SingStar Vol. 2

Second Verse, Same as the First

SingStar Vol. 2 has arrived on the PS3. Can it measure up the impressive next-gen debut?
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: October 26, 2008
Something is amiss in SingStar land. After a generally blusterous debut on the PS3, SingStar hasn't quite lived up to the potential of things like the SingStore and new updates/releases. Oh, the game is certainly better than the PS2 offerings (especially the latest ones), but that's mainly because the only real complaints one could have about those last-gen versions -- the interface and the song listing -- are at least partially fixed by just heading online and grabbing some tracks.


Or at least they were supposed to be.

The update schedule of the SingStore has been... spotty at best. Not only has Sony stuck almost exclusively with standard-def versions of the songs (a blessing in disguise, as the download speeds for the SingStore are deplorable), but the massive library of some absolutely killer songs from the disc-based versions of the games aren't up on the SingStore -- at least not to the degree that one would hope for a company that a) holds the rights to the songs and b) finally has a means to digitally distribute them.

And now comes SingStar Vol. 2. The lack of a theme to the title should be an indicator of the kind of effort put forth this time around. From the moment the game is popped in, problems begin to surface. Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now," one of the single best songs in the band's insanely great repertoire, isn't even in the game, yet it kicks off the intro to the game, already creating disappointment.

Secondly, the track listing this time around is nowhere near as good as the stuff in the first PS3 SingStar -- and that version wasn't even all that great to begin with, but at least there was the SingStore. This time around, there's really no excuse for pumping out 30 new tracks, adding some new music and background wallpapers and calling it a day. These tracks didn't even need to be made as a retail release since the SingStore was supposed to alleviate all these disc-based releases every few months. If not completely cutting them off, the SingStore at least promised to augment things, but the release schedule and overwhelming numbers of Euro bands appearing makes it pretty clear that Sony's American operations aren't quite as aggressive at acquiring new, current songs and videos.

It's possible that the addition of Microsoft jumping into the fray with their game, Lips, might light a fire under the collective asses of everyone involved, but I'm starting to go from doubtful to downright worried. The sheer amount of potential that SingStar has on the PS3 is enormous, but releasing a new disc-based version with a bunch of 70s videos all blown up to HD resolution is pitiful at best.

Let me be clear here. I'm not knocking SingStar as an experience, and honestly still believe that it's the best karaoke experience out there, but seeing the ball dropped this much -- and then seeing resources being diverted to release a product that's been made all but irrelevant by the fact that this game is on the PS3 -- means that it's even more frustrating to see Sony not really embrace the next-gen aspects of the game.

The song list, which I'll throw in here in a second, is decent enough, but nothing about it suggests that it had to be on a disc. I do realize that retail dues must be paid and that it's good to keep releasing physical products to take up shelf space, but the kind of people that are going to buy a game like this have likely already embraced the whole idea of buying new songs online.

Instead, I would have liked to have seen Vol. 2 address some of the original game's problems; add in Trophies, flip the Eye image so it's not mirrored, boost the pitiful download speeds of the SingStore, something that would justify the purchase price. Instead, you'll get another 30 songs, same as the PS2 ones, and no advancement of the actual game -- again just like the PS2 versions.

[SingStar Vol. 2 Song List]
Aerosmith - Dude (Looks Like A Lady)
Bad English - When I See You Smile
Bobby Brown - My Prerogative
Boys Like Girls - Hero/Heroine
The Bravery - Believe
The Cure - Pictures of You
Elton John & Kiki Dee - Don't Go breaking My Heart
Eminem - Without Me
Gavin DeGraw - In Love With A Girl
Gnarls Barkley - Run (I'm A Natural Disaster)
Gold Frapp - Happiness
The Killers - When You Were Young
Lit - Miserable
The Mamas & The Papas - California Dreamin'
Natasha Bedingfield - Unwritten
The Offspring - Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)
Panic! At The Disco - Nine In The Afternoon
Paramore - CrushCrushCrush
Phantom Planet - California
P!nk - Just Like A Pill
The Police - Don't Stand So Close To Me
The Proclaimers - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)
Radiohead - Street Spirit
Rise Against - Prayer Of The Refugee
Sara Bareilles - Love Song
The Shins - New Slang
Tone Loc - Funky Cold Medina
Weezer - Beverly Hills
Yael Naim - New Soul
Young M.C. - Bust A Move

I criticized the PS2 releases for falling into a pattern of sameness and non-advancement, while in the same breath praised the PS3 release for actually adding something. It's only fair that I apply the same heavy-handed chastising when the very same practice is continued on the PS3. C'mon, Sony, don't let the next-gen versions of SingStar be a carbon copy of the PS2 ones. There's room for some seriously great ways of pushing new content out there, but so far the platform has been brilliant in concept only.

There's honestly no reason to pick up this release short of getting the songs in HD. Given that a decent number of them feature videos released long before hi-definition was even a consideration, it's even less of a value. Instead, these songs should have been put up on the SingStore as a cheaper collection that could be downloaded by all users.

As much as I love SingStar, I just can't condone this kind of lazy add-on-style approach to new songs. Put 'em on the store, add something new, or just don't bother, Sony. SingStar deserves better -- especially now that it's gone next-gen.
The Verdict
5.0

Do not pick this one up. Yes, it's SingStar, and it's still a blast, but there's zero reason why these songs couldn't have just been added to the very store that was created for this kind of thing. Leave the 30 song track packs to the PS2.

8.5Graphics:

The interface is still every bit as clean and slick as has been. Great stuff.

8.0Sound:

The collection this time around just isn't all that good, sorry guys.

9.0Control:

Aside from the rapping portions still being messed up, the rest of the game controls exactly as you'd expect for something driven by one's voice.

6.0Gameplay:

Look, Sony, if you're going to just copy and paste in a new set of songs without changing or fixing issues with your game, you're short-changing everyone who buys a copy.