Sony's SingStar karaoke game franchise has gone through a number of releases on the PS2 and although the songs have changed the gameplay has remained the same. Now SingStar has made its next-gen debut but in spite of the move the series' gameplay remains pretty much the same. However, the way your build your track library and connect with other SingStar fans is decidedly next-gen.
|That's me in the corner...|
First let's begin with a look at how SingStar is played. If you played the PS2 version you'll be familiar with the gameplay already and happy to hear that the PS3 game uses the same microphones as the PS2 series did. There are a few modes of play in the game, but they all share the same mechanic. You select a song and its music video begins to play on the screen. Once the singing starts, you'll see the current and next lines of lyrics at the bottom of the screen. As the lyrics scroll, they are accompanied by horizontal bars that scroll horizontally across the center of the screen, superimposed over the music video as it plays. The height of each bar on the screen indicates the relative pitch of the note and the length of the bar indicates how long the note should be held. As you sing into the mic, your notes are drawn on the screen, again with horizontal bars that correspond to the pitch and length of your notes. The goal is to align the bars that you create while singing with those displayed for the song. It doesn't matter if you get the lyrics right; since relative pitch and timing are everything you can hum the song if you'd like. On the other hand, you can't completely reinterpret a song as you can in karaoke because you need to stick pretty closely to the style of the original vocals. After each phrase is sung the game will give you some feedback on your performance in the form of a rating, and at the end of the song you'll be given an overall score and a ranking from "Tone Deaf" to "Sing Star". If that seems like too much pressure for you, there is an open mic mode without scoring that turns your PS3 into a karaoke machine. A new SingStar feature introduced for the PS3 version of the game is the option to run off the original vocal track. The original vocals are a necessity when a song is unfamiliar and a distraction when it is an old favorite, so it's nice to finally have this option available to you.
Karaoke is a group experience type of activity and SingStar wisely includes a few multiplayer options. Songs can be sung as duets or in a cooperative relay mode known as "Pass the Mic", or you can play competitively in a few modes when you're in a more competitive mood.
SingStar isn't really a vocal version of Guitar Hero. With Guitar Hero you can find yourself playing alone for long stretches trying to nail down 100% on a song, but SingStar just doesn't have that type of hook to it. Guitar Hero makes for a great party game, but there are always bound to be some people who don't play games who will struggle with the guitar controller. SingStar also makes for a great party game, but one with which everyone can participate and easily pick up and play.