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Official Review: SingStar Guitar

SingStar Guitar is currently only available in AUS and EU as a disc, or as a DLC from the PSN. As of SingStar update version 5.0, at least in EU and AUS, the availability of playing a guitar is there, even without purchasing SingStar Guitar. You will, however, need to purchase guitar compatible tracks, or guitar upgrades for songs already owned. With that in mind, SingStar Guitar is basically just a new SingStar title with the standard “30 new songs”, that are all guitar compatible.

SingStar has been around since 2004 in the UK and since 2007 in NA, where it got its start on the PS2. Including the newest SingStar Guitar, this PlayStation-exclusive series has had 32 different releases, many being exclusive to certain regions. SingStar, in general, is a Karaoke game, for 1 or more players, with a variety of game modes. The standard singing mode allows one or two people to sing together as a duet, or to sing individually, competing for the most points. There is also a “Pass the Mic” mode, which can accommodate up to eight people, playing a series of rounds in two teams.

With the new addition of SingStar Guitar, they have added the ability to use any PS3-compatible guitar controller for 1 or 2 players. This also opened the game up to allow four performers at one time, with two on microphones singing, and two on guitars. If one is so inclined, you can play both the guitar and sing at the same time. Unlike Guitar Hero or Rock Band, you don’t need to create or add two players to do both, but instead add yourself to both microphone and the guitar. I tried it myself on a few songs, and it was quite a challenge, even with the couple songs I know well. It was, however, a lot of fun.

Instead of creating your own band members, or customizing an avatar to watch as you play, the SingStar series shows the actual music video for the song you are playing. This was a pleasant change in my opinion. An exception to the music video, is the ability to use a PlayStation Eye. The PS Eye will show you as you play, as well as take photos, record your audio-feed, and even film a video of the whole session. The video can then be partially edited, I believe 30 seconds worth, with special effects and tone changes. Here is a short trailer that shows what it would look like using the EyeToy:

The photos, videos, and audio files can then be uploaded and shared on SingStar’s community portal to be viewed online by others. This was also a very welcomed feature, and very popular among my children and their friends. The photos are taken at regular intervals during a song, or you can tell SingStar to take your picture, up to 5 times, by tilting the guitar. The latter will also earn you one of the seven new trophies available for adding guitar capability to SingStar.

The guitar play in SingStar Guitar is, in my opinion, the equivalent to playing a simplified version of the guitar play in RockBand or Guitar Hero. There are only three difficulty levels, Easy, Medium and Hard, using 3, 4 and 5 of the guitar buttons respectively. There isn’t any choice of guitar type, lead vs. bass guitar for example. The “button highways”, or tracks do vary with difficulty levels, but that’s it. If two players are playing on the same level of difficulty, they are playing the same sequence of buttons. This does allow for more bragging rights in a competition, however, as the button variation can’t be blamed for lack of score. Here is a complete solo guitar playthrough of “Steady as She Goes” by Cameron (CrazedGeek) from YouTube:

There is also no possibility of failing, which is always nice for the children, or allows for a quick drop in/drop out way of playing. Every song has a max score of 10,000 points, whether you play alone, or with a group. This is good in that you can compare how well you play one song verses another. In RockBand or Guitar Hero, you can score more points on a song you actually don’t play as well as a song you play perfect. There is no career mode nor any challenges, with the exception of just scoring the max 10,000 points on a song.

The song list for SingStar Guitar is similar to other SingStar titles, in that it leans toward more Pop-style songs than the two Rock centered games. It also has the SingStar standard 30 tracks, which include:

– 3 Doors Down – Kryptonite
– Bloc Party – Helicopter
– Blur – Song 2
– Buzzcocks – Ever Fallen In Love with Someone
– Colbie Caillat – Bubbly
– David Bowie – The Man Who Sold the World
– Elbow – Grounds for Divorce
– Florence and the Machine – Kiss With a Fist
– Franz Ferdinand – No You Girls
– Jamiroquai – Too Young to Die
– Kaiser Chiefs – I predict a riot
– Kasabian – Fire
– KT Tunstall – Suddenly I See
– Ladyhawk – My Delirium
– Muse – Supermassive Black Hole
– Paramore – CrushCrushCrush
– Pixies – Debaser
– Pulp – Disco 2000
– Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure
– Stereophonics – Just Looking
– The Stone Roses – Waterfall
– The Clash – Rock the Casbah
– The Cult – She Sells Sanctuary
– The Cure – The Lovecats
– The Raconteurs – Steady As She Goes
– The Veronicas – Untouched
– The White Stripes – Fell In Love with a Girl
– Tina Turner – Steamy Windows
– U2 – Beautiful Day
– Vampire Weekend – A Punk

More songs can be purchased off of the PSN, however the Guitar compatible songs are very limited at this time. On a positive note, if you already own the song without guitar compatibility, you can pay a smaller fee to upgrade the song, without having to re-buy it.

As I mentioned above, there are only 7 new trophies added for SingStar Guitar, and I felt that was very lacking. Here are all the added trophies:
– Guitar Starter bronze
Play Your first guitar song

– A Place where deals are made gold
Defeat our resident guitarist! Achieve over 9744 on hard mode on any ‘normal’ length song

– Duelling…banjos? bronze
Play any song with two guitars

– Drop the hammers silver
Plays 1000 hammer-on or pull-off notes

– Hold the line bronze
Play held notes for a total of 300 seconds

– Shake the house down bronze
Use the whammy bar on held notes for a total of 300 seconds

– Top the balance bronze
Use the guitar tilt to take a snapshot

Over all, this game is summed up by saying, “It’s SingStar with the availability to use a guitar.” It was definitely entertaining for a while, however with only 30 songs, I quickly got tired of hearing the same songs over and over. This game has always been for fans of karaoke, however, with the addition of a guitar, it also becomes enjoyable for those who don’t like the spotlight to easily sit back and play along with a guitar. It’s a very welcome addition to SingStar, however it is definitely not a full “Guitar-Band” game replacement.

[review pros=”Adds a guitar to SingStar for your non-singing friends to join in on the fun.
Guitar mode is quick and easy for casual gamers.  
Availability to make a real live Music Video (although this isn’t a new feature).
Load times are almost non-existent.
” cons=”Only seven new trophies that are almost too easy to accomplish.
Limited guitar-compatible song choices at this time.
No career mode.
No challenges.
” score=68]

This review is based on a retail copy of the PS3 version of SingStar Guitar provided by SCE London Studio.