The eclectic mixes on previous iterations of Karaoke Revolution have done a good job appealing to the masses, but one of the things Karaoke Revolution fans have been clamoring for is for genre-specific releases. Finally the fans have been heard – sort of. As you may or may not have already guessed, Karaoke Revolution: Country, the fifth game in Konami's popular karaoke series focuses solely on country music. If you're a fan of country music, particularly modern songs, you'll have a great time with the game, but anyone less than a diehard country fan will find little enjoyment here.
KR: Country's core gameplay is identical to Karaoke Revolution: Party. Unlike the first three games, where you had to perform songs in groups, you can now choose any song and venue right out of the gate. New items and songs are unlocked based on how many platinum albums you've gotten, and not by clearing a specific "area" like previous games.
If you're unfamiliar with how the game is played, well, it's karaoke. You pick a song and then sing along with it, matching your pitch to the bars on screen. If you're too high, the arrow points down, and if you're too low, the arrow points up, indicating you need to raise your pitch. Even if you're as tone deaf as Ashlee Simpson you can find a difficulty level that will suit your "talents." Hardcore crooners will enjoy the duet mode, which takes some real skill to play (as well as two microphones). There's also a training mode to help you learn the ins and outs of how the game is played and how you are judged.
For some reason, support for the DDR dance pad has been removed, even though it was in Karaoke Revolution: Party. Sure it wasn't a big selling point, but it's odd that features would actually be removed. Isn't line dancing a huge part of the whole "Boot Scootin' Boogie" experience? It can't be that hard to program a few dance steps in there.
KR: Country's graphics are virtually unchanged from the last game, which in turn didn't look a whole lot different than the game before it. There are tons of wacky characters to choose from, each with a unique look, and there are plenty of costumes and accessories to dress them up in should their look not be unique enough for you. There are a variety of areas to perform in such as a garage, a country bar, an American Idol type setting, an arena, music video set, and several other places. Some areas use the EyeToy to project video into the background which is kind of cool but nothing too exciting.
As you could in KR: Party, you can use the EyeToy to create a 3D model of your head for the game. For some reason, however, you can't simply use your character from KR: Party and you've got to create a new one if you want to start in the game. It takes up a fair amount of space on your memory card, but the results are impressive. Sometimes they're a little bit creepy, but they're impressive nonetheless.
There's no denying the fact that until recently, Country music was largely a niche genre that had limited commercial appeal. As a result, it's not surprising that the song list here is almost entirely focused on modern songs, leaving you out of luck if you're into the classics. At 35 songs, the number of tunes is also disappointing. Since many of the songs sung by females aren't that enjoyable for a guy to sing and vice versa, you'll quickly find that your repertoire of songs you enjoy performing is significantly less than 35. If Harmonix was going to focus on one genre and was really trying to appeal to fans, they should have had at least another 20 songs here.
Enough griping about the soundtrack – let's have a look at some of the songs:
9 to5, All My Ex's Live in Texas, As Good As I Once Was, Boot Scootin' Boogie, Chattahoochee, Celebrity, Crazy, Does He Love You, Don't Worry ‘Bout A Thing, Friends in Low Places, Gone, Good Ol' Boys, Goodbye Earl, Hot Mama, How Do I Live, I Like it, I Love it, I Walk the Line, I'm Movin' On, Independence Day, It's A Great Day to Be Alive, It's Five O'Clock Somewhere, It's Your Love, Mommas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys, Mud on the Tires, My Give a Damn's Busted, On the Road Again, Redneck Woman, Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy), She Thinks My Tractor's Sexy, Stand by Your Man, Suds in the Bucket, The Gambler, What Was I Thinkin', When the Sun Goes Down, Wide Open Spaces.
If you're a karaoke fan and you love Country music, then you'll absolutely enjoy Karaoke Revolution: Country. That said, with a more robust number of songs and dance pad support, it really could have been much better. If you're not a diehard fan of Country, there's not a chance in hell you'll have a good time with this game – unless you're singing a tune here and there at a party. Harmonix could have done a better job here; it's asking a lot of your fans to pony up $40-$55 for a game that has fewer features and songs than the previous game in the series.