We Sing: Rock Review
|REVIEWS - VIDEOGAME REVIEWS|
Nordic bring us a 'Rock solid' addition to the We Sing franchise...
Publisher: Nordic Games
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Number of players: Four max
Number of microphones included in bundle: Four
For those about to Rock We Salute you
When I was invited to review the latest in the We Sing stable I thought I could either slaughter this or I could go an get someone who could really sing. Now, it just so happens that I'm fairly well connected, and I know just the person to bring along...a real rock star. Enter Mr Mark Thompson-Smith, ex front man to Praying Mantis and one of the founders of Fay Wray. The venue was also perfect – a genuine Karaoke bar under Yo Sushi in the heart of London. We met up with Nordic Games’ Senior Producer Kevin Leathers. Kevin was very brave to agree to be filmed whilst doing a live demo and singing. Kevin mate – we salute you!
Now, as the home goes, I'm not a bad singer, but the wife and kids are pretty damn talented. We sing Karaoke at home with a dedicated CD unit and we also have Lips for the Xbox 360 and Disney’s Sing It: Family. So, it would be fair to say I had a pretty good experience of Karaoke games. As such, I was sure I'd be able to review this from various points of views; not just for me - someone much more appeased by moderate gaming violence or crowbar-eaque destruction, a la Gordon Freeman style. I needed to see how my Guitar Hero playing teenagers would react to it and my dear lady wife.
Wind of Change
When I compare previous We Sing instalments to the 360's Lips, it's a bit of a no-brainer; a broader range and greater accessibility make Lip's to dominate of the two franchises. However, the latest We Sing offering has impressed; I see a better product all round. The French developers behind the engine have made several improvements and an anti-cheat system that is much more aware of players that think they can ‘la-la’ there way through a track and win.
We Sing: Rock is also a far more polished experience in regards to its graphical presentation, addressing a number of prior criticisms - such as menu buttons being to small. The We Sing fans will have no problem getting stuck in, although there’s no Robby Williams track here if you’ve just come hot footed from that previous title.
Put simply, We Sing: Rock is all Rrrrroooocckkkk. It is very heavy on the 80s and 90 classics, so Dad’s - yes, you can rock to Europe’s The Final Countdown; or Alice Cooper's Poison, should either take your fancy.
We Sing: Rock actually has a nice montage of tracks that represent how rock has evolved over the decades and moving thorough the linear browser interface you can see Limp Bizkit, The Cardigans, and - for some reason - Coldplay, all bustling for your attention alongside the greats.
There are a range of game modes as you would expect, for both Solo (single player) and Party (Mulitplayer). Party provides a range of challenges and experience levels. Go for Party for collaborative play or go head to head with Versus mode. Oh, and please don’t moan if you go for the group mode and one of your party sings like a tomcat on heat and they kill your score.
Furthermore, when choosing a song you can also decide if you want to rock your way through the full song or play through half of it. A quirky addition indeed, but gentler on the ol' vocal cords.
There are plenty of different single player and multi player modes. Expert with no pitch bars or lyrics provides a definite challenge and will test just how well you really think you know your favourite songs. Multiplayer provides party challenges such as Group Battles, whilst single players can create Marathon rock sessions and work through the Jukebox mode. Pass the Mic allows for multilayer fun with just one USB microphone; but go for a few if you're after the real deal.
School’s out for Summer
New to me was also the lesson system - a personal singing lesson plan containing a range of exercises. Mark (my authentic rock star friend) was impressed with the scope of lessons, but we both struggled to get our heads around what we were supposed to do. Mark teaches singers and he could see that there were some solid practice lessons, but did note that none could realistically replace a human vocal trainer.
Personally, I was worried I'd do myself some physical damage on a few high notes, especially if you didn’t know what you were doing. Apparently, tight leather pants won’t help. And so I became inquisitive - why the long blond hair and tight leather pants Mark...there must be some reason.
Now, I don't intend to repeat Mark's response...but I will post the video instead! Ah YouTube - how we love you so:
Oh, and here's Mark rocking out in his glory days:
Anyhow, back to the game...
Throughout We Sing: Rock, loading sections are full of interesting ‘Factiods’ which may spark lively discussion with those who love music trivia. To those of you - like Mark - who yearn for yester-rock-year, these are sure to bring back a number of fond memories and stories; the likes of which usually only surface following a beer...or six.
All Right Now
So, on with the show. The game scoring system - as mentioned before - is much more accommodating this time around. You sing well, you get rewarded. You sing like a frog being sat on... you get 'nil poi'. Furthermore, it's now much easier to follow your progress, and the We Sing: Rock interface has a clear lyric display which flows well. At first it did feel a bit fast, but as time went on I got used to the games tempo and, as such, the display.
