable by the dynamically changing level of difficulty. Usually, we start with single notes, then after a certain number of repetitions of a given fragment we start adding more, and finally we put together the whole riff in this way. It looks great on paper, and in practice it works differently - sometimes it actually gives good results and makes learning a given fragment easier, but sometimes the result is opposite to the intended one and only complicates the matter. It is difficult to predict which fingering will allow you to add subsequent notes without any problems, and in addition , it sometimes happens that an incomplete riff has a bizarre rhythm and it is more difficult to try to repeat it than to play all the notes right away.

In this respect, Rocksmith 2014 essentially duplicates the mistakes of its predecessor. However, I will not hang dogs on the creators, because they have equipped us with a tool thanks to which you can easily skip the occasional quirks caused by the dynamic level of difficulty. It is about the Riff Repeater, which already appeared in the original, but has now been significantly improved. First of all, it can also be activated while playing a given song, so if you prefer to learn the riffs in full at once, you can set the maximum difficulty level in a few seconds and reveal all sounds in this way. It's best to just focus on one fragment and work it out completely - whether by changing its pace and complexity manually, or by relying on the machines that work surprisingly well here. Anyway, everything is configurable (for example, nothing prevents you from playing the riff in its entirety at once, but leaving the acceleration to the computer), so everyone should develop a model of song learning that suits them.

After the session with a given piece is over, Rocksmith calculates the percentage of its mastery and the effectiveness of the game, and then - depending on the progress made - suggests a set of three side missions, the completion of which should help in the struggle with this piece. It may just be a repetition of a troublesome section, but if the program detects that the problem is with a particular technique, it will ask you to complete the relevant lesson or run one of the mini-games. In both cases, you can see a clear progress in relation to the first installment of the cycle - there are more issues and they touch upon every important issue, and the mini-games started to be quite interesting as such, not only in the context of practicing guitar technique. How about, for example, the old school beat'em up, in which we move around the board, playing the appropriate notes from a given scale?

After practicing a piece, it is worth launching the Score Attack mode, in which each approach is scored and compared with the achievements of players from around the world. Importantly, there is a division into levels of difficulty here, thanks to which laymen, who still play cut versions of songs, are not thrown into one bag with scavengers who know all the riffs by heart. However, if someone doesn't care about breaking new records, they'll probably like the stress-free Nonstop Play mode, which simply performs a series of songs from a playlist generated by Rocksmith for a set period of time. This one - of course - can be edited, so luckily no one here is forcing anyone to play Nirvana . It is worth noting that this year we are no longer limited to broadly understood rock , because this time there is also room for, for example, Iron Maiden and Slayer . It may not be exactly what metal fans (who probably constitute the majority of the actual Rocksmith audience) were hoping for, but it still looks a lot better than before.

In theory, Rocksmith addresses these problems by creating accompaniment that dynamically adapts to what the player is doing at the moment. In part, it is actually so, although you should not expect miracles - it does not look like we play whatever our heart desires, and the program generates a perfectly matched background during the flight. First, we have to set, for example, the type of scale and tempo, not to mention the type of virtual instruments that will accompany us, and only on the basis of this information the accompaniment is created. The whole trick, however, is that Rocksmith constantly listens to how thick and energetic we play, and constantly adjusts the amount and type of sounds made by digital musicians.