Music games have hit a rough patch lately. It seemed to start when Harmonix was sold by Viacom. Then came the news that no further Rock Band Network tracks would be made available for the Wii. Potentially even more troubling is the recent word that the multi-platform, heavily hyped Rock Band 3 sold fewer copies than the Kinect-only Dance Central. We all know what happened Guitar Hero and DJ Hero, and it's probably best not to mention Power Gig: Rise of the Six String.
Given the heaps of trouble piling up on the genre, it might seem like an odd time to launch a new music game, but don't tell Ubisoft. The French mega-publisher, who has enjoyed massive sales of its Just Dance series, is ready to go all-in on music games, though in a way we've not really seen before. Get ready for your first look at Rocksmith.
The first thing to know about Rocksmith is that there are no plastic guitars to buy. None. And no, the game doesn't come bundled with one, either. Rocksmith is played with real guitars -- practically any real guitar, in fact, so long as it has a standard quarter inch jack.
Beyond that, details are relatively scarce currently. The game appears to be focused exclusively on guitar (its tagline is "Authentic Guitar Games"), and no multiplayer modes have been revealed. The game's website boasts that Rocksmith, " has amassed an amazing library of songs from different music genres," but outside the few songs revealed in the game's trailers -- "Slow Hands" by Interpol, "When I'm With You" by Best Coast, and "Chimney" by Yellow Moon Band -- no announcements have been made. The availability of DLC or retail song packs to fill out the game's playlist has also not been addressed.
In lieu of solid information, Ubisoft has released a number of videos for the game, starting with the Rocksmith announcement trailer. Take a look:
There are also a series of videos addressing the potential audience for the game. First up, the beginner:
Next, let's see what Rocksmith has to offer gamers:
Finally, a professional musician weighs in on the Rocksmith experience:
If you managed to make it through all the trailers, you'll have caught a glimpse of Rocksmith in action. At first glance, the translucent rotating "flagpoles" that populate the game's note highway look like they could be confusing to keep up with, though that judgement will be easier to make once more information has been revealed.
The lion's share of Rocksmith details are currently under wraps, no doubt to be parceled out over the next few months. While it's exciting to see Ubisoft approaching the music genre in a fresh way, a few concerns about Rocksmith seem apparent after even this cursory introduction. For starters, despite the laudable achievement of making the game compatible with practically any real guitar, the fact remains that not everyone owns one, and real guitars (decent ones, anyway) don't come cheap.
Additionally, the lack of any obvious social element to the game may be a serious hurdle for a genre that has traditionally been best experienced with friends. It should also be pointed out that Rock Band 3's Pro Mode offers some of the same experiences, with the added bonus of multiple instruments (and vocals), multiplayer options, and a cavernous library of songs.
Finally, the question has to be asked: just how much of a game is this? The trailers suggest that the point is for players to learn how to play each song outside the game, and the major in-game motivator is to beat one's own previous high score. Don't get me wrong -- Rocksmith may be a fantastic guitar trainer, and that would be an unquestionably unique and valuable proposition. But a trainer is not a game, and Ubisoft should be careful with how they position Rocksmith.
Ranters, what do you think of your first look at Rocksmith? Are you interested in learning more about the game? Can it succeed where other music games have failed? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Rocksmith is scheduled to release this Fall for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.