Friday, May 23, 2008

Review: SingStar

SingStar (2008)
Developer: SCEE London Studio
Platform: PlayStation 3
Purchase Date: 05/22/2008

Great choices of songs.

Sony has finally done it. First and foremost, they made me change my mind about SingStar being a second-rate copy of Karaoke Revolution. Secondly, they have further revolutionized the karaoke experience with SingStar's amazing online components. The mechanics of the game is still the same as it has always been before: it's a high-tech version of a karaoke machine where a pitch-bar is introduced on top of the typical lyrics shown on screen. Singing on pitch is rewarded via a scoring system. The game now allows for the original artist's vocal to be faded out, something that is sorely missing in the PlayStation 2 versions. As great as this feature is, you can still hear the faded vocals unfortunately.

The best music video out of the bunch.

The game comes with a list of 30 songs from a hodge-podge of different eras and genres. You can always find one or two songs to like from the default selection but the real winner here is the ability to download more songs online straight into the HDD from the SingStore. There are already 203 songs available for download and they cost $1.49 each. The songs include their own music videos that you can watch as you sing them. Sony is continually updating the song list, so this game is going to be your ultimate karaoke getaway for a long time to come.

More songs are coming our way!

There is also a free online community available that can be accessed directly from the game. This addition is absolutely brilliant. Players can create a SingStar profile and gain access to a plethora of screenshots, audio files, and video footages from players across the globe. With the help of the PlayStation Eye, photos and video footages are taken during certain segments of a player's performance and these can be uploaded to the online profile. Only a brief portion of video is recorded unfortunately even though the console records the entire vocal performance to be uploaded. Whether you choose to upload them is optional of course for the shy ones out there. If you ever miss going to a karaoke bar to hear amazing (or horrendous) singing from total strangers, that experience has now been nicely replicated here. Since the game was released in Europe late last year, there is already a large amount of content out there to be enjoyed. This is as fun as playing the game and it brings unlimited hours of entertainment. It is extremely easy to navigate through these contents - just think of it as a smaller version of YouTube or Myspace. You can leave comments on others' profiles, check out their high scores, rate their picture/video/audio files, and see their friends' profiles. There is a section of the community page that shows the highest ranked uploads and yes, you will discover that sometimes it is not about the singing but the silliness of it all. Just like the YouTube phenomenon, the crazier the antics, the better the ratings and you will be surprised that there are actually many crazy lunatics out there playing this game. But hey, all is well because it's all done in good fun.

From cool croons to manic loons. They are all here.

There are a number of things that made SingStar slightly flawed. The vocal reduction mentioned earlier could have been better implemented. The music videos are not presented in high-resolution. There is still no word recognition while you are singing. You can't actually play the game online with others and it's a shame that you can't upload longer videos. The most damaging of all though is Sony's total disrespect of previous SingStar owners. There is no option to use the previous discs with this one, so if you dream of showing off your skills online using songs found on those discs, you will have to repurchase the songs and download them onto your PlayStation 3. The missing backward-compatibility feature only points out to how money hungry Sony really is (watch out for those overpriced background downloads!). I am sure they still need a lot of cash to gain some profit from the high manufacturing cost of the PlayStation 3 console but they shouldn't have placed the burden of that mistake on their customers in such an unfair fashion. [Update Note: In December 2008, Sony released a patch that allows the title to be backwards compatible with all the PlayStation 2 SingStar discs.] Still, this game is the best karaoke "machine" ever made and trust me, it will be a hit in your next social gathering! Just don't tell your friends that you are going to post their videos online. Then again, they probably wouldn't mind.

RATING: 4 out of 5
* With most recent patch: 1 out of 5 *

Update Note: 11/15/2014 - This game has been ruined by Sony. Click here to read the details.

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