Rocksmith 2014: Fifteen Days Later

Nowadays, I like to bring my guitar to the park. It makes me feel like I’m one with the wind, or something. I sit on whatever bench is closest to a group of attractive girls (either walking their pets, or watching their kids be ogled by childless weirdos) and I start strumming; G major, C Major, G major, D Major. They can’t tell that I’m terrible, because I have a handlebar mustache and a UCLA trucker hat — UCLA being a school I have never attended. I wait for them to notice me before I take a sip of my Fiji water and set my guitar down. I tip my over-sized beanie to the prettiest of the bunch, place my Ray Bans back in their faux-leather case, and tuck my seashell necklace into my vintage flannel button down. I’m a guitarist at last. Finally, a way to express those poetic thoughts that have long been too complex for translation.

You see, fifteen days ago I reviewed Rocksmith 2014. Since then, I’ve been an infinity-scarf away from exclusively purchasing faded plaid T-Shirts, listening to music that’s so indie it hasn’t even been recorded yet and drinking more pumpkin spice lattes than is recommended by the Starbucks staff — and they’d sell a floor-dusted scone to a cancerous orphan. It’s not because Rocksmith is some counter-culture-corruption device with the purpose of turning every person into a Michael Cera clone; rather, it’s because Rocksmith works so well, that I genuinely — even if only until I’m humiliated by a YouTube demonstration — feel as if I’m becoming a real guitarist as I advance through the program.

From the moment I received my copy of Rocksmith, my intention was to learn a skill that didn’t yet exist. This is something that I realized was entirely possible while reviewing the game, and it has only been strengthened through continual use. It’s almost hard to believe that it was only fifteen days ago that I couldn’t strum a single note. I was as much of a guitarist as I was the lead singer of Dead Man’s Bones — in both talent and appearance. I was as musically capable as a newborn puppy; deaf to the awful sounds I was producing at 4AM, and blind to the neighbors gathering around my house in anger. Since then, my horizons have been broadened beyond the Doritos dusted controller and Mountain Dew stained sense of satisfaction I would drown my ego in with each violence fueled match online. I wasn’t just screaming expletives at children anymore; I was screaming expletives at children with the accompanying sounds of nifty guitar riffs.

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If you’ve yet to read my review, you should know that I was very much impressed by everything that Rocksmith 2014 had to offer. You should also know that I wasn’t very familiar with guitars, and embarrassingly required the help of a Guitar Center employee just to hold one. While my intention was never to be the next Brian May (all future perms withstanding), my skills were improving by the day, and what at first felt like an instructional play-through was now an exciting game. However, this is not another review. It’s a recommendation. It’s me asking the world: what’s a real guitarist without a guitar? That’s like asking what a real man is without a container of patchouli oil and a pouch of dried rose petals on the counter in his bathroom — it simply doesn’t exist. The bottom line is: you’ll need one if you plan on graduating from plastic academy.

Through Rocksmith, what was once an impressive skill exclusive to rockstars and edgy college students is as accessible as any other video game. You learn, you play, you lure promiscuous campus-roamers into your dorm room for a private “session.” Now, you’re probably thinking that such an amazing learning tool is likely to be boring. Well, you’d be pretty damn wrong. Rocksmith is a rhythm game. Do you like rhythm games? If yes is the answer, you can stop wasting your time frantically bashing on colorful buttons and set off on your path to not being a loser.

Assuming my ramblings have convinced you, your only problem now is choosing what type of guitarist you’ll be. If you think you’re man enough to start wearing cardigans over slightly tighter cardigans, go ahead and grab yourself a nice vintage 1957 Gibson from your local music shoppe. However, if you’re looking to get some mosh-pits started, have countless underage fan-girls propose that you impregnate them repeatedly, and perform every waking moment in exchange for designer drugs and pricy prostitutes, grab yourself any electric guitar that didn’t come from a store that also sells grocery items and get ready to melt some faces. The entire process is as easy as buying a guitar, connecting the guitar and beginning the game. In the haze of fun and laughter you won’t even notice how quickly you’re improving until you watch the notes vanish from the screen as you perfect a song — a sense of fulfillment normally reserved for things that are rarely enjoyable.

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While Rocksmith is inherently more difficult than simply mastering the speed and precision required by most typical rhythm games, it’s entirely fun even when it’s obviously forcing its lessons into your playtime. The greatness of the product doesn’t hide beneath needless complications. Everything is at your disposal at all times, and the sense of accomplishment and progression makes every study-session feel like a game. If you still aren’t sold, here are some possibly true facts about guitars. Fact: carrying a guitar will make ladies swarm you on any non-community college campus in America. Fact: guitars make your beard grow in thicker and more robust. Fact: people carrying a guitar case are less likely to get mugged because they’re usually broke. Fact: Rocksmith works, and it will help you achieve your dream of playing the guitar faster than any available method through fun game-like modes and an expansive set of features. I couldn’t recommend it enough.