Singstar

Firstly, I can't sing. I know people who can, but it's not something I've ever picked up from them. Thankfully, I'd never inflict my singing on anybody else either, but for those that are keen to do exactly that, Singstar is the ideal PS3 game. Shipping with approximately 30 "excellent" songs, featuring role models such as, erm, Britney Spears and the Pussycat Dolls, there's obviously little that can go wrong when four drunk party types are equipped with four microphones and thrust in front of a little bit of U2.

Singstar

There's not much to explain here, but basically: you select a song and a mode (solo, duet or orchestral disaster) and off you go. The video plays with small unobtrusive overlays that indicate when to start gurgling. The level of difficulty basically varies with the song you pick and the level of familiarity you have with the tune. In truth, it's not a game in the traditional sense (obviously not featuring bosses and other objectives) but it does have ratings, based on how accurately you meet the desired notes for the song. The only downside there is that there's no word-recognition, so, in reality, you could get a perfect score through accurate humming. Even so, there's not much fun in that and, even with my total lack of singing ability, it's a lot more fun to try out the words. That said, I only do so when I'm with very close friends and family, in a large enough group, in the right conditions, with an appropriate amount of food and drink and, well, obviously I'm not the sing-at-strangers type.

The singing side of things is all very nice and, in addition, the menus are very nicely presented, as are the videos (for each song, the full video is played so that you can even bounce up and down like the stars of the video), but they're only one small component of the things that Singstar sets out to achieve. Perhaps of more importance to Sony are three key things: social gaming, download services and sharing. Nintendo's Wii has achieved great popularity by dumbing itself down and making every interface clean and simple, but more importantly, the Wii emphasises the social side of gaming, suggesting that even "normal" people play games if the setting is right. The adverts for the Wii only just stop short from screaming "look, social gaming with friends, not geeky Sony and Microsoft gaming". Obviously, this isn't something Sony should be happy about, particularly since Sony-based franchises such as Singstar and Buzz have been pushing the social scene for many years, while both Sony and Microsoft have far superior online capability to enable social gaming on a far-wider scale. The existence of games such as Singstar on the PS3 can only be a good thing though, as Sony tries to recover some portion of the social gamer group.

The second key point is the download service. While it may not seem that great for consumers (paying for extra content has its useful aspects, but it won't be long before developers learn to exploit this feature by releasing over-priced downloads within days of a game's release), a game like Singstar is certain to benefit from the option. If you're not keen on the initial thirty tracks, fear not, for many hundreds more are available for purchase on the download store. The ability to purchase extra songs certainly adds considerable lastability to the existing game and shouldn't be underestimated.

Singstar

Lastly, there's sharing. The recently-announced LittleBigPlanet is said to include many shareable features (likely to be custom-built levels), but with Singstar, you can already start sharing your singing exploits and, if you have a Playstation Eye, your dancing antics to accompany them. If you put forward your masterpieces for sharing, you're then at the mercy of the gaming public who can view and rate your songs or videos and comment on your work. Alternatively, if you're like me, you can keep your terrible singing to yourself and just reserve it for over-enthusiastic parties.

There's not much else to say about Singstar, other than to emphasize that the game can play a role for a wide variety of people. It need not only appeal to young teens, but can be enjoyed by all generations (particularly since the download store features numerous classic hits to suit all tastes). It might not be a game I recommend next to the likes of Resistance and Oblivion, but it's a decent title that adds considerable diversity to the Playstation experience and should be recommended as a result.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Sony

Developer:

Sony

Players:

1-4

Online:

Sharing

Release:

2007-11-21

Trophies:

35

Review summary

Gameplay:

Great fun but, for me, only with friends

Graphics:

Just music videos and an interface

Sound:

Only as "good" as you make it

Lastability:

Always available at parties

6.2

Red Giant

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Commander Shepard

I couldn't do this without you, Garrus.

Garrus Vakarian

Sure you could. Not as stylishly, of course.