SingStar was one of those games we’d never heard about until a couple of years ago, even though the karaoke-style game had been a big hit in Europe for quite some time. In the United States, young professionals and college students may hover around karaoke machines when drunk or on a dare, but to sing along with a song at home? That sort of thing was reserved for the shower, or maybe when pseudo-rockin’ with your eight-year-old niece.
Turns out, the SingStar craze picked up in America where it left off overseas, succeeding to such a degree with each of its PS2 iterations/expansions that Sony has now brought SingStar to the PlayStation 3. The irony of its PS3 appearance, though, is that the people looking forward to SingStar are the same ones who’ve played this same basic game three or four times now, just with different songs, and are for all intents and purposes going to be experiencing the same thing. SingStar is a well-produced, entertaining and high-quality karaoke game, but it still boils down to the same basic karaoke formula, just with 1080p graphics and (very cool) support for the PlayStation Eye. Is that worth $60 for the mic package or $40 for the game-only SKU? Depends on how much you like karaoke.
The core songlist in SingStar PS3 is 30 songs deep, less than the tracklist in Guitar Hero 3 but more than you’d find in your run-of-the-mill weekend karaoke rental. Even better, each of the songs includes an accompanying music video that plays in the background while the words and pitch-indicating bar run by in the foreground. This is a nice touch for gamers with a sense of nostalgia, but I’ve got to say, it can be downright disturbing to see some of the fashion faux paus in the old video clips. Granted, my own sense of fashion can be questionable at times as well, and never is that more apparent than when using the PlayStation Eye to capture video clips of myself rocking or failing miserably.
These video clips can be uploaded online in 20-second “highlight reels,” as can audio snippets of your incredible (or in my case, incredibly bad) renditions of anything from U2 or The Cardigans. Like Guitar Hero tracking your ability to hitting notes with a button press, SingStar PS3 tracks the number of notes you hit vocally, which can be an incredibly humbling experience, while a beat meter grades your ability to time words correctly in rapping portions. Lord help you if you don’t have any sense of rhythm.
Fortunately, even if you have no rhythm, the chances of your fellow players having no sense of rhythm are also pretty high, so you’ll get a kick out of the “Pass the Mic” mode, which pits teams of four players compete for the highest score. You can also face off against a friend individually or engage in several other competitive modes that involve time-based quality competitions or high-score ones. These competitive aspects are always the most compelling part about rhythm-based games, and this karaoke-based game is no different. Especially when there are just 30 core songs from which to choose.
Now, that’s not to say SingStar PS3 has no songs available. Quite the contrary, there are more than 200 individual tracks available for download, which is a hefty number, but each of them carries an equally hefty fee of $1.50 per song. Considering the songs can’t be ported to an iPod, Zune or MP3 player, that’s an awful lot of dough to plunk down for an in-game track, even if you are planning to play the game often with friends.
Ultimately, that “friends” component is the biggest selling point for SingStar PS3, as this is the first game in the series with online functionality (the aforementioned multimedia sharing and ability to rate each clip). If you’re looking for online karaoke, SingStar PS3 is your game. However, if you’ve already dumped a hefty chunk of change into songs for the PS2 versions, or if you’re not likely to go online with your own clips or to view others’, you’re just as good sticking with what you already own. With its online support, multimedia excellence and intuitive presentation, SingStar PS3 truly is the ultimate SingStar — for those who don’t already own a copy.
- Score: 8.3
- SingStar has good karaoke and non-multiplayer online functionality, but it enters a crowded field and is really just “more of the same.” Sure, it’s a good same, but karaoke is karaoke.
— Jonas Allen