FutureFive NZ - Guitar game says goodbye to button rock

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Guitar game says goodbye to button rock

Ubisoft has declared worldwide war on the ‘button rock’ of games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, announcing an international release of its rock ‘n’ roll game that players play using real guitars, Rocksmith.

The news will be welcome for real guitarists everywhere, who since the release of Guitar Hero back in 2005 have been forced to flounder along, vainly slapping multi-coloured buttons while their gamer friends glide through the solo on Metallica’s ‘One’ like cyber-Hendrix.

As a guitarist, I can say that it’s very annoying – but with the announcement of Rocksmith, I think my luck might finally be changing.

Touted to be the real thing for those serious about learning and playing the guitar, to play Rocksmith you actually play the instrument; plug in any electric guitar, and away you go.

The game has taken off in North America since its release last October, and will receive a Europe, Middle-East and Asia release on September 13 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with a later release date for PC/Mac (there’s no specific date for New Zealand yet, but we’re expected to fall in with the worldwide announcement).

Ubisoft, who are responsible for the game, have even paired up with Gibson sub-brand Epiphone to put together a bundle including the game and an Epiphone Les Paul Junior electric guitar.

Rocksmith includes more than 50 tracks, from Bowie to the Black Keys to Tom Petty – but is there a market for a game like this internationally?

Music games have been around for years, meeting varying degrees of success. Retro gamers might remember PaRappa the Rapper from 1996, one of the most bizarre games ever released, or the more recent Patapon games for the PSP which were genuinely awesome.

Since the release of Guitar Hero, we’ve gone from rhythm-based games to genuine attempts at simulation, combining rhythm, frenetic finger skill, and teamwork.

However, Guitar Hero is still a guitar-playing simulator, just like Flight Simulator is a flying simulator (the name is the clue). The strength of those games is that they are simulators; anyone can do them. This of course is an illusion. Being the king of Sim City does not mean you can run for mayor, a flight simulator guru will not automatically ace flying school and a Guitar Hero legend isn’t necessarily the next Clapton.

Rocksmith goes one step further, although there will still be many who say rocking on a console has nothing in common with rocking on a stage.

Indeed, some may even argue that this kind of game encourage rock-by-numbers guitarists – people who can imitate any tune you care to name, but are completely unable to improvise a solo or create anything new or original.

I think with the release of Rocksmith we’ll see two schools of people – those who can play the guitar and want to be able to plug it into their TV, and those who get frustrated in 14 minutes and put it in the corner to gather dust.

In the ever-wise words of Eric Cartman, ‘real guitars are for old people’. It’s a little sad, but I think this opinion might be representative of a sizeable chunk of the video game market.

What do you guys think? Is Rocksmith the next logical step for the genre, or will it strike the wrong chord with an international audience? Check out the trailer below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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