Review: Singstar Legends (PS2)

Singstar Legends
Genre: Singing/Rhythm game
Developer: SCEE London
Publisher: SCEA
Release Date: 11/04/08


A word, before we begin: as Singstar Legends is functionally identical to the billion other Singstar games before it (most notably Singstar Pop Vol. 2), so too will the review be mostly identical. There’s no reason to re-write a review if Sony isn’t interested in renovating the game; as such, new commentary will be italicized, while the core content of the review will remain unchanged. If you’ve read that review already, feel free to skip to the italicized text. Suffice it to say, however, if you own any of the various other Singstar games already, whether or not you feel the need to own Singstar Legends will depend exclusively on whether or not you feel the need to spend thirty dollars on more songs; if you do, this is good, but if not, it isn’t.

As noted previously regarding the PS3 version of Singstar, it is a generally fun, enjoyable experience, mostly because of the ability to download new songs and watch/make videos of ridiculous behavior while playing the game. The PS2 games, lacking either of those features, generally get by because of their price point: you can, in most respects, acquire the games, sans microphones, for about thirty dollars, and as each game contains about thirty songs, well, the cost-to-value ratio is generally pretty good. As such, however, rating such a game is somewhat difficult at the best of times, largely because it’s really designed to just be an expansion of the prior titles, and as such, whether or not you’re going to want to buy the game is going to come down to whether or not the track list is worth owning. Singstar Legends does present a tracklist that features a bunch of songs you can’t sing anywhere else (well, mostly), so it has that much going for it, and if you’ve never played one of the games before (and don’t own a PS3) it’s not a bad buy at all, but whether or not its worth your thirty dollars will really depend on your personal tastes.

So, as with every other Singstar title ever, there’s no story, so let’s look at the gameplay modes. All of the modes from the various other versions are here, from solo, duet and battle modes for one or two players to “Pass the Mic” play that lets you switch players mid-song for up to eight players to freestyle karaoke play that just lets you sing without having to earn points (or match pitches). As is the standard for the franchise, there’s nothing to unlock, nothing to earn, and nothing to strive to accomplish; you’re given thirty songs to sing across a bunch of different modes, as well as the ability to switch out your disc at any time for another disc from the franchise. The variety in gameplay comes from being able to access any song in any Singstar game you own at any time, which is what makes the experience so fun and adaptable, since you can go from pop tunes to 80’s tunes in a flash. As party games go, it has enough modes and options to be instantly accessible, and offers enough to do to keep it in rotation, though there’s nothing new or exciting here, as there hasn’t been in any of the PS2 releases since the first.

Visually, Singstar Legends, as with all games in the series, shows you the music video of the song you’re singing, the words to sing, the pitches to hit, and the odd words of encouragement as you play. As usual, the videos are all top quality, and the interface and menus look good and are easy to navigate. If you, for whatever reason, don’t like the videos, you can always hook up your Eyetoy and watch yourself singing the songs, if, you know, you’re not already embarrassed enough at the idea of your bad singing that you feel the need to be shamed further. As far as the audio goes, again, all of the songs are the master recordings, so they’re pretty much perfect, and the background tunes that pop up while browsing menus are just fine.

The track list, on the other hand, is a MAJOR selling point for Singstar Legends, largely because almost ALL of the tracks are pure gold. The game title, Legends, is purely appropriate in this case, as nearly all of the songs in the game are instantly recognizable classics that most people, assuming they have a wide variety of musical interests, will be dying to play as soon as the game boots up. From Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” to The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil” to Nirvana’s “Nevermind” to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” to John Lennon’s “Imagine”, this disc is pure, unadulterated awesome, and nearly all of the tracks on the disc are classic tunes from classic musicians. Simply put: if you’re a Singstar fan, this disc should most likely be an instant sell for you, simply because there are so many tunes on the disc worth singing.

As far as gameplay is concerned, well, time for the copy paste:

“The gameplay in Singstar Legends consists almost entirely of singing, which probably isn’t much of a surprise. As in previous Singstar games, the words are displayed at the bottom of the screen, along with a series of bars that appear directly above it, some of which may be glittering. Your objective is to match the pitch of the actual song, so that your vocals trace across the bar, thus earning you points, moreso if you complete the glittering bars. If you’re off-pitch, your vocals will pop up either or above or below the bar you’re aiming for so as to indicate how off you are so that you can adjust, so you can adjust your pitch to try and score regardless. Depending on how you do, you’re given any one of a number of different descriptors like “Hopeful” based on your score. The game judges neither words nor tone, so you need not sound like Elton John to sing “I’m Still Standing”, nor do you have to sing the actual lyrics. The downside of this is that you can simply hum and earn points with no penalty, but on the upside, if you’re so inclined, you can feel free to come up with your own words to the songs and sing those instead. The game seems to respond well to your voice, and so long as your microphone works and you can match the pitch of the song, you should have no issues to speak of with the gameplay.”

Further, “If you know how a song goes, you’ll obviously be better off than if you don’t, but you can learn the song well enough with a little time, assuming you want to, and if you can match the pitch, you’re golden either way. Singstar Legends also offers rap sections in songs, where the song grades your “rapping” by judging if you match the tone of the original rap, more or less, without forcing you to hit the appropriate notes exactly. Singstar Legends also offers up “Freestyle” sections where you can pretty much do whatever you want (the game doesn’t score freestyle), so if you want to make an ass of yourself or whatever by making up your own little freestyle rap or song, by all means, knock yourself out, though if you don’t, you’re not obligated to do so either.”

