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SingStar Vol. 2
Score: 89%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: London Studio
Media: Blu-ray/1
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Rhythm/ Party/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:
SingStar is back for another round on the PS3 in SingStar: Vol. 2 and with it comes some much better tunes than the last version. Really fun tunes like Lit's "Miserable," Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like a Lady," Eminem's "Without Me," and The Offspring's "Pretty Fly for a White Guy" are undeniably a blast to sing and really make SingStar: Vol. 2 a serious karaoke game contender. There are older songs like The Proclaimers' "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)," Tone Loc's "Funky Cold Medina" and Young M.C.'s "Bust a Move," plus very modern hits like Sara Bareilles' "Love Song" and Paramore's "CrushCrushCrush," so there should be something here to please almost anyone. But wait, if you don't see what you want here, you can always download songs from the SingStore. They've put a good many songs up for download, but again, a lot of them are weird choices as I said when the first PS3 SingStar came out. I expect they will continue to add new songs, however. As for ease of use, downloading a song is pretty easy as long as you already have funds in your PlayStation wallet.

The new and improved interface returns for SingStar: Vol. 2, looking very slick and with more than its fair share of bling. Everything has a very glossy feel to it, very much like the PS3 itself. As always, the music videos for each song will play in the background, which is a nice plus. You can also connect your PlayStation Eye or EyeToy and have yourself in the background instead of the music video. If you are really proud of your performance, you can also save it and share it with your friends on the PlayStation Network.


Gameplay:
SingStar: Vol. 2 is the second iteration for SingStar's arrival on the PS3, and as such, it plays exactly like it did before. You select a song from a set list of 30 songs, decide whether to play the Normal or the Short length of the song, and then you get to singing. The main difference between SingStar on the PS2 and PS3 is the availability of downloadable content. There are several hundred songs to choose from in addition to what comes on the game out of the box. A lot of these songs have already made an appearance on the PS2 versions of the game, so you may want to pass on those, but there are plenty of fresh tunes as well. Not as many as I'd like to see, but there's a better mix there then there was for the first version of SingStar PS3. Additionally, if you have already downloaded songs for the first SingStar on the PS3, then those will automatically be available in-game for you to sing.

While SingStar: Vol. 2 can be played by yourself in Solo mode, it is much more of a party game and is best served as a multiplayer experience. Up to 8 players total can join in, 2 on Battle, 2 on Duet and 2 - 8 on Pass the Mic. Pass the Mic consists of a number of mini-challenges that players must pass through to win. 2 players can also participate in Harmony Duets, singing in perfect harmony to amass tons of points.

The PS3 Eye is always recording if it is plugged in, so be aware that you might not want to be singing in your robe and fuzzy slippers to be recorded for posterity. It will record a video of your performance, as well as several snapshots, and you can either keep these and upload them to share with friends, or delete them if the robe and fuzzy slippers event occurs.

Since SingStar: Vol. 2 is a karaoke song, your main focus will be on timing and pitch. SingStar doesn't really care what words you sing, as long as they match in time to the actual words. The lyrics will appear across the bottom of the screen and there is a colored bar that approaches the words to alert you as to when to begin singing. They are also color-coded according to red and blue to indicate which player sings which lines, if you are playing with two people. There's a pitch bar in the center of the screen to tell you where your pitch should fall. Your goal is to match the song in both pitch and timing to get a high score and a good ranking. That's about it!


Difficulty:
Your choices are Easy, Medium and Hard and depending on which difficulty you choose, you will be judged in that fashion. If you just want to have fun with it, I'd go with Easy or Practice to not be scored at all. Although you will still need to try, it's not stringent at all. If you want to up your challenge level, step it up to Medium and you'll be required to match the pitch and timing more closely. For a really tough time of it, go for the Hard setting. You will be required to maintain the pitch perfectly and the challenge level is pretty taxing.

That being said, you can't get booed off the stage like you can in Karaoke Revolution or similar games, so the worst that can happen is a little humiliation from your friends or a bad ranking from the game. Who cares! You can sing as well or as badly as you like, as long as you promise not to record your poor performances and put them on YouTube. Please.


Game Mechanics:
You are required to use your SingStar USB mic to play SingStar: Vol. 2, so don't come to this party with your Karaoke Revolution mic and think you'll be in business. The good news is that your PS2 SingStar mics work just fine. If you have an HDTV and experience some lag between your singing and the song on the screen, you can address this as there is an option for latency so you can calibrate it to your HDTV to eliminate a good bit of the lag. I never could get it perfect, but it was close enough for me.

As I described earlier, there's not much to it other than singing and singing correctly. You select your song, or a medley if you are feeling crazy and want some extra challenge. The words and pitch bar await you and your perfect performance. If you nail the song and have the correct pitch, you will score points. Score enough points and you will find yourself on the road to becoming a SingStar. Or you may rank as Tone Deaf, but that's ok. As long as you are having fun with it, that's all that matters. If you are really bombing out on a song, at least there's a nice little length bar that tells you how much of the song is left. And sometimes it will be all you can do just to last until the end, so it comes in handy.

The main appeal with SingStar: Vol. 2 will be the new crop of tunes. Like I said earlier, they selected some good ones and overall, I was really pleased with the offerings. As Sony continues to add more songs to the available downloadable content, I expect SingStar will gain in popularity. The songs cost about $1.49 each and that's not bad if you have been dying to sing a particular song. I still find that the downloadable stuff tends more towards European tastes, but that is slowly evolving and hopefully they will continue to add a good variety. If you want a sneak peek at the song list for SingStar: Vol. 2, click here to get the rundown to help you decide whether it's for you or not.


-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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