For the decade that proceeded the appearance of all things Wii and DS, Sony were praised for inviting groups that wouldn’t traditionally game into our world of electronic fantasy.
Of all the franchise that have played a major part in this shift in customer focus, the SingStar series is one of the premium. Each variation of the series, of which there are already over a dozen, continually sell by the truck load. And for online gamers there’s even the option to purchase and instantly download tracks from a healthy sized pool.
So it’s little shock that Microsoft have finally slinked along a similar route. Lips is basically the 360’s version of SingStar, with the traditionally high Microsoft production levels attempting to nudge this one up towards an absolute must-have for Christmas.
Firstly, the wireless microphones are obviously a major plus. The lack of wires makes drunken karaoke an affair much less fraught with danger of stumbling over lengthy cords. Their gaudy lights only help make them appear much more solid and professional.
It even helps invite one of the games most intriguing features. At points you’ll be prompted to initiate a pose, which if you perform admirably enough you’ll instigate something similar to “star power” in the Guitar Hero games helping nudge your score ever higher.
The high levels continue with the track selection. There’s a wide variety of genre’s and eras, making sure that just about everyone is catered for. There’s none of the “flavour of the month” pop-based rubbish that continually seems to populate the SingStar series.
Then there’s the ability to croon along to any track you have stashed away on your MP3 player. Attach your iPod or similar device to your Xbox 360 and you’ll be able to sing along to every single track you’re packing. Sadly the rumoured inclusion of the game’s ability to download lyrics has failed to materialise, so you’ll need to make sure you know the tracks off by heart.
But despite all these features and inclusions, Lips ultimately fails in taking the karaoke top spot. Where SingStar has included online play, difficulty settings, and the ability to upload performances to the SingStore, Lips really misses these kind of invigorating inclusions.
The lack of difficulty settings make the single player mode virtually redundant, with even the most tone deaf of crooners bagging a top score as long as they can get somewhere vaguely close to the tune.
Which leaves Lips as a purely multiplayer title. But even with the ability to sing along to any track you wish, things still feel a little bare. Strangely there’s nothing in the way of Xbox Live Vision Camera support, which means you can’t even record a performance to your hard drive for future viewings, never mind upload them to share on the web.
It’s a shame that Lips lacks so many essential features, as some new inclusions do make a lot of sense. Plugging in your iPod and singing along to your entire library of tracks is a sheer joy.
But the lack of online options, no camera support, and a lack of difficulty settings leave this one a poor step behind the SingStar games for crooners everywhere.