When Sony's E3 2009 press conference opened up with Queen's "One Vision", I knew that it was a nod to their upcoming SingStar Queen game (which has been available overseas for months now). The song itself was actually a fitting choice for Sony and the PlayStation brand, minus the whole "one man" part. Regardless, hearing "One Vision" played at the conference set off a spark in me, as I found myself really wanting to play SingStar Queen and growing envious of our friends overseas who have had their game for a while. That day has arrived, and SingStar Queen is finally here.
What sets this Queen game apart from all of the other SingStar titles in the past is the sheer level of complexity behind every vocal performance of a Queen song. There's no doubt about it that this is the most difficult SingStar game to be released, and that's to be expected when you're talking about a band with melodies that thrived on the massively dynamic abilities of Freddie Mercury and the band's unison operatic choiring. I will say that I did find some issues with how the vocals were picked out for some of the songs. In other words, in some songs you'll sing parts that are less relevant despite something more relevant being sang.
For example, vocals that are more background material are sometimes used for player-one to sing in some of the songs. The last minute or so of "Somebody to Love" is a clear example where the game completely overlooks Mercury and has you concentrate on singing the backing chorus until the very end. I figured perhaps this is something that is fixed when playing with another singer, but it isn't. And of course, if you know "Somebody to Love" then you should know about the little bits Mercury delivers while the chorus curtains the song. There are numerous of these little quibbles from a few other songs, and I'd say they're pretty odd oversights.
Now, I do this in all of the SingStar reviews, and this one is no different…If you're not familiar with SingStar, here's quick crash course. The series uses a very clean user interface, one that even a five year old can navigate. But new to this interface for SingStar Queen is optional voice control, so you can make your selections using your microphone as a controller. Gameplay allows for a practice session, or play for points and attempt to score the best record. Because, karaoking is an activity that you don't normally do alone, feel free to call over another seven friends and compete in an eight-player activity. If you're wondering how SingStar games work, the game's superb voice recognition system will measure the tone and pitch of your voice, and instantly display your performance on the screen, as the vocal bars scroll along.
The object is to fill the bars on screen with accuracy by singing as accurately as possible. If you go flat, you'll get color below the bar; likewise, if you go sharp, you'll get color above the bar. It's a very intuitive system, and figuring out how it works doesn't take any longer than 10 seconds. Going on what the European version has, SingStar Queen boasts a collection of 25 tracks from a wide assortment of Queen's work, 20 for the PS2 version.
Below is the list of songs currently found in the European version. The asterisk denotes a PS3 exclusive song:
A Kind of Magic*
Another One Bites the Dust
Crazy Little Thing Called Love
Don't Stop Me Now
Fat Bottom Girls
Hammer to Fall*
I Want It All
I Want to Break Free
Play the Game
Radio Ga Ga*
Somebody to Love
The Show Must Go On*
These Are the Days of Our Lives
Tie Your Mother Down
We are the Champions
We Will Rock You
Who Wants to Live Forever
You’re My Best Friend
As you can see, the five songs from the PlayStation 3 version are extremely important, so you're probably much better off with the PS3 game if you're debating on saving $10 between versions. "Killer Queen" and especially Mercury's final hurrah "The Show Must Go On" simply cannot be missed. And of course, when you're singing along to every song, a music video for that song will roll in the background, so you're getting 25 music videos, as well. But just one note, the music video to "The Show Must Go On" is actually a montage of video-clips, seeing as how Mercury was, sadly, in no condition to ever perform the song on stage or even record a video for it.
On a slightly lighter note, I do believe that SingStar Queen has the potential to spawn some really awesome videos on the SingStore network, I'd really love to see just how well people can capture Mercury's sound. Just one favor, let's keep the Paul Rodgers stuff to ourselves.