With Rocksmith, Ubisoft set out to raise the bar when it came to music games, by actually trying to teach players how to play a lead guitar. However, despite having a co-op option which was supposedly included so gamers could jam together, Rocksmith did not allow one player to play the bass line of the song, limiting co-op to those songs with lead and rhythm guitar arrangements.
To correct that deficiency, Ubisoft has released the Rocksmith: Bass Expansion DLC, which adds bass arrangements to every song in the original game and any downloadable song content that naturally features a bass line. The inclusion of these tracks certainly makes Rocksmith feel more complete, but does the new Bass Expansion DLC warrant spending an additional $29.99 for those who may have already shelled out $70 for the original disc, or $200 for the guitar bundle? Read out review to find out.
In our review of Rocksmith, we were impressed with the game’s technology and the fact that we could use real guitars, provided the instruments had the standard ¼ inch jack. However, we did find that some of the lead guitar techniques that were taught in game didn’t always register correctly, and that the game ultimately failed to work as a lone teaching tool. Further, when playing Rocksmith, the player did not necessarily learn how to play the guitar nor understand music theory, but instead simply mimicked what appeared onscreen. Exacerbating these issues, Rocksmith had rather long load times in between songs and other game features.
Unfortunately, these problems are not remedied with the Bass Expansion DLC, so if the original game did not satisfy, this add-on is not likely to either. But for those who enjoyed the original game, the Bass Expansion DLC is a nice addition to help rock your socks off.
To its credit, Ubisoft recognized that a lot of gamers may not own both a lead and bass guitar, so the Bass Expansion includes a Bass Guitar simulator which allows players to utilize their regular six-string guitar. The emulated mode works extremely well and the only real down side is the close spacing of the strings on your standard guitar can make inadvertent string plucking a bit more difficult to avoid. Still, it’s a very workable solution for those who don’t want to spend the cash for a new guitar.
The DLC features a “Journey” mode patterned after the main game with the same venues, Guitarcade mini games, and advancement structure. This career mode stays separate and apart from the original game and players can switch quickly between lead and bass guitar modes with the press of a button.
There are also bass-specific amps that can be utilized and lessons regarding various techniques such as Two-Finger Plucking, Syncopation, Octaves & Fifths, and Slaps and Pops. The short lesson videos are well done and easy to follow and should have novices plucking away in no time. Most beginners will likely find playing bass a little less challenging than lead guitar, at least initially, so this expansion may offer more enjoyment for the less coordinated crowd than lead guitar. That’s not to say there is no challenge here as the level of difficulty certainly ramps up quickly as the game begins to incorporate the more advanced techniques.
Note detection was generally solid, but Rocksmith still has trouble recognizing more advanced movements such as Slaps and pops and Palm Mutes. While not a deal breaker, this can certainly be frustrating when trying to score enough points in order to advance to the next show.
Will this DLC improve a player’s ability to play bass guitar? Most definitely, but keep in mind that, as mentioned, the expansion has many of the limitations of the original title. Rocksmith can be a great practice tool for experienced bass players, but continues to be an imperfect teaching tool for beginners. Players can memorize how to play a specific song, but their understanding of the bass guitar as an instrument will be superficial. Nonetheless, this could motivate an individual to pursue lessons with a real teacher, which certainly isn’t a bad thing.
The Rocksmith: Bass Expansion is now available for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. For those who don’t own Rocksmith but are interested in the Bass Expansion DLC, Ubisoft is releasing a retail version, which includes the original content as well, for consoles and the PC on October 16, 2012. Game Rant played the Xbox 360 version for the review.