SingStar Volume 3

   30/11/2008 at 11:22       Jason       5 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
Roll Over Beethoven

There probably isn't a single gamer out there who isn't aware of the Singstar phenomena at some level. Most, if pushed, or drunk, could become interested enough in seeing what the fuss is about. It's simply one of the easiest games in the world to grasp, if not do well at - and, technically, it should appeal to anyone that owns a pair of ears. Who doesn't like songs, after all? I've honestly only met one person in my life that claimed they didn't like music. They were the single glummest, most soulless individual I've ever known. I mean, how do you not like music? It's not an issue of genre, or personal taste, it's simply music! Even Beethoven loved it... and he was deaf!

Sony's problem, of course, is that it is trying to put together an inticing selection of tunes from an impossibly broad spectrum. It's a thankless task, particularly when you consider their biggest rival is... themselves. (Don't worry, I'm about to explain that bit.)

Now That's What I Call...

...a fairly mediocre selection of tunes, actually. And here's where you really fall on your face when trying to review one of these games. Singstar is an absolutely flawless refinement of the karaoke craze. If you like it, you'll love it, and if you don't think you'll like it, chances are you'll soon fancy having a crack at it in your front room. The basic, private, premise of this was taken to the world stage when the original PS3 iteration (released almost twelve months ago) introduced an online forum. It was an obvious and brilliant progression. No longer were the armchair Sinatras limited to torturing their families and neighbours... now they could use the PS3's camera and film themselves in flagrante, and then put the whole sorry mess on the internet for their peers to rate. It's basically X-Factor sans the irksome Louis Walsh. Which can only be a good thing.

The great thing about this online functionality, of course, is that it also heralded the arrival of the SingStore - Sony's online shop which, much the same as the Rock Band and Guitar Hero franchises, allows the user to pick the individual tracks they'd like to download (for 99p each) and ruin. This service was intially slow to get going and provoked something of a backlash from the fans, but it now boasts an admirable selection of tunes that, so far, hasn't failed to get everyone in the room warbling when we throw a party. To date, I've blown about 150 on downloaded tracks alone - and I'm far from being the exception. It's an incredibly popular service, which makes you wonder why Sony insist on throwing out these grab-all discs (this being the fourth in a year, a twinned released with Singstar ABBA, reviewed elsewhere). If every two weeks there's going to be a new selection of songs (usually around a dozen), why blow money on this disc? Particularly when some of the songs from it will appear as downloads in the near future (if past experience is repeated).

Damned if I know. I mean, look at the tracklist:

Aerosmith - Cryin'
Amy McDonald - This is the Life
Barry Manilow - Copacabana
Coldplay - Viva La Vida
Communards - Never Can Say Goodbye (already available for download!)
David Bowie - Space Oddity
Deep Blue Something - Breakfast at Tiffany's
Dizzie Rascal - Dance Wiv Me
Fall Out Boy - This Ain't a Scene... (God forbid we get their one decent fucking track!)
Feargal Sharkey - A Good Heart
Fergie - Big Girls Don't Cry
Gwen Stefani - The Sweet Escape
Happy Mondays - Kinky Afro
Heaven 17 - Temptation
K D Lang - Constant Craving
Kate Bush - Babooshka
Leo Sayer - You Make Me Feel Like Dancing
Lionel Ritchie - All Night Long
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean (Officially impossible for a human male to sing. Not sure how Jacko did it.)
Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder - Ebony and Ivory (surely there are better duets to stick on the disc than this?!)
Queen - Killer Queen
Sara Beilles - Love Song (No, I don't know it either.)
Smashing Pumpkins - 1979
Take That - Could it be Magic? (No.)
Texas - Say What You Want (...better songs, cheers.)
The Ting Tings - Shut Up and Let Me Go (cough)
Timbaland featuring Keri Hilson - The Way I Are (sic)
Timbaland featuring One Republic - Apologize (sick)
Transvision Vamp - Baby I Don't Care (...and I wouldn't care if the sound didn't work with the vid... Ah, happy days of youth)
Vampire Weekend - Oxford Comma (you know, for the kids, like.)

See, if you asked me, I'd say that was a piss poor collection of tracks. And that's what I'm reviewing... Sony's latest, loving compilation tape, pressed nervously into your hands. This is the third, non-themed disc, and for me the quality has dropped off with each release. But that's the problem, my musical tastes aren't yours. You may look at that list and love it. Fair play. My advice is to look at the track list of each disc and see which one takes your fancy. Buy that, download everything else you like the look of from the store.

LIPS-smackingly good

So, forgetting the tracklist, because you will simply build your own over time, we are left to review the concept of the game. For me, Singstar is a ten out of ten experience. No question. It's the best party game ever invented (that doesn't involve swapping car keys, anyway), and all the regular features of the previous PS3 discs are here too. You can sing solo, in a harmonized duet, battle an opponent to score the most points. The game can be balanced by making the scoring policy for each mic more liberal, which means younger kids (and me) have a chance against decent singers. There are also options to calibrate the audio with your HDTV, something that was patched into the original version a few months ago. You can save an audio recording of your crimes to the hard disc, or craft a video or take pictures of yourself with a PS3 Eye (not included). All of this can be uploaded to Sony's server, should public ridicule be your thing.

So, a slightly redundant extension of a perfect party game, marked down only because I'm turning into a curmudgeon who fondly remembers "proper tunes".
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