SingStar Rocks

SingStar Rocks is poorly named. The majority of the music in this game is in the indie and pop genres, with a slight leaning towards soft rock. With tracks from Blur, Coldplay, Snow Patrol and K T Tunstall, it' has more in common with the stripy, sugared variety of rock you might pick up after a trip to Skegness than the hulking great mountains of awe-inspiring sound that the name implies. If you really want rock music, the Guitar Hero series has songs which fit the description more accurately.

That's not to say that the songs are bad choices. Overwhelmingly the vocals are male, with just 4 of the 30 tracks sung by women, and there's a balance of old classics and modern songs. The format of this game is exactly the same as any other SingStar title. If you're not familiar with the series, there's more on this at the bottom of this review.

One of the problems with rock music is that it's sometimes shouted rather than sung, and doing this can damage your voice. But apart from a primal scream on The Hives' "Hate to Say I Told You So", which isn't scored so you don't have to sing it in any case, these songs should not cause problems.

However, some of the scoring for the vocals has been badly designed. For example, on Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" players in single player mode are expected to sing both his vocals and the backing ones. Freddie Mercury was an awesome singer in terms of his stamina and his ability, and he didn't have to pause for breath very often. To expect players to sing his part as well as the backing vocals is absurd, because there aren't enough pauses in the song. You would need to have mastered circular breathing in order to get a decent score on this song.

SingStar Rocks is a reasonably good addition to the SingStar range, and it opens the series up to a slightly different audience. But the flaws in this game mean it isn't the best title available in this 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.