Hitting All The Low Notes – Rocksmith Bass Expansion Review
This game was reviewed on Xbox 360
Since Rocksmith’s release last October, bass-playing fans have been waiting to see if they’ll be able to get in on the fun. Thankfully that patience has paid off, as the Bass Expansion has been released. Was it worth the months of waiting, or is it terribly out of tune?
Rocksmith Bass Expansion acts exactly like the main game, with the obvious exception that the instrument has changed. On start up, players are able to choose between the original standard guitar or new bass guitar modes. Selecting bass for the first time is nearly identical to the standard side: you’re given a quick rundown as to what the bass is all about, asked to tune, then you’re thrown into Journey Mode. Again, as with the original, you’re free to pick between songs in a setlist to play, practice recommended techniques, and generally learn what it takes to play bass. Both bass and standard journeys are separate from each other, and players are even able to switch between the two modes as they see fit without any load screens – you need only plug in the other instrument. This feature is a fantastic and invaluable to gamers who play both instruments and like to switch back and forth.
Of course, if you’re more about the destination than the journey, you’re free to jump right into your favourite songs, Guitarcade mini-games, or technique challenges – everything that standard players have access to. Bass line arrangements are a riot to play, with earlier songs starting out simple, then leading to complex and challenging ones as the game goes on. If you find you need a bit of practice on a certain song or riff, all of the riff repeater modes are available for bass as well, allowing the gamer to work on one section at a time to either level it up, learn it slowly before increasing tempo, or just refresh their memory.
Whether you’re just touching a bass for the first time or you’re a seasoned veteran looking to stay sharp you’ll have access to several technique challenges. These helpful little lessons teach the basic and advanced tricks of the instrument, be it a universal skill such as shifting or hammer-ons/pull-offs, or bass-specific techniques like slapping and popping. Bronze, silver, and gold medals are also awarded to you based on your skill and accuracy, as sort of an incentive to work on and master your fundamentals. If players practice these skills, especially when they come up in context with Journey Mode, they should have very little trouble learning and growing as a bass player.
The Bass Expansion brings with it its own unique amps and pedals as well, once again similar to that of the standalone game. Aside from standard bass tones, players can unlock and use the authentic set-ups from each song’s bass line. On top of this, tones for bass can even be customized like that of the standard guitar tracks, allowing gamers to create their own unique sound. If you’re feeling a bit crazy, the regular guitar tones can even be selected for bass tracks, allowing the gamer to mix and match as they see fit – such as rocking a harsh “Icky Thump” sound while playing the bass in “Sunshine of Your Love.”
Should you not own a bass, but are still interested in the Bass Expansion (whether it’s to try the low end before buying a new guitar, or you’re just looking for an excuse to play different riffs in multiplayer) then your six-string standard guitar can emulate a four-string bass. While your guitar will obviously still sound normal, the in-game sound will be shifted down an octave giving it that low, rich tone. Whether you choose to continue to use your pick or adapt to the standard bass technique, you’ll be able to play the low-end riffs without any issue. If you’re actually looking to learn the proper skills, however, this emulation isn’t perfect nor permanent. Some techniques, namely slapping and popping, actually require a bass to do properly. While it technically can be done, the size and closeness of your standard guitar’s strings make it difficult to slap the correct string alone, get your fingers between them to pop the right string, and both lack the bunch that the heavy strings of a bass provide. Should you truly want to learn to play bass, and not just play some extra riffs, you’re going to want to use a real bass – your standard won’t cut it forever.
Once the encore finishes and you exit stage-right, you’ll see how exceptional Rocksmith‘s Bass Expansion is. Whether you’re brand new to any guitar, looking to expand your instrumental horizons, or are a bass wizard just glad you’re able to play along with your friends, you will find both great instruction, direction, and a fret-board full of entertainment. So grab your deep-voiced guitar, tune on up, and get your lesson on – those strings won’t slap themselves!
Final Score: 5.0 / 5.0 and a slap-bass solo of the Seinfeld theme, oh yea!
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