When Karaoke Revolution was first released on the PlayStation 2 last November, it was an easy game to like. The technology was impressive, and it was a big break from the norm as far as the music and rhythm genre was concerned. Now, Konami and Harmonix have reteamed to deliver Karaoke Revolution Volume 2. The game offers a couple of new modes and options, but it's basically just a new batch of songs for you to sing, and how much you'll get out of the game is tied directly to your interest in the songs on the disc.
Karaoke Revolution's key mechanic is its ability to detect pitch. The game requires a USB microphone, and it also requires you to sing. The lyrics to a song are spit out, along with a scrolling series of bars that is used to determine the pitch at which you must sing. If you're singing on key, an indicator arrow will line up with these bars. If you're singing too flat or too sharp, the arrow will be below or above the bar, respectively. The game doesn't care what octave you're singing in, so don't worry about trying to take on some of the higher-pitched pop songs if you're a baritone. As long as your pitch is on-point, you'll do just fine. The game has four different levels of strictness to its judging, so anyone should be able to do reasonably well after a little practice.
Karaoke Revolution Volume 2 has a few different modes that let you sing the songs in various settings. Medley is the most interesting of the new modes because it lets you pick a handful of songs--and then you are fed the music in rapid-fire succession. You can also go through a career mode, which only gives you a choice of four songs each time you're set to sing. This is where you'll unlock new songs and costumes for your onscreen representative, who croons onstage in one of the game's many environments that range from a garage party to a gigantic arena. Karaoke Revolution Volume 2 also has a new quickplay option that lets you just jump right in and start singing. Additionally, some modes give you the option between belting out the full version of a song or a shortened version of it. The first game didn't always give you an entire tune, so having this choice is a nice touch.
Once you've resigned yourself to vocalizing in front of your television and your friends, the single, biggest factor in your enjoyment of the game revolves around your own musical tastes. Karaoke Revolution Volume 2 contains a wide variety of music, both new and old. Like the original, and like most karaoke experiences, the tracks you'll sing aren't actually the original versions. So you'll get "songs in the style of" bands like The Darkness, Madonna, Britney Spears, Rick Springfield, Three Days Grace, The Police, Garth Brooks, Gloria Gaynor, and so on. While the song list is rather long, the diversity also works against the game a bit. You're certain to find at least one or two songs that you could get into singing. But getting excited about the entire catalog is pretty tough, so you probably won't be too fond of most of what is offered. Sticking to one theme, genre, or time period would probably limit the game's appeal a bit, but those who are into the specific nature of such a release would probably get a lot more out of it.
The audio in the game is really the only part that matters, and the songs are done well. Most importantly, you can adjust several different facets of the game's sound. So you can adjust the microphone level, turn down the lead vocals that are already on a track, or even turn up the earpiece on your headset for improved in-ear monitoring. The quality of the songs is good, and it's pretty much what you'd expect from a collection of covers put together for the sake of karaoke. Still, singing to the actual, original recordings would be a lot cooler.
While the graphics aren't all that important, there is a visual side to the game. The different environments and stages all look decent and are full of various lighting effects and other neat tricks. You won't spend much time looking at anything beyond the words and the pitch meter, but the stuff behind it is passable.
All things considered, Karaoke Revolution Volume 2 isn't very different from the first game at all. The new medley and quickplay modes bring a bit more to the table, but the technology is inherently less impressive the second time around, and the scattered song catalog means that you might just want to rent this one, sing the four songs you can identify with, and then move on. However, this installment does still have its place in a group environment and makes for a good party game.