SingStar Pop Hits Review (PS2)

SingStarís back to (ahem) hit me baby one more time, bringing with it over thirty new tracks ranging from Norah Jones to Britney and Lilly Allen to Akon, thereís something in the line-up for almost everyone. Strategy Informer takes a look to see if it is indeed the hit its name implies.

With pop classics from Britney...
...and recent tracks from Rihanna, thereís something for everyone in Pop Hits

SingStar Pop Hits is the eighth title in the incredibly popular and critically-acclaimed SingStar series but for those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, the premise is simple; grab a microphone and sing/scream at your telly box to your heartís content. Thatís it, no fancy gimmicks, no giant enemy crabs, and definitely no real-time weapon change for your little pop star wannabe. Itís literally karaoke for PlayStation 2, only with an in-game score counter to make a mockery of you rather than a drunken audience. Maybe youíll be lucky enough to have that as well, but obviously thatíll vary from player to player!

Scoring works through a simple pitch recognition system that has the player attempting to sing in tune in order to reach the highest score possible. Lyrics appear on screen to aid you from getting star struck, as well as a bar that travels horizontally across the screen so you can measure the required pitch. The higher the bar the higher the pitch, and the longer the bar the longer youíll have to hold that note. Itís an incredibly basic system and one that works exceptionally well.

Unfortunately thereís not all that much to do in Pop Hits with only one single-player mode available as well as the obligatory multiplayer mode, each requiring you to put your best singing voice on and slave through the numerous tracks to reach your goal. Single-player is an extremely basic and monotonous score-attack that has you reaching for the mic and attempting to perfect your score in order to try and reach musical stardom. Itís boring, itís slack and itís pretty much only in there as practice for the multiplayer. And thatís exactly whatíll be getting most peopleís play time, with support for up to eight players to face-off against each other as well as the ability to pair up for a musical duet, SingStarís multiplayer is where the game truly shines.

SingStar has, and always will be, designed primarily as a social party game. Appealing to all ages and to both genders, itís an uncompromisingly mass-market musical parade. If youíre embarrassed to put on your singing voice in front of other people then read no further, this isnít the game for you. For SingStar to work any inhibitions need to be left at the door and youíll need to have plenty of friends gathered to get the most out of it, but with that having been said, after a few drinks and the right company, itís some of the most fun you can get out of your aging PS2.

As far as the playlist goes Iím not one to say what makes good music, Iíll leave you to decide that for yourself, but Pop Hits arguably has the weakest line-up in the series because of a clear lack of focus to a particular theme, seemingly dictated by whatís popular in the charts rather than whatís good fun to sing. Thereís an extensive list of over thirty tracks in Pop Hits and whilst theyíre all great to listen to, only a handful of them are actually any fun to sing and youíll see yourself coming back to your favourite few time and time again.

Itís all been presented fantastically well though, with the original tracks and music videos packaged together nicely, itís just a shame that there havenít been any new ideas cobbled together at Sony HQ for this iteration of SingStar. Youíll see the same modes that were present in the last game and the games previous to that, but other than trying out each different song thereís absolutely no variation within the gameplay. Maybe thatís too much to ask for whatís essentially an add-on but it would have been nice to have seen something new in Pop Hits other than just constant karaoke.

At heart SingStar Pop Hits is the same game that was released over three years ago only with up-to-date tunes and music videos. Admittedly, with SingStar widely regarded as being the best karaoke game ever made thatís not necessarily a bad point, but I canít help but feel that all of the neat ideas and additions to the gameplay may have been held back for the reinvention of SingStar due to hit PS3 this July.

If youíre a fan of the SingStar series, throwing a party, or just feel like screaming your lungs out, SingStar Pop Hits is well worth taking a look at, but as with most mass-market products, donít expect something deep and engrossing thatíll keep you entertained for a long period of time.

Top Game Moment:
Watching your best mate attempt to sing JoJo - Leave (Get Out) on Hard after a booze-fuelled night out. There are no words...

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