With a number of American releases under its belt, the Singstar franchise is trying to penetrate the American gaming market the same way it has the European gaming market. After getting numerous PlayStation 2 iterations, our PlayStation 3 entry of Singstar has finally arrived, and I couldn't be any happier. Here, the same rules apply as the previous games, but the differences lie in the abilities of the PS3's network,
I've always preferred games with legitimate, licensed tracks, as opposed to covers - one of the reasons why I couldn't appreciate Guitar Hero for a while, as well as Konami's Karaoke Revolution games. So naturally, I've taken a liking to the series because not only does it feature licensed music, but also their music video playing in the background to go along with it.
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 Pass-the-Mic mode, or a two-player Duet mode. 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 pitch precision 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. It must be said that the American version of Singstar for PS3 boasts a much different soundtrack as opposed to the U.K. version. Unlike other, non-genre specific, Singstar games, I found myself loving practically every single song on the American PS3 version. While I'm not a fan of Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, New Found Glory, Ne-Yo, Pussycat Dolls, and Andre 3000's "Hey Ya!" gets on my nerves, the vast majority of the list I can certainly agree with.
The entire soundtrack looks like this:
- Amy Winehouse "Back to Black"
- Beck "Loser"
- Blind Melon "No Rain"
- Blink 182 "All the Small Things"
- Britney Spears "Toxic"
- The Cardigans "Lovefool"
- Coldplay "Clocks"
- Corinne Bailey Rae "Put Your Records On"
- Dave Matthews Band "Crash Into Me"
- David Bowie "Let's Dance"
- Faith No More "Epic"
- Franz Ferdinand "Do You Want To?"
- Jane's Addiction "Been Caught Stealing"
- The Killers "Mr. Brightside"
- New Found Glory "My Friends Over You"
- Ne-Yo "So Sick"
- OutKast "Hey Ya!"
- Pixies "Here Comes Your Man"
- Pussycat Dolls "Beep"
- Radiohead "No Surprises"
- The Ramones "I Wanna Be Sedated"
- R.E.M. "Losing My Religion"
- The Rolling Stones "Sympathy for the Devil"
- Scissor Sisters "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'"
- Smashing Pumpkins "Today"
- U2 "Beautiful Day"
- Warrant "Cherry Pie"
- Weezer "Buddy Holly"
- Wolfmother "Love Train"
And yes, even though most men wouldn't be caught dead singing Britney Spears' "Toxic" or The Cardigans' "Lovefool", both are great songs in their own right. To me, the inclusion of Weezer, Wolfmother, Smashing Pumpkins, David Bowie, Scissor Sisters, Radiohead, Coldplay, The Killers, Beck, and Franz Ferdinand make this Singstar game one of my favorites. Older classics such as The Ramones, Warrant, and the Rolling Stones make for some good times, too. All in all, aside from the six artists that I'm not fond of, the rest of the soundtrack is great.
Then there's the entire online community, which serves to heighten the entire experience considerably. First, there's the My Singstar Online social network that allows user generated content to be uploaded, such as video, audio, and pictures of your performances. For the visual uploads, you'll need an EyeToy or PlayStation Eye to capture with - unfortunately I'm not sure if other USB cameras are compatible. When you aren't watching others, or uploading your own performances, you can go to the SingStore and buy additional tracks to play. Each song comes complete with a video, as well. Sony will be adding 15-25 songs every month, keeping the experience everlasting.
Even though I love what the game has to offer, ultimately, I am not the decider of what's right and wrong, so take a look at the list of songs above and decide for yourself if Singstar'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. My only complaint is the resolution of the music videos, they appear to be standard interlaced definition, which was forgivable on the PS2, but unusual for a PS3 game. Perhaps using HD videos in the game would mean Sony would have to use HD videos for the downloadable tracks, thus making each extra song a much larger file in size. But I'm not asking for 720p videos here, 480p would've done fine.
Other than visual quality, 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 for the PS3 is worth your money. With a dedicated storefront and social community, this particular Singstar game boasts improved value, even if you have to pay for the additional content. Fans of the rock genre should take a liking to Singstar more so than anyone else, as a vast majority of the tunes are from the genre - and with a damn good compilation, to boot. If this one's not your cup of tea, you're free to consider the PlayStation 2 Singstar alternatives, such as Singstar Pop, Singstar Rocks, Singstar Amped (more rock), and Singstar 80s. If you're in Europe, you've got a plethora of other Singstar choices that us Americans haven't seen. The bottom-line is that the Singstar franchises continues to kick ass, and the PS3's first entry, in particular, struck a good chord with me. I love it.
5/24/2008 Arnold Katayev