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COLUMN: Aaron’s Backstage Pass: BandFuse Rock Legends PS3 Review

Updated: 12/10/2013 2:27 PM
Created: 12/10/2013 8:50 AM KSTP.com
By: Aaron Chalich

I really enjoy music and going to concerts; however, I do not know how to play an instrument.  I have always wanted to learn, but never had the time and thought it was too complicated.

That all changed this past week when I received a review copy of Mastiff’s” BandFuse: Rock Legends” for the PS3.

“BandFuse” is more than just a game. I wouldn’t even call it a game because it’s more of a learning device. It teaches you how to really play a guitar, bass guitar or to sing.

One great quality of the game is that you can use your own guitar and microphone. Plug them into your PS3 by using the USB cable that is included with the game.

“BandFuse” explains what you need to know about your guitar, such as what each part does, how to hold it, and what frets and chords are and how to play them. I thought the game was explained well and I was able to learn from it.

One really neat thing is that before you play a lesson or song, you can tune your guitar.  You can select each string and tune them. I used my wife’s guitar and thought that tuning was pretty easy because “BandFuse” explains how to do it.

There is a mode called “Shred U” where beginners, like me, or experienced musicians can go and learn how to play. The cool thing is the guitar lessons are given by Slash, who played for Guns n’ Roses.  There are other rock legends who help you along the way. They include: Zakk Wylde (Black Label Society), Mike Ness (Social Distortion), Bootsy Collins (Parliament-Funkadelic), George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob), Alexi Laiho (Children of Bodom), and Zoltan Bathory and Jason Hook (Five Finger Death Punch).

All of the lessons are actual videos of the musicians. This helps because they demonstrate what they are talking about. I had never picked up a guitar before and had no idea what I needed to do, but they show you where you need to place your fingers and how to move them.

After the musician is done explaining a technique, you are able to attempt it. For example, the first thing you learn is how to strum. When you start, all six strings appear on the bottom of the screen.  A bar will come across the screen on the string you are supposed to strum along with a number.  The number represents which fret you need to push on the neck of the guitar.  If you do this correctly the bar will fill up. At the end of the lesson, you are scored by how well you did.  At first I was averaging around 35 percent because it was hard. By the end, I was getting 75 percent.

There are several lessons, including advanced ones for experienced players. 

There are also other modes that you can choose to play that are really fun once you get the hang of playing. In career mode, you can tour and try to become a rock legend. Additionally, you can play multiplayer with multiple instruments. This, however, does require extra cables.  Once person can sing or play bass while the other person plays guitar.

Another mode is freestyle/backing tracks mode, where you can create and record your own music then play it back.  I know that users who are experienced musicians, or people that have already learned how to play guitar, will really like this feature.

Of everything you are able to do, my favorite feature in “BandFuse: Rock Legends” is the set list. There are 55 different songs that you can play.  You can set the difficulty and make it easy and play just simple notes, or you can set it for a harder difficulty for more experienced musicians.  I had a lot of fun playing all of the different songs and trying to learn them.  My wife, who plays guitar, thought the easy mode was not challenging enough and tried the more advanced level for some songs. She also thought the game was really fun.

When you play one of the tracks from the set list, the screen is split into two parts.  The upper half of the screen plays the actual music video and has the lyrics to the song.  The bottom part of the screen is for the guitar players and shows you which string, fret, and chords you will need to play.
 

I really liked the selection of songs, because they ranged from metal, rock, punk and funk.  The set list includes:
2000s

  • Stellar Revival  “The Crazy Ones”
  • Halestorm “Love Bites (So Do I)”
  • Red Fang  “Wires”
  • Shinedown  “Devour”
  • Bullet For My Valentine “Tears Don’t Fall”
  • My Chemical Romance “Welcome to the Black Parade”
  • Wolfmother  “Woman”
  • All American Rejects  “Move Along”
  • Children of Bodom  “Are You Dead Yet?”
  • Fallout Boy “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down”
  • Modest Mouse  “Float On”
  • The Strokes  “Reptilia”
  • The Distillers  “Drain the Blood”
  • Maroon 5  “Harder to Breathe”
  • Blink 182  “All The Small Things”
  • Coldplay  “Yellow”
  • Incubus  “Drive”
  • Nine Days  “Absolutely (Story of a Girl)”

1990s

  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd  “Blue on Black”
  • Blur  “Song 2”
  • Duncan Sheik  “Barely Breathing”
  • Sublime  “What I Got”
  • Alanis Morissette  “You Oughta Know”
  • Bad Religion “Infected”
  • Pantera  “I’m Broken”
  • Blind Melon “No Rain”
  • Dream Theater  “Pull Me Under”
  • Pearl Jam  “Alive”
  • Faith No More  “Epic”
  • Jane’s Addiction  “Been Caught Stealing”
  • Megadeth  “Hangar 18”
  • Testament  “Souls of Black”

1980s

  • The Pixies  “Here Comes Your Man”
  • Living Colour  “Cult of Personality”
  • Grateful Dead  “Hell in a Bucket”
  • Ratt  “Round and Round”
  • Billy Idol  “Rebel Yell”
  • Modern English  “I Melt With You”
  • The Clash “Should I Stay or Should I Go”
  • Brian Setzer  “Rock This Town”
  • Rick Springfield  “Jessie’s Girl”
  • Rush  “Limelight”
  • Judas Priest  “Breaking the Law”

‘70s & ‘60s

  • Foreigner “Hot Blooded”
  • Blue Öyster Cult “Godzilla”
  • Cheap Trick “I Want You to Want Me”
  • Heart “Barracuda”
  • Kansas  “Carry on Wayward Son”
  • Santana  “Black Magic Woman”

Overall, I thought “BandFuse: Rock Legends” was awesome.  It is a really great teaching program that will show you how to play the guitar. I thought the lessons were easy to follow and were explained very well. “BandFuse” is perfect for every guitar player.

You won’t learn how to play guitar overnight and it will take many hours of practice, but “BandFuse” will help teach you all of the basics of being a great guitar player.

If you are thinking about learning how to play guitar or want to take your guitar playing skills to the next level, you should check out “BandFuse: Rock Legends."

Aaron Chalich is a KSTP.com entertainment columnist.

Photo courtesy of Mastiff

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