Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: SCEE London
Release Date: November 4, 2008
It can be argued that the SingStar game series has quite possibly eclipsed Karaoke Revolution as being the most prolific music franchise on the PS2. In the span of three years, there have been no fewer than seven games appearing on the system, each with a completely different song list of master recordings and each one covering different genres and eras. This time around, SCEE London has put out another compilation of songs called SingStar Legends, covering some of the biggest hits from the 1950s to the 1990s. For PS2 owners, this is pretty much a must-buy. For PS3 SingStar owners, however, things are a bit different.
For those unfamiliar with the game series, SingStar Legends is a pure karaoke game. Using the USB microphone package (purchased separately or supplied in previous SingStar packages), players pick a song and sing along to it. The goal is to try match the vocal pitch of the song using a scale presented on-screen. The meter fills up when you match the presented pitch, and it also goes above and below the pitch meter when you happen to sing higher or lower than what the game wants, respectively. The pitch meter is presented near the center of the screen while the lyrics go on the bottom of the screen, letting you know what the words of the song are if you haven't memorized the song already. As an added bonus, the actual music video of the song plays in the background so it gives others not playing something to look at while they wait their turn.
Playing the game is easy. All you really have to do is sing to your heart's content until the song is over. Match the pitch well, and you score more points. Fail to hit the pitch just right, and you won't score as many points as you would have liked to. At the end of the song, you get a point total as well as a ranking of how well you did. As stated before, the game is easy to play. The hard part comes from the fact that you want to keep practicing to get your scores higher and higher than before. With the songs all containing different vocal pitches and vocal styles (including rap), getting the top score in each song won't happen instantly.
Aside from the single-player mode, there's a duet mode where you and a partner sing a song together for a cumulative score. Depending on the song, each person sings specific sections, or, if the tune wasn't originally a duet, the song is split up so that each person has a turn with the lyrics. There's also a battle mode where you and a partner can go head-to-head to compete for a higher score on the same song. For party situations, there's a party mode that keeps track of up to eight players at a time.
Gamers who have tried other music games will find the singing system here to be a bit different. Where other titles like Karaoke Revolution had a system where the lyrics scrolled by with an arrow indicating where your vocal pitch should be, SingStar Legends has a static lyrics system where there is no early indicator of where your pitch should be in order to score well on the given tune. Unless the song has a consistent pitch to it, most players will have no idea about where their pitch should be until it's too late. It doesn't get any easier if the song happens to go by at a rather fast pace. It doesn't make the title any less fun since you might want to sing the same song again at some point, but it is something to note.
All of the songs are unlocked the moment you insert the disc, which is great for party situations since you don't have to worry about not having all of the advertised songs available without putting in some work of your own. Aside from the 30 songs given to you from the beginning, you also get six melodies that put together certain pieces of different songs into a giant mash-up. If you ever tire of the 30 songs and six melodies, you also get the option to put in any of the previous SingStar discs to get the rest of the song library without having to reboot the PS2.
The graphical look of SingStar Legends hasn't changed at all compared to previous versions of the game. The pitch bars for the vocals still sport the same blue and red colors with the same clarity as the previous versions. The lyrics area is still the same, and so is the score area. Beyond the main menu interface, the biggest graphical change would have to be the videos themselves. Considering that most of the songs included in the game never had music videos in the first place, the videos included for some of the songs look more like fan-made YouTube music videos, with several static pictures appearing while the songs play. The quality of those videos is better than expected and end up keeping everything cohesive.
Much like the graphics, the sound here isn't going to blow people away. None of the videos sport any surround sound to them. The menu sounds are pretty basic and the quality of the songs is good since they all come from the videos. Just like the previous games, the one major change from this version and the previous ones is the ability to turn off the vocals for the song, which is good if you'd rather hear yourself than the original artist. Aside from that, you'll simply be happy to know that the song selection is varied enough to please fans young and old, making it a perfect party game for friends and family.
Like the other SingStar titles, you have the option to save each audio recording of your performance, though the number of performances you can keep is limited to the space on your memory card. If you happen to have an EyeToy, you can also save video snippets of your performances, though the number is also limited to your memory card space.
SingStar Legends adds a great library of songs to the PS2 SingStar library. With the tried-and-true SingStar formula in place and an excellent selection of songs, fans of the series can't go wrong with this new entry.
For PS3 owners, though, the must-buy status of the game could drop depending on how much downloadable content you've already obtained for SingStar vol. 1 or SingStar vol. 2. Out of the 30 songs available on the disc, six are already available as downloadable content and one song is on the SingStar vol. 1 disc, leaving you with 23 new songs to grab from the disc. If you never had those songs, then SingStar Legends is definitely a safe purchase for those wanting to expand their karaoke library. If you already have those tunes, however, you might want to wait until the price on this disc drops a bit before picking it up.