Review: Rocksmith 2014 (PS4)

Just over a year ago we reviewed Rocksmith 2014, the latest in Ubisoft’s fledgling music game series. Aimed every much as a learning tool as opposed to a plastic-instrument clickalong, Rocksmith 2014 improved on the original in almost every way you could wish for, and remains a highly successful and incredibly fun way of either learning to play the guitar or bass guitar, or just honing your skills by learning a few songs. With the new consoles now more established than they were when it was released on the PS3 and 360 (in fact they’d barely been released at that time) Ubisoft have presented the latest version, which remains largely the same as the older generation’s instalment but with one or two advantages.

Firstly, let’s get the basics out of the way. This is the same game that was released last year. There’s very little by way of new features, the songs included on the disc are the same and everything behaves in exactly the same way in terms of how well the game picks the guitars up and so on. If you want to know more, then head over to our review last year to learn about it. If you’re more interested in knowing what’s new this year and how it affects your decision to buy it again, then read on.

Those of you who have previously owned a version of Rocksmith and as such already own the USB cable which hooks your guitar to the console don’t need to worry about needing more kit – Ubisoft have made sure all of your previous equipment is still compatible, so there’s no need to go out and buy the more expensive version of the game just to end up with a second identical cable. It’s entirely likely that some of you will have build up a decent sized collection of DLC songs too – after all there have been some extremely good song packs released in the past 12 months – and you’ll be pleased to hear that these are also fully available from day 1. In fact, the ability to download the entire Rocksmith DLC collection from the day of release is one thing that elevates this new version above the one released last year. Yes it’s the same game, but there’s a wealth of content available for a few extra quid.

A notable change though is how the sound is delivered to your ears. HDMI is all very well and good, but isn’t the best at providing latency-free audio. As such, Ubisoft’s previous recommended setup of using analogue sound outputs made a lot of sense, but have hit a snag – the new consoles don’t have analogue sound outputs. So if you’re after the best experience you’ll need to be looking at some kind of optical audio option, be it a separate amp, fancy headphones or some other way to get it into your TV away from the HDMI cable.¬†You can still use HDMI and it works very well, but there’s a slight delay which can be jarring when using the practice, jamming or amp simulating options.

The only other tweak of note is the fact it all runs in 1080p now, but you’ll be so busy trying to get your head and hands round the tricky riffs you’ll probably not even notice that one. Everything looks nice enough though, and the clear, large menus make navigating around a relatively easy experience throughout.

So while there’s not much new to write home about in terms of the new consoles’ version of Rocksmith 2014, it’s still the same top quality game that it was last year. Whether or not you need to buy it again if you bought last year’s version is up for debate, and entirely depends on whether you think your audio setup and shiny 1080p TV will make the experience more enjoyable for you. But those still wanting to learn to play, or anyone who already plays but wants to pick up a few new tricks could do very well our of Rocksmith 2014. It’s intelligent, it teaches well and it’s great fun to boot. All in all, it’s still every bit as good as it was before.

Reviewed on PS4

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