Singstar Guitar Review

   29/10/2010 at 19:32       NewYork       1 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - Singstar Guitar, Rock Band, PlayStation 3

Singstar has long been held as the leader in karaoke games, owing to its slick, party-friendly interface, intelligent song choices, and excellent online integration. The series has seen many genre-specific releases that cater to various tastes, though this is the first to add a new gameplay element, allowing your friends to rock along using plastic guitars.

The game itself is instantly familiar, with the same interface you are used to from previous PS3 iterations. Once through the initial set-up process, the glossy menus lead you to an easy-to-use track selection screen that will serve the party all night. You can even use a PSP to select tracks, for an even more seamless on-TV experience.

The tracklist for this release, as the title indicates, focuses on guitar-led songs, ranging from alt-rock (Debaser, The Pixes), through punk (Rock the Casbah, The Clash), to pure pop (Untouched, The Veronicas). In all, the 30-track playlist is sure to have something for everyone. The general bent of the playlist is more manly than the typical Singstar release, levelling the gender divide with offerings laddy-lad-lads might not be as embarrassed to sing to. The 80s, 90s, and 2000s are all covered, providing something recognisable for all ages. The Brit presence is strong in this release, with around two thirds of the tracks produced by UK artists: for those hoping for a more international song selection, this release may disappoint.

Overall, the tracks are mainly mainstream hits, which is to be expected from Singstar. Pop tracks are always more useful in games of this type, as any Rock Band player realises when they struggle to find songs causal music fans even recognise, let alone know all the words to. When you pop the disc in at a gathering, it helps if people know half the songs.

The new guitar element adds extra involvement to the game, encouraging more players to get into the action, and allowing those who are more mic-shy to participate. It’s strange: when Guitar Hero first came out, I found players were embarrassed even to have a go on guitars. But it’s amazing how confident you can be on a plastic guitar when the alternative is butchering the singing part.

You can play using most existing guitar peripherals such as those from Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Don’t expect Guitar Hero/Rock Band-level guitar gameplay, here: though the mechanics are the same, with notes that must be hit and strummed, the difficulty is geared more to a casual audience, once again with the aim of getting everybody involved. This isn’t a game that should be bought on its guitar-gameplay merits, but more as a traditional Singstar game that gives your friends more stuff to do. Even the fretboard with falling notes is a simplified version of those seen in the “proper” guitar games. In terms of difficulty, there are three levels, with the most difficult “hard” level easier than hard mode in Guitar Hero. There is also no “star power” or combo-building to worry about. Gameplay with the guitar is responsive and fun, but lacks the challenge of the meatier games.

If you are looking for something on the level of Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you may want to skip his release. This is a more casual game with mass appeal: something for family and friends to have a blast to without worrying about learning curves or niche songs. Multiplayer allows for four players at once, with up to two singing  and up to two people playing guitar. There is no group score as you’d find in the Guitar Hero/Rock Band games, either. The tracklist, in at 30 songs, is far shorter and poppier than you’d find in the other games. Also missing is any kind of career mode, making this purely an arcadey pick-and-play game.

However, Singstar Guitar offers greater accessibility, a swifter, friendlier interface, quicker loading times, and actual music videos to sing and strum along to. Not to mention all the cool Singstar features present in the main series, including PlayStation Eye support and online support through My Singstar Online, which allows you to upload performances for others to see, further extended with Facebook integration. You can play co-operatively or competitively, and playing with one of the main Singstar discs (which are compatible with this disc) allows you to engage in 8-player pass-the-mic mode.

If a party music game is what you want, your decision to buy this iteration of Singstar comes down to whetheror not you like the tracklist and whether or not you have some plastic guitars lying around. Personally I found the songs to be too UK-centric and would have liked fewer rap-based tracks (Debaser, Helicopter, Untouched) and more tests of vocal ability (Beautiful Day).

In all, this is Singstar continuing to do what it already does well, with different tracks and guitar added on. It offers more opportunities for people to join in, especially the shyer types, and that’s surely a good thing. It’s lightweight compared to its meatier cousins Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but it still might be the disc you’ll reach for when it’s party time and you’re ready to rock.

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