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SingStar Vol. 2

 

SingStar Vol. 2

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: PS3
Category: Miscellaneous
 
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Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Sony Computer Entertainment

Features

No. of Players: 1-8
Hard Disk Space Required: 8763KB
Supported HD Video Output: 720p, 1080i, 1080p
Online Broadband Required
Playstation Network Compatible
EyeToy USB Camera Compatible

The SingStar franchise is back on the PlayStation 3 console with SingStar Vol. 2. Having reviewed seven SingStar games in the past year (six on the PS2), I think I had had my fill of SingStar games to last me a lifetime. Not because they are bad games but rather the franchise has become a little stale in recent months. That being said, I was looking forward to the next high definition instalment in the SingStar franchise. SingStar Vol. 1 contained a great set list and I enjoyed the overall presentation of the game. Based on the success of volume one I had some high expectations for volume two. I was hoping for an even better set list, more songs out of the box, and an even slicker interface. Sadly, SingStar Vol. 2 did not live up to my expectations.

Graphics

Overall, I was somewhat disappointed with the overall visuals in the game. Granted, SingStar is not your typical video game so I won’t be comparing this game to Gears of War 2 anytime soon. Being a music based karaoke game, we are not going to put a lot of weight on the games overall look. Nevertheless, volume two certainly presents and looks much better than the PS2 versions of the and is on par with Vol. 1. My main issues rest with some of the poor quality and shabby look of some of the music videos. Young MC’s “Bust a Move” video is an eye sore and Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” doesn’t look that much better. Yes, I know they are older videos however I just expected them to be re-mastered or cleaned up a little. Heck, maybe if they look that bad why put them on the game at all? I am sorry but in this day of high definition gaming, I can’t bare looking at standard definition videos on a next generation console.

Aside from some of the ugly looking music videos, the rest of SingStar Vol. 2 delivers. First off the presentation of the game is very good. SingStar's menus are easy to navigate and they do look fantastic. You can immediately tell you are playing a PS3 game when navigating in the menus as they maintain that signature PS3 look. The online interface is equally as pleasing. Once you move past the main menu and jump into the song selection area, you are once again greeted with a slick looking song selection area. The album covers are displayed as you flip through your selections and you get a preview to the video before you make your selection. When heading online you can also preview the video before you make a purchase. All in all SingStar Vol. 2 scores decent marks visually but the standard definition videos really hold this game back.

Sound

In a karaoke or music/rhythm game the sound is arguably the most important aspect. Fortunately, SingStar Vol. 2 delivers in this department as well. All the songs and music video's are master tracks which gives the game instant credibility and authenticity. Nothing grates me more than when I am playing any music based videogame and some cover band is playing my favorite song(s). Sure the music sounds good but it is not the real deal. SingStar features all original artists and the videos which made the bands/singers so popular. The songs themselves all sound terrific in 5.1 surround sound. It was great to listen to some of those tracks I had not heard in years such as The Cure’s “Picture of You” and Radiohead’s “Street Spirit”.

The microphones are also very good quality. It appears the mics are calibrated to perfection as your voice comes through loud and clear. I found there was no lag or delay and your voice volume is adjustable as well. The latter is handy if you are having some pitch problems and cannot sing a song particularly well. You can turn the volume on the microphones down without having to turn down the music in the game. 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 aspect of the game as no glaring deficiencies stand out in this area.

Gameplay

If you are one of the few who have not yet played a SingStar game, it is essentially a karaoke game which features a scoring system and the artist's music video playing in the background. Similar to the vocals in game like Rock Band or Guitar Hero World Tour, SingStar for the PS3 has you sing along with music in order to score points. Users interface with the PS3 via the SingStar USB microphones. If you do not have the microphones from a previous edition of the franchise you can get the game with the two microphones and the USB adapater. The SingStar franchise does not measure how well you know the lyrics but rather uses a system which gauges your pitch (again similar to Rock Band). The pitch you are required to sing is displayed on horizontal bars and these bars correspond with the lyrics of the song. Your pitch is compared to the pitch of the artist(s) singing the song. The better your singing abilities (e.g. the better your pitch and timing) the better you score.

SingStar Vol. 2 comes with 30 tracks out of the box which is the SingStar franchise standard. Here is where my first major concern surfaces. Simply put, 30 tracks are not enough out of the box in my view. When games such as Rock Band or Guitar Hero World Tour come with over 80 tracks, 30 just seems way to few. It only took my wife and me a couple of hours to try nearly all the songs. Ideally I would have liked to have seen the playlist doubled to 60. Of course the game also features a slew of downloadable tracks via the PS Network, but these come at a cost. Unfortunately I feel too much emphasis is placed on the user spending a $1.49 per song from the SingStar store.

For those of you wondering, the game arrives out of the box with the following track list:

Aerosmith – Dude (Looks Like A Lady)
Bad English – When I See You Smile
Bobby Brown – My Prerogative
Boys Like Girls – Hero/Heroine
The Bravery – Believe
The Cure – Pictures of You
Elton John & Kiki Dee – Don’t Go breaking My Heart
Eminem – Without Me
Gavin DeGraw – In Love With A Girl
Gnarls Barkley – Run (I’m A Natural Disaster)
Gold Frapp – Happiness
The Killers – When You Were Young
Lit – Miserable
The Mamas & The Papas – California Dreamin'
Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten
The Offspring – Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)
Panic! At The Disco – Nine In The Afternoon
Paramore – CrushCrushCrush
Phantom Planet – California
Pink – Just Like A Pill
The Police – Don’t Stand So Close To Me
The Proclaimers – I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)
Radiohead – Street Spirit
Rise Against – Prayer Of The Refugee
Sara Bareilles – Love Song
The Shins – New Slang
Tone Loc - Funky Cold Medina
Weezer – Beverly Hills
Yael Naim – New Soul
Young M.C. – Bust A Move

Overall this is not a bad set list. Granted, it's hard to please everyone but clearly the developers had a certain target audience in mind and stuck with it. Kids under the age of 12 and adults over the age of 40 will likely have no use for this game. SingStar does not feature many golden oldies nor does it feature any Hanna Montana songs. My 6-year old daughter loves to sing and dance, but unfortunately SingStar for the PS3 does not feature any songs for her age group or even those songs for kids a bit older than her. At the end of the day, it is a good set list aiming to please a wide range of people. Nevertheless more songs out of the box or some free downloadable tracks could assist in reaching a wider audience.

One of the great features of Singstar for the PS3 is the online interface. In addition to the ever expanding list of downloadable content (all available in SD thus far), SingStar features an online community component. The idea is similar to YouTube as you can upload photos and videos of your performance onto the SingStar online network. This is truly a fabulous idea and the developers get full marks for making this a feature. You can spend hours just watching other performances and it is pretty fun to do so. You can use the PlayStation Eye to upload your photos or videos or you can use any other compatible USB camera. In the online community you can also rate each others performances and leave comments on other people's profiles. All in all, it's a great feature and gives the game some awesome replay value.

Another disappointing aspect of the game is the fact there is no single player mode similar to what we have seen with Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises. Granted they are distinctly different games and I did like the fact I could play any of the 30 songs right for the get go in SingStar. Nevertheless, a single player store mode or some sore of other mode featuring some unlockable content would have given me some good reason to play on my own, try to get better and sing all the 30 songs. A SingStar tour mode would have made the game near perfect in my opinion.


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