Date: November 9, 2004
Buy 'KARAOKE REVOLUTION VOLUME 3': PlayStation 2
Just a few months after the last installment, Konami and Harmonix have released Karaoke Revolution Volume 3, which means that PS2 owners now have more songs with which to fine tune their voices.
It's a great party game, and each game in this series has been quite enjoyable, but Karaoke Revolution Volume 3 has probably one of the most complete modes that you would wish for in any karaoke type game. Volume 2 introduced short songs, but in Volume 3, the developers have added duet mode so you can finally sing with your partner or a fellow friend.
There are a total of three duet modes: duets, sing-off, and knockout. Duets are where you and a fellow friend sing together to pass a song, with the objective of scoring the highest possible tally (you can also play against other teams). Not all songs have the duet option; for instance, "Love Shack" has a duet mode, but there isn't one for "Burn." When you choose a song without true duet mode, the two of you can sing in unison, but if you want to fight for bragging rights, then sing-off and knockout modes are for you. If you are good, you can earn bragging rights for the best vocalist in the group. For those bickering about who sings better, these last two modes are perfect to figure out who is the better or worse singer. Sing-off is where you alternate verses to see who can get the highest score (at times in unison with one another). Knockout mode is where the two of you sing the song together, and if one player outscores the other player by a lot, he/she will knock the opponent out of the song, a crushing and brutal defeat but more glory for the victor.
All of the available play modes from the previous chapter are once again present: Showtime, Medley, Medley, Arcade, Karaoke Competition, Karaoke, and Quickplay. These modes play similarly to how they did in the previous versions. Once again, Showtime is where the most time will be spent, unless you're at parties or gatherings. This is where you can practice the song and unlock the hidden secrets of the game like new songs, outfits, and characters.
This version also sees the introduction of a few new characters, like The Dude, Helga, Sorrow, Vox, Joe, Martin, Katelyn, and Armando. These new characters add some more variety to the game, especially Helga, who is apparently the origin of the saying, "It's not over till the fat lady sings." She looks like a typical opera singer, complete with Viking hat and tremendous vocal power. My favorite character is a tossup between "The Mic" or "The Dude" because they look the coolest out of the bunch. The characters also look a lot more proportional than before, especially the eyes, which no longer look like they're bulging out. If you're into anime characters without the other anime proportions, then you have the option to activate the big eyes. For me, though, those eyes were scary so good riddance. Aside from the character models, the backgrounds and background characters are also graphically improved. The details have increased a notch, adding in more special effects and small decorative items into the backgrounds to make it seem more lively and colorful than before. It might also be that your characters move around a lot more, trying his or her best to pump up the crowd as well as match the song a lot better (although a guy character singing a girl song still doesn't work). They've also added a few new venues such as The Wagon Wheel, a western concert hall, music video, and the rooftop. At times, you may even experience fireworks and a camera view perspective of the venues. These places seem to give the game a nice added touch, but what really gives the game its special zing is the audio.
A karaoke game had better have good audio, and for the most part, this does. The songs in the game are marvelously done, considering they are all imitations. This time, the selection of songs is also quite different from its predecessors. In the last, we had mainly mainstream popular pop and rock songs while this version is more focused on older songs such as "Love Shack," "Unchained Melody," "I Got You Babe," and much more. There are also a few new songs such as "Burn," "The Reason," and others, combined for over 35 songs. This where the audio truly stands out, but what is lacking in the game is the background music; if you stay on one screen for too long, it will start to wear on your nerves so remember to turn off the PS2 when you are done. Sadly, Karaoke Revolution does not have a way to play the songs nonstop so if you just want to listen to them, you either have to play them one by one or go into karaoke mode and let the computer sing through it. I do this at times because some of the songs sure bring back good memories.
For those new to the Karaoke Revolution series (for those not you can skip to the next paragraph), it's a game that utilizes a system to measure and compare how closely you can match your tone of voice to the ideal tone for the song. On the screen, you will see lyrics and a bar informing you at which range the song is sung. Holding and matching the bar will give you more points and allows you to score platinum (20,000+ points) with ease. It seems that in this version, the judging has gotten quite lenient because I know I should have failed a few songs with the three-star difficulty level (the highest in the game). The game also has three levels of judging: easy, medium and expert. Depending on how well you trust your voice and vocals, you should set the level that's best for you. For newbies, I strongly suggest easy because you will grasp the system easier that way.
The duets system is quite similar to single player mode, but the difference is the fact that there are now two bars covering the screen. The top bar is for the first player, and the bottom bar is for the second player, covering up most of the background, so if you want to check out the venues, try a different mode. Scores are located on the left side of the screen. In duet mode, your combined score is shown, while in sing-off mode, player 1's score is shown on the top while player 2's score is shown on the bottom. In knockout mode, the score setup is similar to that in sing-off, but there is a bar showing how long before either player gets knocked out. Karaoke Revolution's new duet feature is definitely something you should try out.
Overall, this game is probably the best vocal series available at this time for any console. Among all three volumes, there is a nice variety of songs, providing a decent collection of songs for everyone to sing. If you can only get one version, check out the song lists and available modes before deciding. While Volume 3 has the most modes and options, volumes 1 and 2 have more popular songs. With the third release, Konami has once again fine-tuned the system and is even selling the game with the Logitech microphone, which makes the game much more enjoyable than the headset. The only complaint I have is the small number of duets (around 10), so I hope to see more in the next release. The big rental places don't tend to carry this game, so you might have to wait for someone to bring it over, but it's definitely a keeper, and I hope to see more. For those who don't know what to get someone for Christmas (and they own a PS2), add this to your list. You most likely won't be disappointed.