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'Rocksmith': The game that'll teach you guitar

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As musical novices, last month's Rocksmith lessons were limited to learning the basics, which covered everything from holding the guitar and how to strum, to playing riffs and performing solos - badly.

Having whizzed through some early gigs and improved our muscle memory, we hit a bit of a brick wall when the action intensified, which led to some practice time with one of the game's Guitarcade challenges 'Ducks'.

Things were about to become even more difficult thanks to the introduction of chords and power chords, techniques that would strain our relationship with our Epiphone Les Paul Junior.

Rocksmith

© Ubisoft



Lesson Two: Chords and Power Chords

Back in the game's Event mode, having spent some time continually smashing high scores in 'Ducks', Rocksmith began to recommend combo musical arrangements, rather than single-note songs. Beginning with Nirvana's 'In Bloom' - an old favourite - we once again found ourselves out of our depth when greeted with power chords - a barely decipherable selection of notes and strings.

Not for the first time, we decided to back out of the Event manager and into the main menu screen, where we were greeted with numerous ways to learn new techniques. Whether checking out tutorial videos, attempting Technique Challenges or rehearsing songs, we were pleased to find multiple ways to get accustomed to new skills.

After learning a bit more about power chords in the video section and trying a Technique Challenge - a challenge we failed - we picked 'In Bloom' from the song list, choosing the Riff Repeater option, which tasks players with playing individual song parts, ramping up the difficulty with every successful playthrough. This genuinely helped us familiarise ourselves with the track's structure.

We also revisited 'Satisfaction' by the Rolling Stones in the Chord Book section, learning each individual chord and unlocking excellent mini-game 'Dawn of the Chordead' in the process. Still far from proficient, we were now at least armed with the necessary skills to nail 'In Bloom' and move on to the next gig back in the Event mode.


Latest impressions as a teaching tool

With a little bit of hunting for the right game mode, Rocksmith once again turns what could have been a spectacular failure into a storming success. It provides a real sense of achievement, especially when you're eventually able to string together a series of chords or power chords.

The number of ways to get acquainted with songs and individual techniques is exceptional, although as with any game that has countless options and menu screens, it's easy to get a little lost, forgetting or overlooking helpful sections in favour of challenges that are beyond your capabilities.

Having an abundance of options is far from a bad thing, of course, but like a fitness fanatic customising a workout routine at the gym, it takes a certain amount of experimentation in order to find your level. While it's easy to get carried away unlocking new gigs in the Event mode, sometimes it's best to take a step back and check out what else is on offer.

Rocksmith

© Ubisoft



Week Two's Highs and Lows of Rocksmith

Highlights: Unlocking zombie-based mini-game 'Dawn of the Chordead' in Guitarcade. Though trickier than 'Ducks', it's a wonderfully unique way to memorise those chords.

Low point: "He's the one who likes all our pretty songs, and he likes to sing along and he likes to shoot his gun, but he knows not what it means, knows not what it means." The lyrics to 'In Bloom' sum up our bemusement when faced with our first few power chords.

Join us next month as we put more hours into Rocksmith, building up to a performance incorporating riffs, chords and solos.

Rocksmith is out now in North America and will be released on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in Europe this October.


Watch Nirvana's 'In Bloom' music video below:

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