SingStar Popworld

SingStar Popworld introduces rap scoring to the SingStar series, featuring three rap tracks amongst this offering. Erik B. and Rakim's "Paid In Full" is purely rap, whilst tracks by OutKast and Black Eyed Peas mix rap with singing.

Rap scoring really isn't all that clear. There's a meter to indicate whether or not you're doing well, but not much in the way of helping you to get things right. Do you get extra points for getting the rhythm right and putting the accent on the correct word, or do you just need to say something at the right time, no matter how quietly? There's nothing to show this, and if you get something wrong it's hard to tell which part of the line you made mistakes on. Part of the problem is rap's inherent speed: the words fly by so fast there's no time to think of anything else before it's all done. It's not the ideal genre for this type of game.

Fortunately you can turn rap scoring off and concentrate solely on the singing. Although even when they're not rap, some of the tracks on this game are very fast.

It's a fairly broad mix of songs, with a few oldies thrown in. The majority are fairly recent pop hits, however. The one jarring mistake in the inclusion of OutKast's Roses, a track which manages to combine misogyny, cringeworthy stereotypes and an obsession with excrement in one tasteless package. Who really wants to sing about that? If you're thinking of buying this for children who are still young enough to find that kind of thing amusing, save yourself the tedium and get almost any other version of SingStar.

Other than that, there isn't an awful lot to criticise about this selection. It covers various vocal ranges and the tracks vary in their difficulty level. It's not obvious what the point of the Popworld branding is, since the Popworld presenters only make a very brief appearance which adds nothing whatsoever to the game.

Because the songs are mostly in the pop genre there aren't very many with the kind of long sustains there are in, for instance, power ballads. The vocals tend to be fairly fast and, provided they are within your range, undemanding. There aren't many belters on SingStar Popworld. Overall it's a more or less standard offering from the SingStar series.

Features Common To All SingStar Games

The concept behind SingStar is very simple. You sing the words as they appear on screen, and bars appear indicating how high or low the notes should be sung, and how long each note lasts. If you sing in tune, the bar lights up, and if you're off-key a line appears above or below the bar to show how far out you were.

After a few songs you may realise that the scoring is rather generous. On the Easy level you might gain points for hitting nearly the right note. Singing too flat or sharp can sound just as bad as singing a note that's half an octave out, so nearly is not good enough. It's not until you move up to the Hard level that the game requires a decent level of accuracy. However, this does give you a chance to measure your progress even when you can't sing your way out of a paper bag.

Playback is a fantastic feature for analysing and tracking your progress. You can use it to record your singing (if you have enough space in your memory card - it does take up a lot if you do this several times), or you can play it back immediately. This can be excruciating, but it really does help you to critique your singing. It also does confirm the accuracy of this game's scoring, if you had any doubts.

There are various battle, duet and multiplayer modes, which are good for parties. You can also load songs from other SingStar titles without having to start a new game each time, a feature which is handy if not crucial.