SingStar Country 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's no doubt in my mind that there are still a number of SingStar games to look forward to following the release of SingStar Legends and Country. 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.
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 close to 20 titles in a brief four years! Just about half of those releases 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 Vol. 2 and PS2's SingStar Pop Vol. 2 are the most recent games 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 Country, and as you can tell, this one's all about good ol' North American country music.
So what do we have here? A SingStar game that's exclusive to the United States? Why, yes! Seeing as how the whole country scene isn't exactly happening overseas, it was kind of a gimme that only we'd be getting this wasn't it? Unfortunately for me, country isn't my thing either, so I'm not exactly sure what I'm reviewing here. Regardless, my objectivity is well intact, and me feeling like a foreigner playing this game does not affect the score in any way.
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. SingStar Country boasts a collection of 30 tracks, the quality of which I cannot critique...it simply isn't my field (nor is it Ben's). But, the game does cover a plethora of notable artists such as Alan Jackson, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelsom, Brad Paisley, Faith Hill, Jewel, Jessica Simpson, Gretchen Wilson, Keith Urban, Kenny Chesney and others. The entire soundtrack looks like this:
Alan Jackson - "Chattahoochee"
Alan Jackson - "Good Time"
Big & Rich - "Save A Horse (Ride a Cowboy)"
Blake Shelton - "Home"
Brad Paisley - "Online"
Brooks & Dunn - "Boot Scootin' Boogie"
Brooks & Dunn w/ Reba McEntire - "If You See Him/If You See Her"
Bucky Covington - "It's Good To Be Us"
Faith Hill - "Red Umbrella"
Gretchen Wilson - "Red Neck Woman"
Jessica Simpson - "Come on Over"
Jewel - "Stronger Woman"
Johnny Cash - "A Boy Named Sue"
Johnny Cash - "I Walk the Line"
Josh Turner - "Another Try"
Keith Urban - "Days Go By"
Kellie Pickler - "Red High Heels"
Kenny Chesney - "Big Star"
Lady Antebellum - "Love Don't Live Here"
Martina McBride - "A Broken Wing"
Miranda Lambert - "Kerosene"
Montgomery Gentry - "My Town"
Montgomery Gentry - "What Do Ya Think About That?"
Rascall Flats - "Bless the Broken Road"
Sara Evans - "Born to Fly"
Taylor Swift - "Our Song"
Terri Clark - "Girls Lie Too"
Trace Adkins - "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk"
Trace Adkins - "You're Gonna Miss This"
Willie Nelson - "Pancho and Lefty"
Me personally, the only songs I actually know are the two Johnny Cash tracks. That's about it. 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 Country'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, Rock Band 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 Country is worth your money. If not, consider the other Singstar options, which include Singstar 90s, SingStar Legends, Singstar Rocks, Singstar Amped (more rock), Singstar 80s, SingStar Pop Vol. 2, and others. 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 a copy of Singstar PS3, as it's upgradeable with song purchases via PSN.
10/30/2008 Arnold Katayev