Back in May, I deemed SingStar "Great"
and gave it an IGN Editor's Choice Award. Five months later, I stand by the declaration; I still upload goofy videos of myself singing to My SingStar Online, I still download tracks off the SingStore, and I still comment on the profiles of other SingStars.
Now, SingStar Vol. 2 is upon us, and I'm not impressed.
If you picked up the first SingStar on the PlayStation 3, SingStar Vol. 2 is going to feel like old times right away. The disc packs 30 songs and six medleys (listed below) that you can take into duets, battles, or solo singing sessions. You pick a track, the music video or PlayStation Eye feed begins to play, the words appear at the bottom of the screen. Your voice pops up as blue or red on the screen when you begin singing. As you raise or lower your pitch, your voice color follows suit on the screen. You'll need to use that coloring to fill in pitch and timing indicator bars on the screen. Nail the bar, and you'll score high for the section. At the end of the game, your sections are totaled and you get an overall score along with a rating such as Wannabe, Hit Artist, or SingStar.
In short, it's the same SingStar we know and love.
Awesomely, singing is just a small part of SingStar and SingStar Vol. 2. If you hook up a PlayStation Eye, you can record and save snippets of your performance, store photos from your songs, and pimp out the game's best feature -- My SingStar Online. A community-driven feature, My SingStar Online has you create a profile that showcases your best scores, favorite songs, and personal quote for the world to see. The PlayStation Eye will take your profile photo so that when people come by to comment on your Facebook-like wall they can see your smiling face. Attached to this profile are five video slots, a ton of photo slots, and five audio playback slots where you can showcase your uploaded content. Folks view the vids, screens, and audio; rate it; and then SingStar tracks the best content and spotlights it for users. On top of all that is the SingStore. Here, Sony puts up a sampling of songs about every two weeks that folks can come in and download one at a time for $1.49.
As folks who played the first SingStar know, all of that is rad. Although SingStar Vol. 2 has all that greatness, I have a problem with the game -- this disc shouldn't exist.
I love karaoke, and I've always enjoyed the SingStar series. However, when this franchise was PS2-only, I never bought the game for my home. Sure, every iteration had some songs I wanted on the disc, but there was always a number that I didn't want. Who wants to buy a game to only play 15 songs that you actually dig? Sure, Sony kept putting out themed discs, but who wants to buy game after game to establish a library of tracks you'd actually want to sing? SingStar on the PS3 had the tools to fix this: Sony gave us a disc with a bunch of hit or miss tracks and promised bi-weekly updates to the SingStore. Now, instead of buying discs for the one or two songs I really wanted, I could hop onto the SingStore and grab the specific melody I craved.
I thought that this was truly the next generation of karaoke videogames, but it turns out I was wrong. First, updates to the SingStore have been less than regular and rather disappointing (seriously, enough with the U.K. bands I've never heard of), but more important to this review is the fact that Sony's putting out another disc featuring 30 songs and six medleys when it really doesn't have to.
Now, even though it's flawed (no wireless mics, you can't see your voice on the screen until you're supposed to be singing, etc.), I love the SingStar series on the PS3. Posting videos, spending time looking through the Hall of Fame, and telling people how awesome they are via the comment tool are all nifty features that really give this series a community. That said, I'd be happy to shell out my hard-earned cash to pick up a new SingStar PS3 disc as long as it was bringing a new feature to the PS3 that the last disc didn't (video comments, Trophies, more video slots, etc.). Sadly, SingStar Vol. 2 does none of that. All of the problems you had with the first game are still here -- including the fact that the PlayStation Eye feed is flipped as if you were looking into a mirror.
You're getting the exact same game as May's SingStar except that the colors and songs are different. That's unacceptable.
Sure, if you're brand new to the series and feel that the rocking beats and rhymes of The Cure, Gnarls Barkley, and Radiohead are enough to suck you into the SingStar world, Vol. 2 probably seems great deal because the features it's packing are awesome. However, if you have the original PS3 SingStar, there's nothing here other than the songs to keep you entertained. Sadly, these 30 tracks won't be made available on the SingStore so you can't pick and choose what you like from the new disc -- a disc that costs $40 by itself.
You could make the argument that even if you could purchase the 30 songs on the store they'd cost you about $45 at the typical $1.49 price point, but saying that doesn't make sense for my argument. I don't want all these songs; I have a big old sexy PS3 hard drive. Let me pick the ones I want and download them.
Oh, and one final thing, what's the deal with having an opening montage movie set to "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen when that song's not even in the game? I love that song. I love Queen. Why torture me Sony?
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