LEIPZIG, Germany--Sony's certainly been bigging up SingStar on the PlayStation3 for a while now, and gamers across the globe are beginning to clamour for a chance to try it out. Back at E3 '06, when the company was ramping up for the launch of its latest console, SingStar was one of the first games it decided to show off. Well, after porting the game and working on an iTunes-like online store to support it, it finally seems like the game is set for release. The game was out in force at this year's Leipzig Games Convention, and we risked no end of personal embarrassment to bring you this hands-on preview.
The high-definition update to SingStar has certainly been kind on the game's visual interface, which looks slicker than ever before. You can download and select a number of different background themes for the game from within the options menu, and the Leipzig demo featured 14 different images with such exotic names as "Afternoon Delight" and "Winter Wunderland," in addition to various noir colours. Owners of the new PlayStation Eye camera will be glad to know that you can still swap your own image in place of the original music videos. But with this being an Internet-enabled console, you can also upload snapshots and videos from your fine performances for other people to 'enjoy' thanks to the wonder of the Internet.
Although the debug console running the game wasn't online, there was a placeholder image for the SingStore service that gave us an idea of what to expect. A number of albums look like they'll be available, including Gorillaz' Demon Days, Coldplay's X&Y, and OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below. There's also an area called "My SingStar Online" in which the aforementioned images and videos are contained, as well as a friends list full of the people to whom you've subjected your singing.
The same familiar modes from the PlayStation 2 SingStar make an appearance in the PlayStation 3 version. The solo mode allows those without friends nearby to practice or just let out some stress (which singing is apparently very good for), but it's the two-player battle mode that will provide the most entertainment. If that sounds a bit too confrontational, then you can also have a friendly duet, and if you're having a party you can pass the mic between up to eight people on two teams of four. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that the microphones are still corded. We hold out hope for wireless models either from Sony or a third-party manufacturer.
The demo at Leipzig showcased 36 songs that could be sorted alphabetically by song or artist. The interface has a much livelier feel to it on the PS3, mainly thanks to the high-resolution artwork, which fades into a preview of the music video as you hover over it. The mix of tunes in the demo was eclectic to say the least, with Britney Spears' "Toxic" and Pussycat Dolls' "Beep" sitting alongside The Killers' "Mr Brightside" and Radiohead's "No Surprises." The rap mode has been carried over from the PS2 for songs such as Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc.," as does the duet mode for The Zutons' "Valerie." The medley mode seems to have been replaced with various artists collected by theme, such as "indie hits," "don't stop the pop," and "party time."
Although SingStar on the PS3 looks to be taking advantage of new technology with graphical updates and online functionality, it's still the same PS2 game underneath. For example, you can still hum the words in the right tone and the game will reward you as if you knew the words by heart. However, that doesn't stop it from being riotous in the right crowd, and as long as the SingStore is constantly updated, it should prove to be highly addictive for karaoke fans. It's now at the 80% complete stage, so let's hope Sony finally gets the game out before Christmas.