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E3 2006
E3 Hands On: SingStar (PS3)
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 21, 2006   |   Episode 20 (Show Archive)  


One of these days I am going to record Patrick singing and then all of you will be sorry!
You've just spent $600 on your brand new PlayStation 3 and you're looking for the type of product that will really show off your next generation game system. What do you do? Sony is betting that you'll want to sing a song. No really, that's what they're betting on.

Patrick and I were able to give Sony's newest karaoke simulator, SingStar, a day in court. This PlayStation 3 game (which will also be available on the PlayStation 2, from what we were told) features dozens of popular songs just waiting for your off-key singing to ruin them. You get popular hip hop, rhythm and blues, rock, alternative, and more when you decide to embrace SingStar, all music recorded by the original artists.

So what sets this apart from all those other karaoke programs (like Karaoke Revolution and Karaoke Night at your local Mexican restaurant)? Well, not much. You will see the music video playing behind your words which can be a little distracting (and it also reminds you that you look NOTHING like Madonna).

After listening to several women mumble through bad Destiny's Child songs it was my turn to step up and prove my worth. While I'm not selling out any shows, I do fancy myself as an adequate singer. That is, there are a few songs that I can sing and people won't cover their ears (heck, some even ask to hear them every time they are over). But I'm no American Idol, mostly because I can play guitar and sing at the same time (which is far and away more impressive than anything that has ever been on that Star Search retread).

I cycled through the various songs on this E3 demo and found one title I felt confident about: Blur's Song 2. Personally I was hoping they would have had Beetlebum, but I can settle for Song 2 (wooo hooo). Before the song even started Patrick was asked if he wanted to sing along ... and even though he had never heard the song before (which amazes me to this day) he decided to sing along.

Last year we had Patrick hugging busty models, this year we make him look like a fool!
I grabbed that mic and did everything I could to make Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and the rest of the band proud. I managed to stay in tune and belt out most of the words (even with a fake British accent that I am in no way proud of). But then there was Patrick who was like a fire alarm. I mean that in the nicest possible way. With him not knowing the words, not knowing the tune, and not even realizing that half of Blur is in the Gorillaz, it ended up being quite a debacle.

Later Patrick would defend his performance by saying he had never heard the song before, but that doesn't excuse what he did to Franz Ferdinand. When it was Patrick's turn I let him have the first-player microphone so that I could study the game and take pictures of him looking like a buffoon singing karaoke. But let's not be too harsh on young Patrick, to his credit he did know all of the lyrics to his song and knew when to come in. The fact that it didn't sound good was inconsequential.

While watching him "play" I noticed that the game actually showed you how off key you were, which proved to be quite entertaining to watch. When you play there is a line you are trying to hit, if you are in tune you will gain points and everything will be good. If you're off then you'll see your voice bar lift above the line (or slump below it). If you aren't even close then you can't see the line at all. This gives the non-musically inclined gamers a chance to practice where their voice (and lets the rest of the people make fun of them).

Sadly I was unable to record Patrick's attempt at Take Me Out, but I assure you that it is well worth hearing.

But How Good is It? The idea is good (and I can imagine this being the type of thing you play when your non-gamer friends are over), but it wasn't that different from all of those other karaoke games. Maybe it was just the fact that I had a crummy Franz Ferdinand cover damaging my hearing, but the game just didn't draw me in like I hoped it would. I guess I just prefer things like Amplitude and Guitar Hero. It will be nice to be able to download whatever songs you want via Sony's online front end, but how much will that cost? The idea is good, but this is not the type of thing people go to E3 to play!


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