I remember my last Singstar review. I think I mentioned something about finding it difficult to come up with anything new to say about a title that everyone knows about. As you can imagine, with the tenth PS2 release of the series in what amounts to just a few short years (I know, it seems like an eternity) here I am banging my head against the wall in sheer frustration at trying to come up with something more "same old, same old, different tracks"... Well, I'll give it a try but don't expect me to pull up any trees here okay?
Rock Ballads, eh? "What can I put into a rock ballads creation?" thinks the creative genius behind the latest offering. "I know! Sugababes" .. I was sorely tempted to give up completely after finding this out but I'll persevere. Music taste aside, ballad or no ballad, who in their right mind would class Sugababes as `Rock'? Come on put your hands up. No? Come on, I've got a bunch straight jackets over here just waiting to be used. Even I think I sound like Victor Meldrew now, so I'll get on with it. Sugababes aside, your rock ballads span the last couple of decades with offerings from the likes on U2, Tina Turner, Queen, Roxette, Duran Duran, T'Pau, Nilsson (not Roland) and Tina Arena. If you're thinking that it is probably going to sound like a drive time record that you can pick up from the bargain bin of your local Texaco, then you're probably right. Think a little more about it and you'll probably realise that you do enjoy a good croon when you are in the car by yourself so this offering isn't as half baked as it looks. Now you can swap the grind of the daily commute for the comfort of your front room and a few refreshments.
Most of the tracks on Rock Ballads (not all.) require a degree of singing talent and this release feels like the scoring system is now actually based upon having some singing talent yourself. The previous release, Singstar Rocks, just felt as if it was hurriedly put together with a lot less thought given to the skills needed to score points. It seemed like an attempt to part chart fanatics with their pocket money.
Rock Ballads seems to reverse this and bases itself on the initial principle of what made the Singstar series such massive success (no, not vast amounts of Alcopops.) If you can sing and hit the right notes with the right timing, then you will score highly. If, like me, you are tone deaf with a voice to match then you will quickly be knocked out to rejoin the lads in the back garden with the cooler full of beer. What the choice of tracks also provides is long belting notes, which either down to design or people being out of breath after a chorus succeeds in revitalising the duet mode. When you can't breathe any longer, your partner can take over. All the pieces fall right into place!
In all honesty, if living room karaoke is your bag then Singstar: Rock Ballads marks a return to form for the series. A definite winner for Christmas & New Years parties alike.
7 out of 10