Platform: PlayStation 2
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment London
No. of Players: 1-8
Memory Card Space: 575KB
EyeToy USB Camera Compatible
SingStar Microphones and USB Converter Required
By now my SingStar reviews are starting to look the same. This is mainly due to the fact not much has changed since the franchise first arrived on the scene a few years ago. Other than the set list SingStar games for the PlayStation 2 console have not strayed from the original formula which made the games so popular. The same holds true for SingStar Legends, Sony’s latest instalment of the SingStar franchise on the PS2. This most recent release offers up a track list featuring some of the greatest artists of all time, but at the end of the day SingStar Legends is much of the ‘same old’.
For those of you completely unfamiliar with SingStar games, they are not your typical animated videogame. Rather they are essentially karaoke games with the artist’s music video playing the background while the words and your score is overlaid on the screen as well. Considering the game is a karaoke game there is not much I can say about the visuals. But what I can say is that the graphics in SingStar Legends are not bad at all considering it is a PS2 game. It's nothing incredibly stunning but it manages to get the job done.
The bulk of the gameplay requires you to sing along to a song while the music video plays in the background. As the music video plays, horizontal bars are displayed across the screen which gauges your pitch while the lyrics of the song are displayed at the bottom of the screen in typical scrolling karaoke fashion. The videos are displayed in standard definition which comes as no surprise as it is a PS2 game. They can certainly appear fuzzy at times but again this was no surprise, however overall the bars and the lyrics displayed on the screen are mostly clear, easy to read, and do not distract from the music videos.
The menus and presentation of the game is also decent and stays true to the SingStar franchise. SingStar Legends’ menus are easy to navigate and don’t look too bad. They don’t look nearly as good as SingStar Vol. 1 or the recently released SingStar Vol. 2 which are both PS3 titles, nevertheless they do the job. Once you move past the main menu and jump into the song selection area you are greeted with a slick menu system for selecting your music. The album covers are displayed as you flip through the available selections and you get a preview to the video before you make your choice. All in all SingStar Legends scores decent marks visually. That being said, the overall look of the game does appear dated and I have to wonder when the developers will focus on the next-gen SingStar games and put the PS2 ones to rest.
In my view audio is arguably the most important aspect of a karaoke or music/rhythm game. Fortunately SingStar Legends delivers in this area. All the songs and music videos are master tracks which gives the game instant credibility and authenticity. Nothing irritates more than when I am playing a music based game and some cover band is playing or singing one of my favorite artist’s songs. Sure, most of the cover bands sound good in these instances, but not all the tracks have been the real deal in past music game (I am looking at you Rock Band and Guitar Hero). SingStar Legends features all original artists and the video's which made them so popular. The songs themselves all sound terrific in surround sound too. It was great to sing along to songs like Roxanne (The Police) and Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash).
As noted in all of my past SingStar reviews the microphones are also very good quality. There is no delay in hearing my voice in SingStar Legends as it appears the microphones are calibrated to perfection. Believe me; your voice comes through loud and clear so if your voice makes the next door neighbour dogs howl, consider yourself forewarned.
The other in-game sounds such as the background tunes which play when you are in the menus all sound decent. Overall, I have no complaints with the sound aspects of the game as no glaring deficiencies stand out in this area.
No matter how many times I review a SingStar title I always know there will be a gamer or two who hasn’t played any of the titles in the series. So as per usual, I will start with describing the game’s style.
SingStar Legends is essentially a karaoke game. You sing along with music in order to score points. Users interface with the PS2 via the SingStar USB microphones. If you don’t have the microphones from a previous edition of the franchise you can get the game with the two microphones and the USB adapter. SingStar games in general, Legends included, does not measure how well you know the lyrics of a song. Instead it uses a system which gauges your pitch similar to Rock Band or the recently released Guitar Hero World Tour. The pitch that you are required to sing is displayed via horizontal bars and these bars correspond with the lyrics of the song. For gameplay sake your pitch is compared to the pitch of the actual artist(s) singing and the better your singing abilities the better your score is (e.g. the better your pitch and timing). It is really that simple.
The game comes with 30 tracks out of the box which is the SingStar standard. This is where my first concern surfaces. Simply put, 30 tracks are not enough in my view. When games such as Guitar Hero World Tour and Rock Band 2 come with well over 80 tracks, 30 just seems way to short of a track list. As I usually do with any SingStar game I review, I take it back to my home office for me and the wife to try out as she loves these types of games. And as per usual it only took us a couple of hours to try nearly all the songs. Ideally I would have liked to have seen the playlist doubled to somewhere around 60 songs. Unfortunately SingStar Legends falls prey to the same fate as other PS2 SingStar titles: it does not feature an online component for DLC. So once you purchase SingStar Legends you are stuck with the 30 songs on the disc as there is now way to download anymore.
For those of you wondering, the game arrives out of the box with the following track list:
Barry White - You're the First, The Last, My Everything
Biz Markie - Just A Friend
Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Bonnie Tyler - Total Eclipse Of The Heart
David Bowie - Life On Mars?
Dusty Springfield - Son Of A Preacher Man
Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Let's Call The Whole Thing Off
Elton John - I'm Still Standing
Elvis Presley - Blue Suede Shoes
Grateful Dead - Touch Of Grey
The Jackson 5 - I Want You Back
James Brown - I Got You (I Feel Good)
John Lennon - Imagine
Johnny Cash - Ring Of Fire
Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
Madonna - Papa Don't Preach
Marvin Gaye - What's Goin On?
Michael McDonald - I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)
The Monkees - Daydream Believer
Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit
Patsy Cline - Crazy
The Police - Roxanne
Ray Charles - Hit The Road Jack
The Righteous Brothers - Unchained Melody
The Rolling Stones - Sympathy For The Devil
Sam Cooke - Wonderful World
The Smiths - This Charming Man
Tina Turner - Whats Love Got To Do With It?
Tom Jones - What's New Pussycat
Whitney Houston - I'm Your Baby Tonight
I am not quite sure who ever determined Biz Markie was a legend, but he seems to be the only artist that really does not belong in a legends game. The set list is okay but it is certainly not the best we have seen from the franchise. My mother would likely appreciate the set list more than I would. Don’t get me wrong here, there are some great artists, but I just don’t have the urge to sing along to Madonna, Marvin Gaye or Bonnie Tyler anytime soon. The songs range from the 60’s to early 90’s. While many of the artists are legendary the songs are not always the artist’s number one seller. Granted some of the tunes would be great to sing at an actual karaoke party, however the set list does seem somewhat shallow.
SingStar Legends features the regular variety of modes included in past SingStar games. You can sing solo or duet and you can also sing freestyle where you don’t have to worry about scores or hitting the right pitch. For those competitive singers you can once again sing in battle mode where you go head to head against another opponent. And as per usual, you can play with up to eight players and organize all of singers into a Party Mode. This mode features games such as Pass the Mic (game based on rounds where you are presented with different singing challenges) and other customizable team games.
As I have stated in many of my past SingStar reviews for the PS2, I am once again disappointed that there is no single player mode similar to what we have seen with the Rock Band or the Guitar Hero franchises. Granted, SingStar and these two band games are distinctly different and I did like the fact I could play any of the 30 songs right from the get go. That being said, a single player store mode or some sort of mode featuring some unlockable content would have given me some good incentive to play on my own, try to get better, and sing all the 30 songs.
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