I still miss the Events from the original RS and I'd like to see them return in future versions, but Rocksmith 2014 continues to blow me away. That's the good news.
The bad news is Rocksmith 2014 has totally locked up on me for the 5th time.
Session Mode - A Fully-Stocked Gourmet KitchenMy next pending mission was to Play Session Mode for 10 minutes. Remember how you felt in school when you had to give a 5-minute speech in front of the class? Playing 10 minutes of Session Mode causes me a similar level of agony.
Session Mode is a great new feature in RS2014. It really is amazing. But, so far, I am not a huge fan. First of all, they should really call it "Jam Mode." I'm familiar with the term "jam session." But just the word "session" by itself suggests recording. As far as I know, you can't save or "record" what you play in Session Mode (although that might be a good idea for future versions. . .). So, you're really just jamming. [Actually, one of my loyal readers, Tim, referred to this feature as "Jam Mode" wayyyy back in August when we were still anticipating the release of RS2014.]
Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. It doesn't matter what they call it. For me, playing in Session Mode is like walking into a fully stocked gourmet kitchen without a recipe. All the materials and equipment are there; I just don't know what to do with them. Quite frustrating.
Session Mode lets you select a key, set the tempo, pick the "feel" for the music, and design an entire back-up band instrument by instrument. There's really no limit to what you can do with it.
But, based on my experience - which is admittedly very limited at this point - Session Mode is a playground for guitar players who already have a knack for improvising. You don't need to be able to tap or play incredibly fast or anything, but you do need a certain aptitude for pulling a melody out of thin air. If you've got that talent, Session Mode (combined with Tone Designer) is a wonderland where you can experiment for hours on end without buying thousands of dollars' worth of equipment!
I have no such talent. When I start up Session Mode, I see a scale on a guitar neck. The scale is shown at only one position on the neck, leaving me with only 12 notes to mess with. Different groups of those 12 notes appear to be highlighted based on the chord progression in the backing track. This sort of guides you along, but I basically end up running up and down those 12 notes (A-minor pentatonic is apparently the default scale), throwing in a few slides and bends to break up the monotony, and I sound totally lame - just like I've always sounded when I attempt to improvise on a guitar. For me it's probably a GOOD thing there's no recording capability in Session Mode!
Probably the only way to get good at jamming is to simply hack away at it until it clicks. Session Mode definitely gives you a facility to do that. But, I've been hacking away for over 30 years and I still suck. Maybe if there had been a Rocksmith 1978 with Session Mode I'd be a little better by now. . . but, I think I lack the DNA that is required to ever be truly good at improvising, no matter how long I play in Session Mode.
While others might be able to serve up a delicious lobster bisque of a guitar solo in ten minutes, I plucked around for ten minutes in the interest of knocking out this mission and managed to cob together a scrambled egg. No salt. Good enough to earn me the 20G Jam-a-Thon XBox Achievement and a couple of new skins for the CL-SS 210 amp. Also good enough to check off this mission and move on.
Nonstop Play - The (Surprise) Return of Randomly Generated Set-Lists!Nonstop Play Mode is another Main Menu option. In Nonstop Play mode you can create your own set-list, decide how long you want to play (from 5 to 90 minutes), and then just start playing song after song until your time runs out. Songs level up as you play, just like in LAS mode. But, there are no points, no scores, no percentages, no leaderboard standings. Just playing. Awesome!
Like I said, the other night I just wanted to do some casual playing for a fixed amount of time. Nonstop Play Mode is perfect for that. And, it turns out you don't even have to create your own set-list. You can create your own set-list using the Song Manager in the NS mode menu. But, if you don't want to bother with it, Rocksmith will do it for you, resulting in a sort of "Random Play Mode."
I assumed that Rocksmith would use the set-list I had created in a previous mission, but apparently set-lists don't get saved. Once you quit Rocksmith, any set-list you create in NS Mode goes away. I need to verify this, but it appears you have to create a new Nonstop Play set-list every time you restart Rocksmith. No problem -
If you don't create a set-list, Rocksmith will just give you a random list of songs to play. The first song that popped up for me when I first tried NS mode was Sore Tummy by PAWS - a song that I'd never even heard of and probably would never have picked to play. After that one I got We Are the Champions and Between the Lines, two old favorites of mine. Not quite a replacement for the Events in original RS, but this is a pretty good substitute for the old randomly generated set-lists. You end up playing some stuff that you might not otherwise ever play. Expand your horizons a little - give it a shot.
When your time is up or if there's not quite enough time to squeeze in another whole song before time runs out, Rocksmith will ask you if you want to quit or play One More Song. To complete the One More Song Mission and get the One More Song 10G XBox Achievement, you obviously have to play one more song. So I did.
And then Rocksmith 2014 completely locked up my XBox for the 5th time since I installed it. Not too happy about this, I must say. Pretty sure my Kinect was OFF, too. I'm starting to wonder if my XBox just isn't able to handle all the processing required to make RS2014 so awesome. (But, I will NOT be buying an XBox One. Ever.) This has not yet gotten to a point where it's a big problem, but 5 freeze-ups in less than 2 months is a lot compared to the 2 freeze-ups I had on the original RS over more than a year and a half. I'm just becoming a little concerned. Curious if anyone else is having this issue.