Now, as this is a PS2 game, and is as such part of the PS2 series of Singstar games, all of the neat stuff the PS3 game featured, IE the ability to see people’s weird videos, the ability to download songs, and so on, are not in this version; as such, for the reduced price, you’re essentially getting a frontend with some songs stuffed into it. And again, that isn’t a bad thing; for thirty bucks, you’re getting a good, solid party product, and if you happen to own other games in the series, this is another disc you can swap in or out to keep things going, offering up more variety for gatherings and whatnot. Singstar Legends generally plays about as well as its predecessors, meaning that if you liked any of the other games, you’ll like this one too, so long as you like the tracklist.

However, as has been noted previously, “the biggest problem, of course, is that this is just another karaoke game, for better or worse. If you like Singstar as a brand, this is exactly like all the others; if you don’t, well, this is exactly like all the others.” Now, Singstar Legends is basically a pick up and play game, as everything is open and ready to use from the get-go, which means you can simply play it and enjoy it, but that ALSO means there’s no reason to play it outside of a social setting; without the ability to download tracks or watch videos that the PS3 version has, or the unlockables and character editing of a Karaoke Revolution, it’s basically really only going to get any use as a social game. That’s not a bad thing, by any means, but if the track list isn’t to your group’s liking, it might be difficult to justify picking up this iteration of the game.

That said, if your friends don’t like the songs on this disc, you should go and find some new friends.

However, those who own other Singstar games might want to note, as another minor complaint, that some of the songs in Singstar Legends are… well, more than a little familiar. The biggest offender is Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man”, which is a repeat from Singstar Rocks, and, well, other games, but that’s certainly more forgivable than appearing in two different Singstar games. Further, for those who own the PS3 games and actively use the Singstore, Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and The Monkey’s “Daydream Believer” are available there, which either means you’re spending thirty dollars on a game with two songs in it that you’ve already downloaded… or you didn’t want the songs in the first place. Also, while I get the “legend” status of Joy Division, can we all see the point here that including a song that is sung by a singer who isn’t very good at singing is a little counter-productive to the whole “playing a video game where you pretend to sing” concept? I mean, I think pretty much everyone reading this is about as good at singing as Ian Curtis was. No one wants to pretend they’re the tone-deaf monotone guy, we want to be Elton John, dammit.

Anyway, the point is that if you downloaded those two songs and own Singstar Rocks, you’re paying thirty dollars for twenty seven songs you don’t have and three you do. The other twenty seven songs are, in fairness, still mostly awesome, but it’s incredibly annoying to realize you own something twice, so if this bothers you, there you are.

The bottom line is, if you’re a karaoke game fan, or you love the tracklist, or you love social video games, Singstar Legends is probably worth your cash, as it’s a fun, easy to play karaoke game, just all of the other games in the series. It’s simple to play, good fun at parties, is completely compatible with the other discs in the series, and features a tracklist that definitely will have something on it everyone wants to sing. Singstar Legends can’t touch the PS3 version, of course, as it lacks the downloadable content and the online video watching, but if all you have is the PS2, it’s a fine choice, so long as you don’t expect anything new and different. Singstar Legends is still the same game as the franchise has always provided, for better or worse, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ll have fun with it. If you’re looking for something else, though, the PS3 version (or a Rock Band/Guitar Hero product) might be more your speed; the PS2 Singstar games are treading close to wearing out their welcome, and while Singstar Legends easily features the best track list of the last several games, bar none, it’s still the same old game underneath that. If you love the tracks on the disc, you’ll love this game, though, and of all of the recent PS2 Singstar releases, this is easily the best of the lot.

The Scores:
Game Modes: MEDIOCRE
Graphics: GREAT
Sound: UNPARALLELED
Control/Gameplay: GOOD
Replayability: GOOD
Balance: GOOD
Originality: WORTHLESS
Addictiveness: ABOVE AVERAGE
Appeal: ABOVE AVERAGE
Miscellaneous: MEDIOCRE
Final Score: ABOVE AVERAGE GAME.

Short Attention Span Summary:
Eighth verse, somewhat better than the first, Singstar Legends continues the trend of popping thirty tracks onto a disc and letting you play, with no frills or extras to speak of, though at least this time, the tracks are almost all awesome. The videos still look great, the songs still sound great, the game is still easy to play, and there’s still lots of fun to be had with a group of friends, especially if you have more than one game, since they can be easily swapped from the main menu. It’s still the same game as all of the other PS2 versions with different songs, however, and the song list is basically going to be the selling point for you with this one; if you want to sing some of the most memorable songs from some of the greatest artists of all time, you’ll be fully satisfied by Singstar Legends, but if not, it probably won’t be worth the thirty/fifty dollars (if you get the game only or the game and the mics) to add it to your collection… and also, there’s something wrong with you. If you love all karaoke games, Singstar Legends will probably be worth the money for you, but if you’re a little more selective, Singstar Legends is still mostly worth it, if only because of the awesome song selection.