Anyone who has sung knows how you need to be fit to sing like a Rock singer. We Sing: Rock rewards the user continuously with level ups and unlockables, so there’s plenty of motivation to get your pitch, duration, vibrato and timing all right.
And so to my criticisms. I felt that the game is let down by its appalling, inclusive microphones...both Mark and I felt they were shocking. Whilst using the Logitech USB microphone, we found that they lacked both the capability or appeal of your average microphone with a standard jack. So, serious singers should be prepared for an frustrating experience in that regard. Furthermore, If you are using We Sing: Rock in a party environment you may struggle to hear yourselves sing (as opposed to think...but that too). Then again, perhaps for some of you out there that’s a good thing.
My second moan would be the background music for the menu. It's ironic - in a game featuring such impressive musical additions, that its menu would have such a lousy and irritable backing. While it may seem minor, prolonged use of the game may leave you feeling otherwise.
More than Words
There’s plenty of original accompanying videos that play in the background. you They look pretty good considering that they are all squeezed into the one CD. In addition, there's been an expansion of maximum players for this latest instalment; We Sing: Rock offers four player action, twice the singing fun than other singing games.
If you’ve ever been to a Karaoke club, you'll be familiar with the chaos these can bring. In the same way the Group Battles can be mayhem, but the added four player option remains fun nevertheless.
Having 41 songs to choose from (see below) is fantastic choice, but their accessibility is tedious to say the least. Want to sing song 41? Then you've got to flick through the lot...you can imagine how annoying that would get after a while.
This latest release also provides a setting for HD TVs. The adapter to compensates for issues with sound synchronising that some users may have with HDTV sound systems and the Wii.
Simply the best?
We Sing: Rock represents the seventh addition to the franchise, but is it lucky number seven...I'd have to say yes. Despite the niggles with the browsing interface, the repetitive nature of the background menu music and the not-so-great sound from the mics, WS:R is a great edition for anyone who loves Karaoke and Rock. Even the most fleeting of Rock fans will have fun with this addition, thanks to the games broad range of 'rock', including Coldplay and Limp Bizkit.
Whilst We Sing: Rock may not quite capture the heart of rock like its competitors, such as Guitar Hero Warriors of Rock, it does present a very good slice of the genre.
I wonder now if Nordic Games would be open to a This is Spinal Tap edition? Rock on.
The Final Countdown
So here’s the final Track listing. I just want to mention that it was a mammoth achievement on the part of Nordic to secure the rights to some of the songs, especially considering a number of artist concerns about how well the brand would represent them or how good the music would sound. All in all, they had nothing to fear. The sounds of all the tracks Kevin, Mark and I went through were great. The videos that accompany some of the tracks were the original productions and brought a nostalgic tear to Mark’s rock weary eyes.
- 30 Seconds to Mars - “Kings And Queens”
- 4 Non Blondes - “What's Up”
- Alice Cooper - “Poison”
- Bloc Party - “The Prayer”
- The Cardigans - “My Favourite Game”
- Coldplay - “Violet Hill”
- Creedence Clearwater Revival - “Proud Mary”
- The Darkness - “I Believe In A Thing Called Love”
- Daughtry - “What About Now”
- Def Leppard - “Pour Some Sugar On Me”
- Elvis Presley - “Suspicious Minds”
- Europe - “The Final Countdown”
- Evanescence - “Bring Me To Life”
- Extreme - “More Than Words”
- Faith No More - “Epic”
- Franz Ferdinand - “Take Me Out”
- Free - “All Right Now”
- Garbage - “I Think I'm Paranoid”
- Gossip - “Standing In The Way Of Control”
- Heart - “Alone”
- INXS - “Never Tear Us Apart”
- Kasabian - “Underdog”
- KT Tunstall - “Suddenly I See”
- Limp Bizkit - “Rollin'”
- Meredith Brooks - “Bitch”
- Motörhead - “Ace Of Spades”
- My Chemical Romance - “Welcome To The Black Parade”
- The Offspring - “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy)”
- OK Go - “Here It Goes Again”
- Panic! At The Disco - “Nine In The Afternoon”
- Paramore - “Ignorance”
- The Pretenders - “Brass In Pocket”
- Robert Palmer - “Addicted To Love”
- Scorpions - “Wind Of Change”
- Sheryl Crow - “All I Wanna Do”
- Simple Minds - “Don't You (Forget About Me)”
- Survivor - “Eye Of The Tiger”
- Tina Turner - “The Best”
- Wheatus - “Teenage Dirtbag”
- Whitesnake - “Here I Go Again '87”
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