Review: Singstar Vol.2

Singstar Vol. 2
PlayStation 3
Rated E for Everyone

April Carlson, Contributor/Gaming Angels

I love karaoke. The one thing that I love more than karaoke is video games. So, being able to do both at the same time is a dream come true.

SingStar coming to the PlayStation 3 was a great move, since the console is a lot more dynamic and powerful than its very successful predecessor, the PS2, and also boasts online capability.

SingStar Vol. 2 is a lot like every other PS3 SingStar game except for the songs. Most of the SingStar games feature around 30 songs, which is roughly the number of tracks you deal with here. With the Rock Band and Guitar Hero games featuring over 80 songs, one wonders if the makers of the SingStar games will ever take advantage of the Blu-ray disc’s extensive amount of storage capacity.

Once you get through a horrible intro video that might be giving you a glimpse into the future of your night, you are able to play immediately. There are several modes: Battle mode, where you can compete with a friend; Sing Solo, where you can be the star; Duet, where you and a friend can sing the songs together; Practice mode – where you can work on your skills; and Pass the Mic, a party game with seven different battle modes.

I started out with the Sing Solo mode and chose a song I knew – “Pictures of You” by The Cure. The original video plays in the background while the vocal pitch line laying over the video. The lyrics are listed at the bottom.

This separation is a little difficult if you are singing a song you have never heard, since you have to split your attention between the lyrics and the vocal line. All SingStar games are set this way, so if are going to continue to play them, you will just have to adjust to it.

A downside to the game is that if you sing early, you won’t see where your voice is on the screen until you are actually supposed to be singing. This means you may find yourself having to adjust halfway through the vocal line.

The game has great voice recognition, better than a lot of the karaoke games that are on the market today. The point of the game is to score a lot of points, so the better your pitch and timing, the more you will stay on the vocal line and the more points you will score. Since the scoring is only on pitch and timing, you can hum the melody and not even have to sing the words. There are three difficulty mode: easy, medium, and hard. Easy mode will be more forgiving with timing and pitch, where hard mode will be a lot more sensitive and be stingier on points. You can also choose the short or full version of the song to sing.

It seems difficult for a singing only game to survive in a world dominated by Rock Band and Guitar Hero of Rock Band, but believe it or not, some people just want to sing. Apart from having all the Rock Band and Guitar Hero games and peripherals, I also own a karaoke machine. The karaoke machine has been gathering dust since November 2007 when the first Rock Band came out. One thing that karaoke is missing is the visual and/or vocal cues that are present in video game karaoke games. This is one of the things that has boosted the popularity of video game karaoke – it’s a lot easier to attempt to sing a song you are less familiar with if you have the vocals playing in the background or lines that indicate where your pitch should be.

Another cool thing about SingStar is the SingStar Store, which can be accessed with the disc, a PlayStation ID and an Internet connection. There are currently about 500 songs available for download, most of which include the original video, for only $1.49. This is very helpful for someone like me, who will never be fully satisfied with the song list of the retail disc – except for SingStar 80’s, which I have for the PS2. From what I noticed, most of the songs in the store are also available on SingStar retail discs, although I did notice a few songs were missing.

You can store your videos, snapshots and audio playbacks. Video and snapshots require the Playstation Eye. You can add effects to your voice in audio playback and all of these can be stored on your PS3’s hard drive as well as uploaded to My SingStar Online, where you can create a profile and other users can watch or listen as well as rate and comment on your performance.

The game features no story mode and there is nothing to unlock. All of the songs are available to sing immediately, and there are also no trophies.

Personally, I thought the songs on the disc were weak. I literally only know about half of them but I was able to download a few songs from the SingStar Store. There were promises by Sony to regularly release songs, but this seems to have slowed down greatly. Hopefully, more songs will come out on the service since SingStar now has competition, with Microsoft releasing Lips late last year. In mid-December of 2008, SingStar got an update that would allow backwards compatibility with PS2 versions of the game. The update is automatically triggered when you insert the PS3 disc. Once that is done, you can switch discs seamlessly with literally the touch of a button.

Anyone who enjoys singing games will enjoy this series. There are a lot of titles currently out as well as many songs available for download in the SingStar Store. This, along with its backwards compatibility with PS2 SingStar games, makes for a solid investment. The wired mics are the same for both systems, so if you started out on the PS2, you don’t need to reinvest in the mics. Now all we need are cordless ones.

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