About 5 years ago music games were in their prime. Sales were booming for both the Guitar Hero series and the Rockband series. Everyone was fascinated by this idea of playing along to their favourite songs on plastic instruments and living the life of a rock star for 5 minutes and impressing their friends with their shredding ability of the green, red, yellow, blue and orange buttons. But it’s been about 2 years now since either of these brands released a big buzz title and the Activision have gone as far as cancelling and ruling out releasing another Guitar Hero game completely because the fact is, why play a plastic guitar, when you can learn guitar for real right?

Well that’s exactly the path Ubisoft have taken with their attempt at a music title named “Rocksmith”. The game has finally been released in Europe at the end of last week (if you missed it then it’s because you were too busy with Fifa 13 I’m guessing?) So the legal issue over the name they had encountered when trying to release it here last year has finally been passed and it’s available now. But what can you expect from this latest guitar game? Is it the same old story that will flop instantly? Or is there something about it that really makes it stand out?

Rocksmith differs from the rest as you actually require a real guitar to play the game. No more plastic coloured buttons, when playing the game you will actually being playing guitar. The user can plug in any guitar they want and begin to play. But if you’re thinking “Oh, I can’t play guitar, I’d be rubbish at this game” then don’t panic yet, the game is actually a perfect teacher for a beginner looking to pick up an instrument as a hobby. I’ve always wanted to play guitar myself as I’m a massive music fan but now that I can combine my love of gaming with the challenge of learning an instrument then it makes the learning of the instrument way more fun and enjoyable as you play along to songs you enjoy.

The game doesn’t just throw you in the deep end expecting you to be able to play it, it gradually builds you up, it teaches you all the techniques required to be a good guitarist, including hammer on/pull offs, chords shifting, sustains, palm mutes etc. You can learn these different techniques by entering the “Guitarcade” section in which you take part in various mini games to help you become more familiar with the different techniques. There are 8 mini games they are inspired by arcade games from the past but have the added element of using a guitar to complete them. On top of this the game has a “Riff Repeater” mode in which the game tests your ability of a certain section of a song and helps you to master the section 100%. It can be very difficult at times but eventually you will become and better musician and be able to do. Because the game isn’t just there for fun, it actually turns you into a musician if you are able to put the time and dedication into it like you would with anything else.

The game play is very similar to that of Guitar Hero and Rockband in that notes come at you on a highway and you have to play along to them as they pass through the section. Simple enough right? All you need to do is get your timing and techniques sorted and you could eventually set up a real band and right your own music? It could happen right?

The soundtrack to the game has something for everyone. With the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lenny Kravitz, Nirvana, Muse, Velvet Revolver, Kings of Leon and many more on the game and available to download over the coming months then there is definitely plenty to learn.

Rocksmith is available now for Play Station 3, Xbox 360 and will be out later this month on PC.

Review in association with Duracell Gaming Accessories, which are available from Amazon, Play.com and Zavvi.com Review by Thomas Thompsett, White Room Games.