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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rocksmith for Xbox 360 - some comments, 29 Oct 2012
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= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: Rocksmith - includes Real Tone Cable (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
First off, I already play guitar to a reasonable level, so these comments come from that perspective.
Secondly, this is an updated review, as I've found out a few more things, including how to do what I thought initially was a major failing/omission of this game for me, so I've updated the review and scores a little to reflect this.

I was initially unsure whether to get this game, due to some of the more negative comments regarding the unintuitive and awkward menu system, (more of which later), and the reported issues with lag.

When I initially got this game and tried it for the first time, I was concerned I'd made a mistake, as the menus are indeed pretty painful, and the audio lag was pretty dire.

I must admit to being a little confused initially with the display lag settings in this game. It does tell you that this setting only affects the video lag in the setup option itself, but I didn`t notice this at first. This is something the game seems to do a lot, i.e., have some vital bit of information almost casually tucked away on the screen somewhere, as a result of which I seem to often miss it at first! I therefore spent a little while trying to adjust the audio lag of the guitar with this, and wondering why it didn't seem to have any effect on the delay between what I was playing and it coming out of the speakers.

With a little perseverance and experimentation however, involving trying various combinations of cabling configuration, TV settings (game mode and turning off as much sound/screen processing as I could), and even using external speakers direct from my xbox, I have been able to get the guitar audio lag down to tolerable levels on both my main TV just using HDMI, and on my second TV using composite video to the TV and audio out to external speakers, which does seem to be better, although even here I don't seem to be able to eradicate all lag. Having said that, although it can still be an issue on songs with quite fast repetitive parts such as Song 2 by Blur for instance, I've still been able to play through this. I'd still rather the lag was lower however, as it is still intrusive at times. I did read something, which I think was from UBISoft, that said the game is optimised for 40 milliseconds, which I can't understand, as I think the audio delay should be as low as possible, and can't quite understand why UBISoft opted for this value if this is true.

The other main problem I had was caused by the menu system, and the above mentioned tendency to throw important info at you almost casually on the option screens, and often on some pretty transient ones at that.

The problem I had was that I found myself wanting to be able to set a song to the maximum difficulty level, and play through it at a set speed, as I was finding the automatic levelling problematic. The tendency was that no sooner had the game levelled me up because I was playing the current level correctly, it levelled me down again because I couldn`t figure out the higher level notes fast enough, as the screen/display can be difficult to interpret at high levels with complex arrangements, to play them in time to maintain the higher level. At first I didn`t think this could be done, but eventually I stumbled onto and noticed the relevant on-screen blurb in the right section of the menu options. I had to read it pretty quickly even then however, as the pertinent bit is also the last bit! I think I possibly only noticed it at all because I was looking for it as it cropped up as a big issue for me in my first attempt at reviewing this game. Discovering how to do this however has allowed me to master some songs I'd been having difficulty with due to the speed and complexity of the arrangements. For reference, you need to enter the accelerator function from the riff-repeater function in the songs option, pick a section, check tuning, and start it. You then press the start button on your controller, which allows you to scroll through and set separate options for both the difficulty, or mastery as they call it, and the speed. This then stops the accelerator function, and plays through the section using your selected settings. Note however that it continues to do this until you press the start button again, and re-select the accelerator option to re-enable the normal accelerator function, otherwise you could find yourself playing the same section indefinitely as it just keeps repeating until you`ve lost all your lives, (which you won't if you actually play it right).

On the subject of reading the notes on the display, as a guitarist already used to reading tab, I found the game's default view very difficult, and found it much easier to use the 'inverted' string view, as this this then displays the strings as they are arranged in guitar tablature, (with the lowest string at the bottom, and the highest at the top). This also results in chord boxes which are displayed the same as standard notation chord boxes, albeit they are on their side compared to normal chord box notation, but this is still easier than the game's default setting, in which chord boxes are effectively left-handed! If you are a guitarist already, and used to TAB, then you've probably already set the string arrangement to inverted. If you aren't, you might want to consider switching the string arrangement to inverted anyway, as this will, I think, make it much easier to read TAB later if you want or need to do this in the future.

The songs included in the game seem to cover a range of musical and guitar playing styles and genres, which I think is a good thing, although some might seem a little off the wall. As with similar games like Rockband and Guitar Hero, some of the songs I know quite well, (although as usual I didn't know I did until I heard them, as I'm not big on titles), some a little, and some not at all, but I'm enjoying playing/learning most of them so far, and some of my favourites are by artists I`ve never heard of before. However, the fact that we are playing a real guitar here, and not a toy controller, may possibly have had some influence on the song selection, as the arrangements have to be real guitar arrangements, not just some arbitrary 5 button approximation. With 5 buttons you can take any song and assign a set of button pushes as an approximation of what's really being played, but it doesn't have to bear any resemblance to what the guitarist would actually be doing, to the extent that sometimes I found the button arrangement harder to play than the actual song! With this game however the developers/arrangers don't have that luxury, but have to make the song arrangements real-world ones, so the actual music defines the arrangement the game uses, even if it's simplified. Whether this really had anything to do with the song choices particularly I'm not sure, but the songs themselves do seem to fit well with the system, in as much as they all seem relatively playable, so you don't have to be a guitar god to play them, (at least as far as I've got), and from this perspective seem good choices. In any event however, for a guitarist like myself actually playing a real guitar beats the pants off a button based guitar controller, and I wonder if I'll ever pick up my button controller again now I have this.

I'm not sure how easy this game will be for non-guitarists to pick up initially, as there are a lot of motor and muscle skills/memories you need to acquire, even at low levels, which will, like any instrument, require practice. The game does contain some training tools for some of the skills and techniques you'll need to develop, although you may need to look elsewhere to complement these, and bolster your playing. Others argue well for taking actual guitar lessons, or using formal tuition books etc. to fill in the gaps, and it's probably worth reading these reviews yourself to form an opinion on the merits of this for you. Nonetheless, the game has received some good comment from non-guitarists. A slight note of warning on playing however. Like Guitar Hero and Rockband, this game can be quite addictive, as can its mini games, and it's all too tempting to play for too long. Don't! Take a rest when your hands get tired or your fingers sore. (Particularly bending strings near the headstock end of the neck!!!) You can always come back to it later. If you don't, and end up hurting your hands/fingers, which I once did when I was learning guitar, it can take much longer waiting for them to heal sufficiently to play again! With practice however your hands will gain strength and your fingertips will toughen up.

So, in short, a few flaws, but still lots of fun. I'm really glad I bought it in the end, particularly now I've sussed out how to manually adjust the difficulty and speed in concert, and I'd definitely buy it again if I had too. Hope this has been helpful.
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