SingStar - PS3 Barrie ON
St Catharines, ON
SingStar - PS3
June 5, 2008 By Chris Chiarella
We have become a nation of legendary guitar players and rock bands, if only in our imaginations, or at least in our living rooms. But long before plastic Stratocasters became a videogame staple, karaoke (Japanese for "empty orchestra") was a popular techno-pastime, and not just for inebriated Asian businessmen.
Liberating the frustrated vocalist languishing within all of us, right in the privacy of our own homes, a game like SingStar is an indulgence, perhaps a goof, certainly one of the great entertainments that the mighty PlayStation 3 (PS3) is capable of delivering. Presenting the original music videos as a backdrop to each of the songs provided, the game highlights the lyrics on screen, with simple icons to indicate the notes we should be hitting, the proper pitch and for how long. The simple microphone folds our voice into the music, while the ratings system continually shares its estimation of our performance, a sobering rollercoaster of "Cool!," "Awful!" and other encouraging/discouraging reviews. Afterward, we're given a final numerical score and judged to be a "Rising Star," or "Tone Deaf" and so on. We can customize the experience in subtle ways—add a photo or other icon, change the background theme—while ratcheting up the difficulty makes the game less forgiving when we go off-key or forget a verse.
The game is available with or without a pair of hefty, high-quality wired microphones and their USB adapter, in case you already own a set from one of the several different PS2 SingStars. The main difference between this new PS3 edition and previous ones is the ability to add individual tunes to your repertoire without having to buy the entire game over again, via the embedded SingStore. Unlike Guitar Hero III, which offers supplemental tracks via the PlayStation Store, the commerce portal here resides within the game itself, and new videos can be downloaded to the PS3's hard disk drive for $1.49 each. At press time, some 220 titles were available in standard-definition files in the neighborhood of 60 megabytes—and a couple of dozen of them were from bands I've actually heard of. The shopping experience is quick and enjoyable, with little audio/video preview loops for every song. If you find a brave partner, certain tunes even lend themselves to duets.
Some of these videos will reportedly be in HD, someday, but not so at launch; and none of the clips on the Blu-ray disc looked all that high-resolution to me, even with my PS3 set at 1080p. We are given fun little animations, sparkles on the pitch and timing indicators if we're doing a particularly good job for example, but the crisp in-game text and icons come the closest to showing off the high-def, as they are indeed razor-sharp.
Interestingly, the Dolby Digital logo does not appear on the back of the box, which is probably best since everything I heard was two-channel—full, clear, powerful two-channel mind you, with ample bass...