SingStar Amped Review
I need to begin this review with a bit of a disclaimer. Normally I am against the practice of writing a review for one version of a game and then using it for the review of another version. If you played and reviewed the PS3 version of a game, it doesn't mean that the review should apply verbatim to the Xbox 360 version. However, this is a special case since SingStar '80s and SingStar Amped were released on the same day, and are essentially the same game with different soundtracks. So if you read the review for SingStar '80s and then jump over to the review for SingStar Amped (or vice versa), you're going to see some copied and pasted text. I want to assure you that I've played both of these games thoroughly and outside of the track selection they are indeed the same game, so rather than spend a few hours trying to come up with two different ways to say the exact same thing I am invoking my rarely used power of the clipboard. Now that I have that out of the way, let's take a look at the game.
SingStar Amped is one of the latest games in the PS2 karaoke series. If you've played any of the previous games in the series, then you pretty much know what you can expect from this one. The biggest change this time around is not that the game comes with an all-new soundtrack, but the fact that the track list is far more focused. One of the issues with the previous SingStar games is that the soundtracks have been too broad. While this meant that just about everyone at a party with a very diverse crowd could find a couple of songs that they'd like to sing, it also meant that everyone could only find a couple of songs that they'd like to sing. For many gamers a large chunk of the song list would just sit there on the disc taking up room. This time out you've got a soundtrack that is focused on alternative rock, and outside of a few out of place 70s rock tracks you'd hear them all at some time on your local alt rock radio station.
Before taking a closer look at the soundtrack, I need to take a step back for those of you new to SingStar. First of all, SingStar is a karaoke game and as such requires a microphone to play, so be sure that you pick up a version bundled with the microphones or else you won't be able to play the game. The microphones plug into the USB port of your PS2, and they work just fine with a PS3 as well. There are two single player games available, one of which scores your performance and the other which just lets you sing freestyle purely for your own enjoyment. When playing for a score, you'll see the song lyrics appear two lines at a time at the bottom of the screen as bars of varying length and at different vertical positions scroll across the screen from left to right while the song's music video plays in the background. The bars are used to indicate sung notes, with the length of the bar representing the time the note should be held and the vertical position signifying the relative pitch. As you sing into the mic, your notes are drawn across the screen and the object is to match your notes as closely as possible to the bars scrolling across the screen. While this is a good enough way to score your ability to sing a song, it does have its drawbacks. First of all you don't need to sing the right words. In fact, you don't need to sing any words. Humming or singing "la la la" work just as well, as long as you hit the right pitch. Tying the scoring to pitch has another consequence in that the game forces you to try to sing each song in the exact same style as the original singer. If the pitch of your voice doesn't match well with the original singer's, then you'll feel somewhat awkward trying to parrot the original rather than letting loose and singing the song your way.
SingStar was created as a party game and so comes with a number of different multiplayer modes. Pass the Mic has up to eight players singing in turn to compete in a number of challenges in addition to accumulating the highest score. Duet has two players working in unison to earn the best combined score. Duet's counterpart is Battle, which has both players singing the same song at once in an attempt to get the highest score. Get the right group of fun friends together and SingStar can be a great time.