Sony's popular SingStar franchise is about to hit the PlayStation 3 for the first time, with wannabe crooners in Australia and the UK able to get the game in the first week of December (and perhaps early next year for gamers in the US). While our previous coverage of the game has focused mainly on the updated interface, we managed to spend some more quality time with SingStar PS3 at the eGames Expo in Melbourne to check out the much-vaunted SingStore.
In terms of gameplay (or is that singplay?), SingStar for the PS3 is much the same as previous games in the series. You basically use a USB-attached microphone to sing along to songs, with the game measuring both pitch and timing to gauge how well you're doing. The retail disc of SingStar will come packed with 36 songs, but one of Sony's key additions is the online SingStore, where you'll be able to buy and download new songs to add to your karaoke collection.
Sony says more than 40 songs will be available for purchase through the SingStore on launch day, with plans to regularly add more in the coming months. The SingStore is accessed via the online section of the main menu of SingStar, with songs available for purchase organised by genre, such as pop, rock, indie/alternative, R&B, duets, rap, and more. From the preview build we saw at eGames, it looks like previous SingStar titles--such as SingStar Pop, Rock, and Anthems--will also be available for download. Individual songs will cost from A$2.49 in Australia or 99p in the UK. Download sizes seem to be between the 50MB and 65MB mark--this includes the standard-definition video clip of the song. Sadly, we couldn't track down any HD clips in the SingStore in our brief time with the preview build.
But the online traffic doesn't just flow one way in SingStar. This latest version of the game also lets you upload pictures and even short video clips of yourself on the microphone (using an attached EyeToy camera, of course) onto SingStar Online, a community-focused site for SingStar PS3 owners around the world. In SingStar Online, you can view other people's pictures and videos and even vote via a five-star scale on each person's performance.
Uploading your rendition of hit songs seems to be a fairly easy process. The recording of both snapshots and 30- to 60-second clips is handled automatically once you have an EyeToy camera plugged into the PS3. In every song you sing, the PS3 will randomly take shots. A few times during each song, the camera will also take short snippets of video, warning you when you have to put in those extra high notes, via a blinking camera indicator in the corner of the screen. Once the song is finished, you can choose to either save or thrash the recording, with the added option of uploading the saved section to SingStar Online. Of course, if you're not the exhibitionist type, you can choose never to upload any of your virtuoso performances.
SingStar for the PS3 looks to be a welcome addition for fans of the series. Look out for the game on Aussie and UK store shelves soon.