SingStar Pop Vol. 2 Review
Despite hitting it big on the PlayStation 3 already, the SingStar franchise will continue to live on the PS2 for quite sometime. In fact, there are still a number of SingStar games to look forward to following the release of SingStar Pop Vol. 2. Those future games include SingStar Country and SingStar Legends. Of course this should come as no surprise, as the rhythm genre is one of the fastest growing genres in videogaming today, largely thanks to games like Guitar Hero and Singstar. And while the aforementioned two made the appeal of rhythm games much more mainstream, they're far from being the pioneers of it all. That said, Singstar, along with Karaoke Revolution, are pioneers of karaoke games. The first Revolution game landed at the end of 2003, and Singstar followed shortly after in early 2004. Today, both franchises feature a plethora of versions and spin-offs. But Singstar continues to win the heart of gamers, and enjoys better sales than Konami's game - especially in Europe.
Singstar's success comes with good reason too, as Karaoke Revolution often uses poorly done covers of songs, as opposed to licensing the actual tune. Sony's Singstar is so popular in Europe that its spawned a massive 17 titles in a brief four years! Less than half of those 17 have arrived in the US, but as I mentioned earlier, things are changing; more and more SingStar games are on their way here. The PlayStation 3's Singstar is the most recent game American gamers have been given, and it features a wave of tracks, many good, many I'd prefer to have never heard again. Here we have the PlayStation 2's SingStar Pop Vol. 2, obviously the follow-up to the original.
If you're not familiar with SingStar, here's quick crash course. Singstar uses a very clean user interface, one than even a five year old can navigate. You can either play a practice session, or play for points and attempt to score the best record. Because, karaoking is an activity that you don't normally do alone, feel free to call over another seven friends and compete in an eight-player activity. If you're wondering how SingStar games work, the game's superb voice recognition system will measure the tone and pitch of your voice, and instantly display your performance on the screen, as the vocal bars scroll along.
The object is to fill the bars on screen with accuracy by singing as accurately as possible. If you go flat, you'll get color below the bar; likewise, if you go sharp, you'll get color above the bar. It's a very intuitive system, and figuring out how it works doesn't take any longer than 10 seconds. Pop 2 boasts a collection of 30 tracks, the most notable to me were: Maroon 5 "Makes Me Wonder", The Hives "Tick Tick Boom", Sum 41 "Fat Lip", Lifehouse "First Time", Duran Duran "Ordinary World", and that's about it. The entire soundtrack looks like this:
3 Doors Down - "When I'm Gone"
Lloyd - "Get it Shawty"
Ashlee Simpson - "Boyfriend"
Maroon 5 - "Makes Me Wonder"
Avril Lavigne - "My Happy Ending"
Matchbox Twenty - "How Far We've Come"
Boys Like Girls - "The Great Escape"
Michelle Branch - "Breathe"
Cartel - "Lose It"
Nelly Furtado - "Promiscuous"
Colbie Caillat - "Bubbly"
Norah Jones - "Don't Know Why"
Dixie Chicks - "Not Ready To Make Nice"
P!nk - "Who Knew"
Duran Duran - "Ordinary World"
Peter Bjorn and John - "Young Folks"
Evanesence - "Bring Me To Life"
Plain White T's - "Hey There Delilah"
Fall Out Boy - "Thnks Fr Th Memrs"
Rihanna - "Umbrella"
Fergie - "Big Girls Don't Cry"
Santana feat. Chad Kroger - "Into The Night"
Gwen Stefani feat. Akon - "The Sweet Escape"
Steriogram - "Walkie Talkie Man"
Jennifer Lopez - "Jenny From the Block"
Sum 41 - "Fat Lip"
Lifehouse - "First Time"
The Hives - "Tick Tick Boom"
Lily Allen - "Littlest Things"
The Outfield - "Your Love"
As you can see, there's a lot of stuff that many people wouldn't be caught dead singing: Ashlee Simpson, Nelly Furtado, Jennifer Lopez, Fergie, Gwen Stefani, Dixie Chicks, Pink, Avril Lavigne, and some others. The exception, of course, being drunk - then all is forgiven. Regardless, a lot of these songs I absolutely hate, but a few of them I like. Ultimately, I am not the decider of what's right and wrong, so take a look at the list of songs and decide for yourself if Singstar Pop 2's assortment of tracks is worth your dollar. The bottom line here is that if you like what you see, this is a very well done and fun game with a solid voice recognition system.
Visually, Singstar features a very simple interface. Everything is neatly laid out, and the music bars scroll across the screen horizontally and smoothly. Unlike, say, Rockband or Guitar Hero, you won't experience dizziness from following the scrolling notes, and that's a plus. Additionally, the colors are easy on the eyes, too. Lastly, most of the songs were also given their respective music videos, which are played in the background - a definite plus over Singstar's competition.
The audio is crystal clean, as you'd expect. Naturally, because size limitation isn't a concern, the songs are all well represented and come through the speakers with pristine clarity. But it is the pitch recognition that really shines here, as the system does a solid job of recognizing every little change in pitch, even the slightest bit of vibrato. Definitely a solid effort by Sony London.
All in all the list of songs tells the tale. If you like what you see, Singstar Pop Vol 2. is worth your money. If not, consider the other Singstar options, which include Singstar 90s, Singstar Rocks, Singstar Amped (more rock), Singstar 80s, or the upcoming Legends and Country release. If you're in Europe, you've got a plethora of other Singstar choices that us Americans haven't seen. If you own a PlayStation 3, I highly suggest picking up Singstar for the PS3, as it's also upgradeable with song purchases via PSN.
9/25/2008 Arnold Katayev