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Singstar PS3 PlayStation 3 Review - -

Gameplay 8.8
Graphics 8.0
Sound 10
Value 8.7
Distributor: Sony
Review Date:
December 07
Kyle Sudukis


Singstar (PS3)

Finally... Singstar arrives on the PlayStation 3 that takes the franchise to the next level with the introduction of downloadable content! So what’s new in Singstar on the PlayStation 3? Well the extras basically fit into two categories; Graphics and online. The actual singing part works exactly the same way (and with the same microphones no less – wireless ones to become available in the new year). The game judges your pitch, rhythm and sometimes how well you rap (although the way that’s actually scored seems haphazard at the best of times) to score and rank you but it’s as much about the pleasure of singing as the reward of being told you’re a ‘SingStar’.

Graphically the game’s menus work exactly how you’d want the PS3’s own menus to, with customisable animated backgrounds that even change the background music so that the game even feels like it’s your own . The standard wheel of songs has a touch up by playing the animated music videos over the album cover when selected and everything is naturally sharper and clearer.

In this world of High Definition movies and games it’s a shame that the music industry hasn’t really followed suit so eagerly, making it very hard to find a track that has its video shot in HD. This means that all of the current videos are simply in standard definition, though look as good as they can do under the circumstances, and almost certainly the game has the capability to play HD videos should future songs make them available.

In the original SingStar, Sony chose music that it could find the master tracks from, so that it could offer a version without vocals in, in case of willing participants wanting a plain backing track, but the feature was removed due to the limitations of picking songs that could be hacked apart like that. In a brilliant turn, SingStar PS3 offers a similar option, digitally removing the vocals on the fly, and it generally works pretty well. Some songs are less successful, but it is an excellent addition to the package to show that effort has been made to create a better package all round.

Naturally support for the PS2’s Eye Toy and the PS3’s PlayStation Eye have been included, and you can choose whether or not to watch the original artist’s video or see yourself singing, and although the quality and frame rate is much better on the PS3 camera, both cameras are good enough to record footage from for later viewing. Now that the game is on a console with a hard drive it makes a lot more sense to be able to save your performances, selected snapshots from the camera and up to 30 seconds of video recorded from a specific part of the song. It is however unfortunate that there is a 30 second limit, especially in this next gen world where you’d expect to be able to record the whole song.

When first starting the game it seems like there is simply too much to look at straight away, and the ridiculous number of menus and options available simply overwhelmed me at the start, mainly because of the simplistic features of the previous SingStars. The playing side of the game is contained within a ‘Play SingStar’ menu, which is complimented by ‘My Media Gallery’ and ‘Online’. The media gallery is home to your saved performances of audio and video, and can be browsed, uploaded to your own space and sorted through from the gallery, but the game really shines when you open the Online menu.

The most publicised aspect of SingStar PS3 is the SingStore, which at current count allows 62 extra songs to download and add to your playlist. These range from songs we’ve all played before on previous incarnations of the franchise to the odd extra that we haven’t seen such as The Fray – Over My Head, and even the first of probably many Christmas songs to grace us before the year is up, I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day. Each track goes into detail about size, length and whether it’s standard or high definition. There is a section available for song packs, which although empty right now suggests that you’ll be able to grab a load of songs at once hopefully for a knock down price. Once you’ve selected your music, a preview pops up, music video and all, to help your decision, and if you go for it, you’ll be popped into the PlayStation Store to complete your transaction at 99p per song.

You can then return to playing, and the new track will download in the background, until it completes and will magically pop into your carousel of music with a telling ‘New’ logo just in case you’ve forgotten what you’ve chosen.

The other online aspect feels like a strange karaoke hybrid of myspace and youtube that lets you create an online profile, upload your favourite performances (video, audio or just snapshots) and check out everyone else's too. You can rate other media to satisfy your voyeuristic tendencies and even comment on profiles back and forth. It all streams quickly and there is already a ridiculous amount of content that people are throwing around that seems endlessly watchable if only to amuse yourself. Your best scores and songs are mentioned, and it’s all integrated into the system very well, even down to the ‘quick poll’ that you can vote on if you desire. Fortunately, you don’t have to have purchased a song if you simply want to hear someone else singing it.

While the game sounds like the ultimate upgrade to a perfect party game, there are a few issues with the game that plague it into the realm of annoyance. For a start, when you’re setting up your team for a party game, there is no way to randomize who is in which team, a feature gained almost from the very start of the PS2’s SingStar life. It doesn’t affect the game in any way, but sometimes you want to be able to avoid bias with the better singers and randomize what is going on.

Equally, while the basic track listing is pretty good, the whole idea about customizing playlists and only singing what you want is dependant on being able to choose your songs, and while you can download the songs you want, you can’t actually choose a playlist of songs to use in a party game which means that you’re forced to include the default songs with your downloads.

While hardware certainly has a part to play, many people are having problems with audio lag which can be minimized by reducing your TV’s picture processing (dynamic contrast and noise reduction to name but two) but the lack of a microphone lag test and settings really doesn’t feel like the package is complete. Equally, the game seems to minutely but noticeably raise the pitch of my singing when I play it back, putting it slightly out of tune, requiring you to use the pitch shift effect to slightly put it back. Crazily this disappears when I upload the song. This really shouldn’t be present in a game that has had this length of delay.

It is nice to be able to bring up your XMB friends list, and send messages etc. at any point in the menus but adding friends still requires you to type it in, rather than an add friend button within a profile. Finally, the online community features seem very overloaded at the moment and sometimes it’s practically impossible to get onto it. Uploading and downloading works silently in the background, but without a progress bar for you to check it all seems rather ‘hit and hope’.

It’s a real shame that the otherwise superb package has been marred by a few small factors that should be easily fixed with a future patch, but ultimately the game still does have those issues now. It remains the best incarnation of the franchise and since it can be picked up for the same price as the expansion disc outings on PS2 it’s practically a no-brainer for a SingStar fan, or even newcomer but the negatives, compounded by the fact that if you want to play your old songs in this version you’ll need to buy them all at the SingStore again (you can’t even put in your old disc and hit select like in the past) it’s a game that is still highly recommendable, has further potential, and could be something brilliant if SCEE support and upgrade it like it should.


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