SingStar Vol. 3
So here we are, Christmas 2008, and its already time for the third PS3 volume of old-hand SingStar to find its way onto shelves. Yes that's right we're onto number three already, folks. Surely its around this point when the criticisms routinely levelled at the series over the years should be being addressed, long called for new features getting added and gamers once again able to feel they're getting value for money from SingStar. No, you've guessed it, its not time for any of those things, instead it is another trip down a slightly disappointing track listing while you wonder wistfully about what could have been.
To get right down to it, this is SingStar exactly as you've seen it many many times before. Yes, there's the online community and downloadable content element introduced when the series made its way onto the PS3 but otherwise, when you boil things down, this is exactly the same game we saw a million times on the PS2 just with another new bundle of songs.
What we're offered is not even a particularly great selection of tracks, although to be fair my wife was far more excited about the songs on it than I was which no doubt says something about both of our musical tastes. If things like 'Shut Up And Let Me Go' (The Ting Tings), 'The Way I Are' (Timberland feat Keri Hilson), 'This Is the Life' (Amy McDonald), 'Oxford Comma' (Vampire Weekend) or 'Big Girls Don't Cry' (Fergie) are your thing then you'll be pleased enough. There's a nod to an older generation with 'Space Oddity' (David Bowie) and the classic 'Killer Queen' (Queen) which could be good at Christmas and there's even 'You Make Me Feel Like Dancing' (Leo Sayer) for, well, no-one probably.
Its just that by now all this is simply a little disappointing. We've all got used to picking and choosing the song we want to sing from Sony's frankly excellent online SingStore which makes shelling out for these compilations seem more than a bit limiting. The same money could be much better spent on downloads that you actually want to sing rather than the forced selection here that's only going to satisfy those with the most eclectic of musical tastes. I understand some people don't have PS3's that are online, and those new to SingStar have to buy at least one disk to get 'the game', so there is no doubt a market of sorts for disks like this but as something most existing fans will be wanting to buy they're now all but redundant.
Unfortunately the fact that the success of SingStore has all but killed off real demand for these disks is clearly taking its time to filter through to Sony. However, soon they're going to have to face the simple fact that the only way they're really going to drive sales of any further volumes is to actually make some changes and improvements to the underlying game. Its not like there's not room for some new bells and whistles, the long promised wireless microphones and the ability to use your PS2 SingStar disks for starters (features that are in-bound, but will be delivered unrelated to this particular release). It would also be nice to see some kind of improvement to the way your performance is scored, the vast power of the PS3 can surely provide a bit more depth to the experience, basic word recognition for example. Structurally too it would be nice to see some changes, support for more than two microphones, perhaps the ability to sing along to your own recordings or create duets of sorts.
Even the still relatively new online features aren't without their flaws now we've all got used to them. For example it would be nice to be able to upload more than the set number of video clips as well as have more control over how they're edited, not to mention which parts of the song are recorded. It's also a shame that we still don't have actual online multiplayer, something that could be amazing if done correctly.
So yes, to get back to SingStar Volume 3 itself, if you're new to SingStar PS3 and like the track listing then great, this is the one for you to start with. If you prefer the songs on either of the other two existing volumes then pick up one of those instead. However, if you've already got SingStar PS3 there's very little point looking at this unless you happen to like enough of the songs to make it worth the money. Chances are you'd be far better off spending the same amount of cash in the SingStore to on a selection of songs you genuinely love. Its not that this is a bad SingStar; its just that it is exactly as good or bad as SingStar always is. This will unfortunately be true of every new release from now until the end of time unless Sony actually get off their backsides and, oh I don't know, spend some time working on the game itself rather than just swapping the music over.