We asked Eidos to give us the skinny and they did us one better--they sent over an unfinished version of the game to play with. From what we could play, we came away very entertained.
The menus and options are setup much the same as those in Konami's Karaoke Revolution. Solo play options include practice and story. Multiplayer options include competition, co-op, party, and battle. The main difference between the various mutliplayer modes is the scoring setup that each one uses. In the competition mode, players try to earn the best score. In the co-op mode, two players work together by passing the mic around to earn a combined score. The party mode lets multiple players try to outdo each other, with the game doing the scoring, while the battle mode lets human players decide the winner by using the controller to cast votes. One hella sweet feature of the battle mode is the "freestyle option," which lets players freestyle their own lyrics over a selection of music.
The American Idol style story mode seems to be pretty involved. Players start out as a rookie rapper performing in small bar and house party venues and try to work their way up to performances in major venues such as dance halls and stadiums--and even MTV's Total Request Live. Celebrities, such as Jadakiss, DJ Green Lantern, and Sway, make appearances in the story mode. Here's the cool part: you can spend the cash you earn in the story mode to buy new outfits, cars, and boats for your character, as well as a crib that you can also fill with furniture and swag. The story mode includes 10 stock characters, but there's also a custom character option that allows you to put together your own hip-hop star from thousands of body, face, and clothing possibilities.
Atmospherically, the game recreates the look and feel of a live performance. On the stage, you can see your chosen character rapping into the mic and jigging around with his hip-hop dance moves, while his DJ and back-up entourage do their stuff right behind him. Strobe lights, video cutaways, and ever-changing camera angles lend a little music-video flare to the whole thing. Throughout it all, in front of the stage, a rowdy live audience reacts to your skill on the mic and expresses their approval or disapproval by cheering, booing, and yelling supportive or critical comments. You can adjust the volume level of the music and lyrics independently, which gives you the option of drowning out your own tone-deaf voice with the artist's, singing along with the original lyrics at regular volume, or cutting out the original artist entirely and putting your own voice out front and center.
The process of "playing" is as simple as picking up the microphone and singing (rapping?) into it; so simple, in fact, that we predict that this will be one of those games that you'll be able to cajole your non-gamer friends into trying. As the track plays, the current lyrics appear in two lines at the bottom of the screen. The background behind the lyrics functions as a meter, which fills up to let you know when to sing the lyrics and at what speed. The goal is to say the lyrics when the edge of the meter passes through the corresponding words. You earn points for rapping words and verses on time. Another meter going up the right side of the screen fills up as you rap more and more of the track correctly. Each time you fill it up a level, your score multiplier increases.
We're not sure how the voice recognition works, and Eidos certainly isn't tellin', but from what we've played, it doesn't look like pitch, tone, or key matter one bit. You can spit out the lyrics to "Posse on Broadway" like a squished frog and still rack up thousands of points. Timing seems to be the main criteria for success. Much like Konami's Karaoke Revolution games, you can get away with saying gibberish words in place of the actual lyrics so long as you’re speaking when you’re supposed to. That was our experience with the preview version we received anyway.
Eidos has not released a full listing of the tracks that will be in the game, and our preview build didn't include a full selection, but here are the tracks that we know for sure will be in the final version:
That's a pretty dope set of tracks. We wondered about the "as made popular by" distinction when Eidos first started sending around PR promos for the game. From what we can tell by listening to some of the tracks, Eidos was unable to use the actual original tracks for the game, and instead opted to remake them using studio DJ's and MC's. For the record, Konami does the same thing with their Karaoke Revolution games. Many of the remakes are near-exact copies of the originals, some are close enough to be forgiven, and others are downright broken. Overall, the remade tracks won't bother most people who simply want to buy a rap-karaoke game, but this news is going to bug some folks who absolutely prefer the real deal Holyfield (Cuz all you hookaz and ho'z know how I feel. Rollin' down the street, smoking endo, sippin' on Gin and Juice. With my mind on my money and my money on my mind).
We’ll have a full review of Get On Da Mic after it ships. Unless Eidos changes the release date again, Get On Da Mic for the PlayStation 2 should be in stores the week of October 5th. Two versions of the game will be available--one without a microphone, for $39.99, and another with a microphone, for $59.99.
10/1/2004 Frank Provo