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Rocksmith 2014 (PS3) Review


At A Glance...

Formats: PC, PS3 (reviewed), Xbox 360
Genre: ,
Final Score
9/ 10

User Rating
no ratings yet


We liked?

  • Slick and greatly improved interface
  • Plethora of lessons to suit all tastes and needs
  • Encourages you all the way
  • Updated Riff Repeater

Not so much?

  • Audio sync issues for those not using separate sound and video
  • Difficulty curve in some songs is tremendous and uneven

Final Fiendish Findings?

If you’re a veteran performer than you might well struggle to conform to Rocksmith 2014′s method of doing things – that’s not the software’s fault though as it does what it can to accommodate. If you’re starting out or are still struggling your way though then I can heartily recommend checking it out. I wish I’d had access to Rocksmith 2014 5 years ago when I first started out!

Posted October 30, 2013 by

Full Fiendish Findings...

Rocksmith 2014 hopes to improve upon the previous outings efforts as both a piece of entertainment software and a valid means of guitar tuition.

The original Rocksmith was a massive proof of concept for the team at Ubisoft and the fact it turned out as well as it did – a solid enough game and a reasonable tutor – was testament to their hard work and determination in this area.

But what now?  Now that the gaming world seems to have firmly moved on from rhythm games and sent their plastic instruments to the land-fill and recycling centres – does Rocksmith still have a place and an audience?

Rocksmith 2014, like its predecessor, aims to teach you a real world guitar.  It hopes to do this in the most entertaining and accessible way as possible via the use of visual aids, video clips, tutorials and mini-games.

Anyone familiar with the Guitar Hero and Rockband games will recognise the note runway instantly.  As coloured blocks approach the end of the run way you must hit the correct combination to strike the required note.  With Guitar Hero and Rockband you just depressed your plastic button and flipped the strum bar.  With Rocksmith you copy the placement of the colour block to the neck of the guitar, depressing the same fret locations as shown by the placement.  You then strum the string, or strings denoted by the coloured strings on screen.  It sounds simple, and for the initial lessons and songs it sorta is.  Once the lessons progress and more sequences are needed then it can become incredibly hard – more on that difficulty curve later.

rocksmith 2014 screen2

So far this is all the same ground as last year’s outing for Rocksmith.  What does the 2014 version bring us, apart from a new (and MUCH improved)  song list?

Well the major overhaul appears to be in the accessibility and presentation of the games many parts.  In the original Rocksmith the interface was workman like at best.  Many aspects appearing clunky and off putting.  It got the job done – but only just.  Rocksmith 2014 addresses all of these accessibility issues providing a smooth and intuitive interface for the product.  The central menu system now allows easy access to all the game functionality.  Jumping off in to the Riff Repeater or playing a mini-game from the Guitarcade is super simple to arrange.

Lessons appear to be much more in depth this time around.  Breaking things down in to the smallest detail.  Some with previous experience might find the initial lessons far too basic to even watch – for example one part covers how to hold the pick and another how to attach the strap!  That said the modular nature of the lessons allows you to pick and choose which ones you wish to undertake – the only caveat is that some will ask that you’ve completed previous or gateway topics prior to starting.  Each lesson is multi-tiered as well.  Complete the first run through and then go back multiple times as the lesson slowly ups the difficulty on the practical sections.

One of the largest complaints I had about last year’s version was that difficulty was all over the shop.  Rocksmith 2014 still has this issue, but it’s been mitigated slightly by more careful note picking and the very much improved Riff Repeater function.  Rocksmith 2014 will slowly make a track more and more difficult as it predicts the level you’re playing at.  For instance playing the first couple of run throughs of a track will keep the number of notes and transitions to a minimal level.  Then suddenly the game will introduce more notes and more positions to help progress your playing.  This works well in some songs but can become a frustrating mess in others as the difficulty curve is all over the place.

rocksmith 2014 screen1

These note heavy sequences are punishing and with the original Rocksmith you soon became disgruntled and gave up on the song – in extreme cases you just gave up entirely.  The improved Riff Repeater in Rocksmith 2014 goes some way to combating this issue.  Allowing you to repeatedly drill the same sequence over and over to get the sequence down is a huge help.  The fact it will break the sequence down and then slowly up the difficulty as you improve is also a nice touch.  But what I found the most help was being able to bring up the customisation menu and slow things down as and when I needed to.  This helped me to pick up sequences that would have been pure frustration last time around.

Rocksmith 2014 seems to have found comfort in knowing its place this time around.  It’s a guitar tuition product first and a game second.  The Guitarcade section is the most gamey of all parts allowing you to pick up a few extra skills via some competent and amusing 8-bit style mini games.  Nothing is locked away behind arbitrary score levels or progression hurdles.  This is exactly how things should be in a title that is more about choice and learning than it is about scores and arcade spectacle.

Rocksmith 2014 does suffer from a few issues, one of which is a major hold-over from the first title – audio lag.  Now I play Rocksmith 2014 in two different configurations.  In the living room I have the HDMI picture to the TV and the sound through my 5.1 amp and all is fine.  In the bedroom I have the HDMI to the TV for picture and the 5.1 through a Turtle Beach DSS unit to my headphones, once again this works just fine.  I experienced little lag – although I did get some nasty buzz and feedback through my headphone setup.

Put the sound and vision back through a single source/cable though and you run in to a world of problems.  Audio sync can be erratic for the most part with Rocksmith 2014 straying towards frustratingly unmanageable at its most extreme.  If you’re using the game with a single HDMI to your TV and relying on the TV speakers then you could be in for a real problem.  Switch that over to headphones though and you might find things more manageable.

rocksmith 2014 screen3

Final Thoughts

As someone who has dabbled with the guitar for years now I found Rocksmith 2014 to be a delight.  It positively reinforces your efforts every step of the way.   It might miss the more natural elements of a human guitar teacher, someone who could pick up on nuances and offer some practical advice, but it certainly does the job very well indeed whilst costing a fraction of the price!

The technical issues, once again, hold Rocksmith 2014 back from being problem free which is a shame.  It certainly seems an improvement over last times but the issue still remains.  A complete chord sheet would also be nice.

The song-list offers a little something for everyone and the improved Riff Repeater is an invaluable tool for learning those tricky sequences and transitions.

It’s the sheer depth and encouragement that the lessons offer that impresses me most.  It’s taught me more in the few hours I’ve been with it than I’ve learned from other means over the past four or five years – this includes using the original Rocksmith!

If you’re a veteran performer than you might well struggle to conform to Rocksmith 2014′s method of doing things – that’s not the software’s fault though as it does what it can to accommodate.  If you’re starting out or are still struggling your way though then I can heartily recommend checking it out.  I wish I’d had access to Rocksmith 2014 5 years ago when I first started out!



Zeth is our EU ninja and Editor in Chief. He's been writing about video games since 2008 when he started on BrutalGamer. He's pretty old and has been a gamer since he played Space Invaders as a young boy in the 80's. His genre tastes lean towards platformers, point-and-click adventure, action-adventure and shooters but he'll turn his hand to anything.