Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: SCEE London
Release Date: August 4, 2009
Players that booted up SingStar vol. 2 last year were greeted with a pretty cruel joke when it came to the opening movie. The cinematic showed players of all ages and types singing along to the game and having plenty of fun while doing it. The cruelty of the video comes in the form of the song they were singing: "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen. There is nothing wrong with the song, except for the fact that it wasn't included in the game disc at all. Neither the UK nor the US version had it. Those hoping to find it as downloadable content were also disappointed to discover that the song was missing from the SingStar Store. After a year of being teased by the video, fans of this song will finally be able to sing along to it, thanks to the release of SingStar: Queen.
The game formula hasn't changed a bit since it was released years ago. Those familiar with the way the system works will feel right at home while others, especially those who haven't played karaoke games before, will only need a few seconds of gameplay time before becoming familiar with how everything works. 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 don't have them memorized. As an added bonus, the actual music video plays in the background so it gives non-players something to view while they wait their turn.
Playing SingStar: Queen 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've liked. 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 higher scores. With the songs all containing different vocal pitches and different vocal stylings, 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 such as Guitar Hero: World Tour, Rock Band 2 or Karaoke Revolution presents American Idol Encore will find the singing system here to be a bit different. Whereas those titles have the lyrics scrolling by with an arrow indicating where your vocal pitch should be, SingStar: Queen has a static lyrics system where there is no early indicator for where your pitch would be in order to score high on the given tune. Unless the song has a consistent pitch to it, most players will have no idea on where their pitch should go until it was 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 somewhere down the road, but it is something to note.
Thanks to the various patches put out for the previous SingStar titles, SingStar: Queen gets to partake in some of those benefits. The swap-disc feature, for example, is still present here so you can easily switch back and forth between different SingStar versions without having to constantly reset the system. The downloadable content is also cross-compatible with this game, making it a bit odd to see your song collection visible in a Queen-themed gamed. However, since the downloadable songs also integrate well with the random medley feature, it's a welcome feature for those who might be too drowned out in Queen after a certain time and just need a small break.
Trophies are also present here, though they are shared among all of the SingStar titles on the PS3. If you grabbed a Trophy in SingStar vol. 2, for example, it won't open up if you perform the same tasks in SingStar: Queen. Finally, the downloadable voice control system works here as well. The system allows you to forgo the standard PS3 controller and just use your voice to control the song menu system. By speaking the song artist or name, you can make the game go to the tune you want and start a game with the short or normal version of the song. The system works rather well and almost makes it mandatory for party situations. The only downside is that because the controller shuts down on you after periods of inactivity, the game will detect this and ask that you turn on the controller again. Unless you have the controller constantly plugged into the system, this unfortunate oversight degrades the vocal control system to novelty status, as opposed to something you'd always want to use.
The graphical look of SingStar: Queen hasn't changed at all compared to previous versions of the game. Aside from a Queen theme in the main menu and a Queen opening video, one would think that you just popped in any volume of SingStar and decided to download a bunch of Queen songs to go along with it. 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. The included videos are all in standard definition, which is to be expected considering how old the source material is. Still, it looks rather good on a high-definition set, and those asking for them to be redone would be asking for just a bit too much here. PlayStation Eye support is also here, and you can use it to replace the music video with its own camera feed, if you so desire. Few people will want to do this, though, since the video quality is grainy and, for some odd reason, flips the image around so that text on a t-shirt is reversed.
The sound is as good as one expects, with the music and vocals coming through loud and clear. You have the option to turn off your mic feedback in case you hate hearing yourself speak or sing. The song selection in the game still hovers at 30 tunes and does a good job of showcasing the group's different musical styles. The group covered everything from standard rock to early '60s rock to Broadway-style ballads so, it's great to see all of that represented here. Some notable songs are missing, like "Bicycle" and "Princes of the Universe," but hopefully, those omissions will be addressed with downloadable content. Please note that the PS3 version comes with five more songs than the PS2 version, so if you were looking to save money by buying the previous-generation version, you might want to check the song lists for both to make sure you aren't going to be missing out on your favorite Queen song.
The online modes haven't changed much at all with this game. There's still no online competitive mode for the title and no leaderboard for any songs. The community is still alive, however, with people constantly posting pictures, audio performances and video performances of themselves with all of the songs that the series has to offer. The complete SingStar Store library is also viewable here, and with a number hovering over 700 songs to download, you're bound to find something else you want to sing. One interesting thing to note is that, unlike SingStar ABBA, going to the SingStar Store with this disc doesn't suddenly let you check out the foreign language songs available. You can still check for them in the store options, but you won't instantly see songs that you can't pronounce.
SingStar: Queen is the type of track pack that you want other music games to follow. It takes the songs from one band, puts it in a compilation for fans to enjoy, and retains features from the series' previous titles. While it would be easy to recommend this game to Queen fans only, non-fans will still want to check this out because of the diversity of music that the band offered.Score: 7.7/10
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