Singstar: Queen; the PS3 Attitude ‘Party’ Review
In the interests of science (or more accurately, vocal destruction) we took up both our microphones and the challenge, and proceeded to sing to every song on the disc. Here we write about our highs, lows and this author’s bout of ‘razor throat’ somewhere around the middle ‘C’.
This review has two flavours: my own thoughts on the solo side of things, and the experience of a few of us when we got together to tackle some of Queen’s bigger hits.
I’ve been given strict instructions to not make rubbishÂ clichÃ©s. Naturally, you can expect plenty of them.
So, is Singstar: Queen a case of ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ or more of a ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’?
First things first. If you are not a fan of Queen, you need to know two things:
- This game is not for you.
- You should be locked up.
Now that is said and done, let’s get into with the fine detail.
When you fire up the game you are treated an opening sequence that has all the usual video snippets and sparkles you would expect from a compilation carrying the kind of expectation this release does. The overall look is far more accomplished than the ABBA SingStar that was released a while back, too.
The menu is the same as any other SingStar game, asÂ expected. You also still have access to any of the songs you have downloaded from the SingStore. This was particularly useful, for reasons we’ll get to.
The trackÂ list itself is predictably excellent, with mostÂ of Queen’s best-known and best-loved songs included. The PS3 version also benefits from an extra five tracks compared to the PS2 version, which is nice to know.
The disc has more tracks than the available downloadable content, and comes in at a slightly higher price as a result. The extra tracks you gain are all great and far outweigh the added premium. Plus, it is nice to have a shiny new disc to show for your hard-earned cash. However, we did notice one glaring omission: ‘Flash’ (ah-aaaah!) is nowhere to be seen, which is a great shame.
In phase one of the review process (and to get an advantage for phase two) I went through all the songs on the disc, singing the short version. I did this on my own and was massively dis-heartened to begin with.
The issue is that unless you are amazing at singing – which I am not – it is really hard to sing a number of the songs. I’d never realised that Freddy Mercury had quite such a wide vocal range. This acts as testament to just how much of a vocal genius Mercury was, but at the same time makes the game far harder than any SingStar to come before it.
Picture this: I’m standing in my living room, trying my best to build up enough courage to actually take the plunge and begin singing. I choose a song, something simple to start with.
Like ‘Killer Queen’.
The song starts and IÂ hit a brick wall. I’ve started off far too high, and have nowhere for my voice to go but down. Not only that, but the words are broken into syllables in order to make the pitching easier to get right.Â The big problem isÂ you wind up singing like a half-cut banshee.
Rather than eloquently rhyming off ‘caviar and cigarettes, well versed in etiquette, I was getting my tongue stuck round making the sounds for ‘ca-vee-argh and cig-argh-ets, well versed in et-ee-ket’.
Believe me, that sounds substantially less eloquent.Â Points not even awarded.
Naturally, I restarted the track, and – with the advantage of knowingÂ the lyrics – managed to warble through the song relatively unscathed. Even though I know every song in the game, I still found myself struggling with the lyrics at times. No matter how well you know any given song, it is human nature to only remember the best bits.
Result: A few measly points.
I tried another track, ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’. Now I was presented with the option of singing as either Freddie or Backing. I had never realised or appreciated how much backing was involved with the songs before. Nor had I realised just how hard it can be to harmonise when the main tone you hear in the song is said backing.
Result: Points taken off.
My PS3 is starting to look at me in disgust.
Then comes my biggest issue, ‘freestyle’. Not knowing what a particular ‘ooh’, ‘aah’ or ‘yeah’ is meant to sound like makes it very hard not to sound like an arthritic geriatric. Which the late great Mercury certainly wasn’t. Moreover, I’ve discovered that Freddie liked his freestyling. A lot.
The upside is that the game doesn’t score you on these, so you are allowed to sound daft when you freestyle.
After getting the hang of the nuances of the songs, it has to be said that there is a great deal of enjoyment to be had from playing the solo game. Granted, it can be frustrating, it is as hard as nails and, dammit, it keeps you trying again and again. The promise of points would keep a certain type of gamer attempting to beat their own top score for hours. A certain type of gamer like, say, our resident trophy-whore, Danny_D.
We all know that SingStar was never designed to be a solo experience. As with so much in life, what you can do alone is enjoyed far more in the company of others. (Ahem). Hence phase two of the review.
On Saturday, a bunch of my friends came over and had some beers. It was all very innocent untilÂ we broke out the mics. After some gentle encouragement, partial bruising and the promise of tequila slammers for the best performance, we re-enacted some of the most famous videos in the Queen repertoire.
The advantage of playing the game with friends is enormous. Somehow you manage to get the (Dutch?) courage to go for that really long high note. Fail or not, you’re guaranteed a jibeÂ from your mates. Until it falls to them to pull off a triple-breve high-D, that is.
Misery loves company, someone famously said. This may be the single reason that makes this game work. Let’s face it: the average Joe Bloggs who buys this game does notÂ have a hope in hell of being even half as good as the late Freddie Mercury. But that’s not the point. No, the point here is to have funÂ trying.
The downside of this particular version of SingStar is in the title.
With Queen being the only option as far as song choice goes, it can quickly become tiresome. After the first hour we decided to change over to downloaded songs. It was a simple process with no disc swapping, and provided a great change in pace.
Before long, we decided to go back and try the biggest (andÂ as-yet untested)Â Queen song of all.
A short time later, and our attempt at “Bohemian Rhapsody” had resulted in:
a) My voice failing for the rest of the night,
b) One egg-shaped bump on my friend’s noggin from over-enthusiastic head-banging, and
c) Enough alcohol consumed to make Amy Winehouse blanch.
It was time to call it a night.Â Suffice to say that the Scotland branch of PS3 Attitude Towers will never be the same again.
MuchÂ later the following day, once the devastationÂ had been cleared and some semblance of normality returned, I had the chance to checkÂ out some of the videos we had recorded.
Based on these (not to be uploaded) videos, I wholeheartedly recommend this game. The game should be used as an ice-breaker by law firms. It should be used for bribery purposesÂ by workers concerned about their job security. It ought to be in every student’s flat and you really need to get your mother-in-law to have a go at it.
After all, who doesn’t know the rough tune to at least one Queen song?
To coin a phrase, Singstar: Queen is the ‘crowning glory’ in the series to date. Get it? Queen…?Â crowningÂ glory…?
[Ed: No Staff Writers were harmed during the writing of this review. You, however, might be if you don't drink responsibly...]