29 Jun, 2008

SingStar Vol. 2 Review

PS3 Review | Take 2.
When SingStar was finally released for the PlayStation 3 late last year we were quite pleased with the game. Sure some features had been removed and the wireless microphones hadn't been released, but there were promises of hundreds of songs and eventually wireless microphones would come, right? Well here we are six months later and Sony has released the disc based, imaginatively titled Singstar Vol. 2; so is the experience still just as enjoyable or are we beginning to tire of making ourselves look like fools?

SingStar Vol. 2 comes bundled with two USB microphones and a copy of the game on Blu Ray disc. If you've purchased the microphones previously then there is no need to purchase the bundle pack and the PlayStation 2 microphones will work on the PlayStation 3. There are still no wireless microphones and while we're told to keep expecting them the wireless Buzz! buzzers will be out in a few weeks time and they were announced after SingStar for the PlayStation 3, so we're starting to believe we'll never sing wirelessly.

I think we suppressed this video.

I think we suppressed this video.
Rather than focus on a genre or era of music SingStar Vol. 2 just throws together thirty songs. The full tracklist can be found below and is rather good quality, but there are some songs on there we have never heard of. The game hasn't been localised at all for Australia either, which is a shame. Overall though most people will find something to like in the tracklist, even if our favourite song, Eminem's Without Me, has to be sung with the (still remarkably poor) rap meter. The full tracklist is below

  • Aerosmith - “Dude Looks Like A Lady”
  • Blur - “Country House”
  • Bobby Brown - “My Perogative”
  • Eminem - “Without Me”
  • George Michael - “Freedom 90″
  • Gorillaz - “Dare”
  • Gossip - “Standing in the Way of Control”
  • Hot Chocolate - “You Sexy Thing”
  • Kaiser Chiefs - “Ruby”
  • Kool & The Gang - “Celebration”
  • Joe Cocker - “Summer In The City”
  • Maximo Park - “Our Velocity”
  • Morrissey - “Suedehead”
  • Nirvana - “Lithium”
  • Panic! At The Disco - “But It’s Better If You Do”
  • Paul McCartney & the Frog Chorus - “We All Stand Together”
  • Pulp - “Common People”
  • Radiohead - “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”
  • Shakespears Sister - “Stay”
  • Spandau Ballet - “True”
  • Suede - “Metal Mickey”
  • The Cure - “Pictures of You”
  • The Killers - “When You Were Young”
  • The Libertines - “Can’t Stand Me Now”
  • The Offspring - “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)”
  • The Police - “Don’t Stand So Close To Me”
  • The Proclaimers - “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”
  • Tom Jones with Mousse T - “Sexbomb”
  • Tone Loc - “Funky Cold Medina”
  • Young MC - “Bust A Move”

SingStar fanatics will quickly realise the single player options are similar to those found in the PlayStation 2 versions of the game. You can sing alone, or if you have a friend at home then you can battle or take part in a duet and sing with several players in 'pass the mic'. Multiplayer has always been a key focus for Singstar and offline it is much more enjoyable singing with a friend than singing by yourself, but it is really the online options which distinguish the PlayStation 3 version of SingStar from its predecessors. First up, the disappointing news, you cannot sing against other players around the world online. We can imagine that setting up online play with other singers across the world could have been quite a challenge, but there is still plenty to the online experience.

The Gorillaz....

The Gorillaz....
When you first jump on the interwebs you'll then see your online home, where you can enter the SingStore, go to My SingStar Online or just see some headlines, which notify players of when there are new songs and feature the latest news. In the SingStore you can download content for Singstar. First up, one of the more useless downloadable options is the wallpaper, for $2.45 you can download new wallpaper, but considering SingStar comes with several other decent options we're puzzled why Sony would think people would want to purchase this.

But of course, music downloads are the main feature. There are eleven categories in total including Rock, Pop, RnB etc. There is also an option for song packs, indicating that packs of ten songs may be available at a cheaper rate, but this has yet to be confirmed. When selecting a category the songs are listed in alphabetical order, with cover art for each song on display, and when selecting a song you will see a short preview for the song, as well as the file size, cost and whether the content is in standard definition or high definition. To purchase the song you simply have to add the song to your shopping cart, enter your credit card details and prepare to hear your wallet cry. Like the rest of SingStar, purchasing songs is simple. There is no minimum number of songs to purchase, and after you've bought a song it is there on your hard drive to be sung any time in single player or multiplayer.

The other highlight is 'My SingStar Online'. Everyone signed on has a profile which identifies your highest score. For your profile you can edit your image , edit your nationality, add a comment and choose your favourite artist and song. SingStar is compatible with the PlayStation Eye camera, so you can also record your audio, take pictures and see video of yourself singing, and all of this content can be uploaded online for friends and strangers to see. If you're more of a browser, you can view other people's audio, video and snapshots and even rate the content. Those who are afraid they will see R rated images will be pleased to know there is a report option too. You can participate in polls, search online for players, once you've found a player you can also add them to a friends list so you can keep an eye on their top scores. The whole thing is Sony's way of adding social interaction into SingStar and it works very well.

There have been a few other tweaks made to the interface which are designed to make the game even easier to navigate as your library fills up with hundreds of downloaded songs. Aside from just scrolling through the songs individually the R1 and R2 buttons are used to scroll through the artists alphabetically. There is also a help button, triggered with the L1 button, and it provides some simple instructions on just about everything. Finally, there are some short cut buttons, so rather than getting lost in the menus you can quickly jump to your media gallery or hop to the SingStore. Overall it's an easy interface to navigate and one that makes the game end up feeling very polished. The lack of any noticeable loading times simply adds the final icing to the cake.

The videos look pretty good in HD.

The videos look pretty good in HD.
Singstar Vol. 2 adds in a new harmony mode. In certain songs certain players will sing songs at different times, with the players eventually coming together to sing together. It's a decent addition, but rather underutilised. The game also supports remote play, so you can use the PSP to purchase songs, if you simply cannot wait to get home and download new songs.

We can't help but feel that Sony has underdelivered when it comes to the SingStore. Tracks are now being released on a fortnightly basis, but we still haven't gotten full albums and a lot of the songs are recycled from the original SingStar discs. The latest songs from artists that Sony have supported in the past, such as Britney Spears and The Pussycat Dolls are nowhere to be seen and Studio London appears to be relying on nostalgia to drive purchases. At the time of writing there are about 200 songs on the SingStore, with another sixty available if you include the disc based versions and while that is adequate, we definitely would like to see more.

SingStar Vol. 2 is a decent game and a worthy addition to any PlayStation 3 owner's library. It's not the type of game you'll play through in a few days, but you will keep dragging the game out over time and the more of these games you purchase the larger your song library will get.

Please note that certain content from this review has been reused, as Singstar Vol. 2 is identical in some parts to the first Singstar.
The Score
SingStar Vol. 2 is a great addition to any PlayStation 3 owner's library. It's like a party in a box.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related SingStar Vol. 2 Content

Tracklist for SingStar Volume 2 emerges
26 May, 2008 Set for release on June 19th.
Singstar Party Hits Review
22 May, 2008 Get the party started, again.
Singstar Review
07 Dec, 2007 Turning your PlayStation 3 into the best karaoke machine ever.
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  19/06/2008 (Confirmed)
Standard Retail Price:
  $59.95 AU
  Sony Computer Entertainment
Year Made:

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