Many people(and by many I mean probably a few dozen. Not many people know about this game at all) thought BandFuse was just a poor man's Rocksmith and would be what PowerGig is to Rock Band and Guitar Hero. I, too, thought this would be the case. Thankfully, that's far from it and this is one of my favourite music games out there, and it's a shame that it sold so poorly.
Obviously BandFuse is a music game, but it's not like Guitar Hero or Rock Band(except for Pro guitar of course). Like Rocksmith, in BandFuse you plug in a real guitar or bass to play. You can also do vocals too if you have a USB microphone. However unlike those other games where the notes come towards you on the screen, in BandFuse the notes scroll by horizontally. If you've only played music games this may seem weird, but for people who've played guitar for a while and used programs such as Guitar Pro it seems completely natural. It's the same way guitar tabs are written out, so it's a lot easier to follow along with than the Pro Mode in Rock Band.
There's 5 levels of difficulty, ranging from Easy to Real. Although difficulty level 3 is what I recommend most people start at, since it's pretty much the equivalent to Guitar Hero's easy mode and any lower difficulty is just too mind numbingly easy. Difficulty level 5 is where you play the exact notes to the song. You can't fail, so there's no need to be scared about trying out a song on level 5.
There are a lot of different techniques such as slides, hammer ons, pull offs, trills, tremolo picking, slaps, etc. that are all represented by different symbols. The inside of the game case has a chart saying what each symbol represents so if you ever forget it's always there. The game does quite a good job at detecting which technique is which. Obviously it'd be pretty much impossible for the game to be able to 100% differentiate from a slap and a chukka, but it does a decent job at it. Note detection is also pretty spot on, so long as your guitar is in tune. For chords the game pays more attention to the root note and the next note after, so there's room for error on those 6 string chords.
As with most music games, there is a Tour mode and a Quickplay mode, along with many different types of practice modes. The main focus of this game is to teach you how to play guitar, so naturally the practice modes would be plentiful. There are tons of practice options like looping sections, slowing them down, or this thing called Note for Note where it stops scrolling right before each note so you can slowly see and play each and every one of the notes. This can be useful at first for fast solos where it's hard to tell what's going by, but for learning riffs slowing down is a much better way to learn for me at least. There are also a handful of tutorial videos which weren't exactly the most helpful to me, aside from the random tips from the Pros that were interviewed. They have interviews from Slash, George Lynch, Mike Ness, Zakk Wylde, the guys from Five Finger Death Punch, and more. If you're like me and you like hearing stories about a musician's past, you'll love all of these interview videos since they give you a good idea of what it was like for them becoming a successful musician, and it also gives you an idea of what touring and stuff is like.
One of my favourite parts about this game is the backing tracks they include. They have dozens of them spanning all types of genres and tempos for you to just jam along to. You can even save your playbacks and listen to them later, and they even have a blank 10 minute track if you want to record just your playing. This game has quite a few neat features.
The interface in this game is obviously lower budget, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. It looks just like a guitar learning program would, which is more ideal for me than the Rocksmith layout. It has the notes scrolling by horizontally from right to left with the strike zone on the left side. If you're doing single player, you'll have the music video of the song you're playing above the note track. In multiplayer there is no music video since that area of the screen is taken up by other note tracks.
Menus are fairly basic and easy to navigate, nothing fancy. Although fancy menus isn't even needed for a game like this. They're easy to navigate and that's what matters.
I gotta say, full band multiplayer isn't too great in this game. You can play with up to 4 people, but it has to be local so unless you have 3 other friends with the game or bought 3 extra cables, chances are you won't be playing it. With 4 players at once, the screen is just too clogged up. Having one guitarist and one vocalist isn't clogged since the music video is still there, but get more people and it just isn't pleasing to look at. It just doesn't have the same party feel as playing full band in Guitar Hero and Rock Band does.
Really the only problem I had with the first Rocksmith was that the setlist wasn't too varied. BandFuse, however, features an insanely varied setlists that includes everything from blues to punk to metal to pop rock and even to funk, and more. There truly is something for everyone in this setlist, and the songs are all great fun to play on the guitar.
A full list of all the songs available can be found here: http://music.bandfuse.com/
It's a game that's meant to be a guitar learning tool, do you honestly think there would be a story mode?
Tour mode is where you play gigs and challenges to unlock more gigs and challenges, but there's no story and it'd probably just have been a waste of time and effort if they tried to incorporate one.
This is honestly a great achievement list, the only problem is that it requires you to buy extra equipment other than the single cable that comes with the game if you want to complete it. You'll also need a guitar, bass, and a usb microphone. You can use a guitar to play the bass parts, but I found the game had a hard time picking up the notes so I recommend using an actual bass.
Other than all that equipment stuff, if you want the 1000/1000 in this game, you'll have to have years of experience already under your belt since you need to master all 55 songs in this game, including songs like Hangar 18, Pull Me Under, Souls of Black, Are You Dead Yet?, and a lot more tough songs. Thankfully there aren't any Yngwie Malmsteen or Michael Angelo Batio songs, so it's at least possible by people who aren't aliens. But even then, it is a true accomplishment to get the 1000 in this game and it will take a lot of hard work and dedication to the instrument. If you're looking for an easy game to boost your gamerscore, look elsewhere.
I highly recommend any guitar players should get this game. It truly is a fun tool to help improve your skills on the guitar. Whether you're a beginner or a master, I recommend you pick this up. It's the game that reinvigorated my love for the guitar.