When SingStar was left to die a cruel, agonising death, it took a while for somebody to step into the resultant karaoke-shaped void with any purpose. A few years later, Let’s Sing has certainly made its presence felt.
Face it, you simply can’t speak about karaoke video games without talking about PlayStation’s SingStar. When it hit on the PS2 it was a revelation, with affordably-priced collections of songs pumped out regularly on discs, often with cool thematic compiling, and all you needed was their blue/red mic combo to pretend that you were the latest singing sensation.
Then came the PS3 iteration, an improvement on the formula in every way, with backwards compatibility – you could pop your old PS2 discs in and bolster your collection of available songs significantly, or stick other PS3 SingStar titles in and play those songs without rebooting the game – and the arrival of hundreds of songs via DLC just added to the experience further. That was peak SingStar, as a feeble version later hit PS4, removing access to many paid DLC songs that people had paid good money for, offering no backwards compatibility (even though the console’s drive could have read those discs…) and rejigging almost everything in the game, seemingly with an unfathomable plan to take away all the things that people loved about the experience in the first place. It soon got shut down completely, the end of an era, and those with a healthy PS3 collection must now treat their old consoles like gold, because if they crash, their hundreds of dollars’ worth of DLC will be gone forever.
OK, rant over, but it is relevant to Let’s Sing and, in turn, Let’s Sing 2022. Why? Because it’s the best that we have if we want to squawk along to new songs, and it’s also currently the only option on new-gen consoles.
For all intents and purposes, Let’s Sing 2022 is SingStar. The presentation is very similar, even down to the generic menu music, and you sing along to a selection of songs – in this case 30 come included – by following the words, and a bar that tells you if you’re sharp or flat, superimposed over the original music video. In their defence, there aren’t too many ways of playing it as it’s a crazy-simple concept, so similarities are to be expected.
As for how it works technically, you can buy the physical version of the game with one mic or two, or use what you already have. A standard USB mic – like those that came with the Guitar Hero and Rock Band instrument packs – will work fine, but don’t bother trying those old SingStar mics on your PS5, as they’re just not recognised. The alternative is either a gaming headset with mic, or the free Let’s Sing app, which lets you use your smartphone as a microphone. It’s clunky in that you have to make sure that you sing into the correct bit, and we had to pair it with a four-digit code for every single song that we tackled – bleah! We’d suggest grabbing a USB mic edition, or checking the cupboard… Also, be warned that if you use a USB mic, there doesn’t seem to be an option to turn your voice down, so you’ll hear it mixed in through the speakers. Depending upon your singing chops, this can be abject torture.
Attempts have also been made to mix things up with various modes. There’s ‘Classic’, the just-sing-the-song mode, and ‘World Contest’ sends you online to aim at world tonsil-tastic domination. As you’d expect there’s a bunch of things mostly to get into when you have company, too. Of these, ‘Let’s Party’ allows for head-to-head team competition, and ‘Feat.’ Hooks into the fact that few songs seem to be released nowadays without a featured artist, by pairing people up to find their perfect vocal match.
Like so many music-based games, where Let’s Sing 2022 falls down is in its musical choice. Sure, steps have been taken to widen the range a little with inclusions such as Depeche Mode, Bowie and The White Stripes, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who knows all of the songs – mostly more recent “bangers” – here intimately enough to sing them. To Let’s Sing’s credit there’s DLC available, however it comes in the form of five-track packs, guaranteed to each have one or two songs you’d want, and a handful of chaff. At $7.55 they’re priced OK, but those individual tracks at $1.51 (we did the maths!) each would be preferable. Plus, at the time of writing the range is limited to just a total of 120 songs if you buy every single pack.
“For all intents and purposes, Let’s Sing 2022 is SingStar.”
The limited range of songs wouldn’t be so frustrating if you could hook into the songs in your previous editions of Let’s Sing, however it’s a big ixnay on that one. Despite having Let’s Sing 2021 sitting happily on the same hard drive, we confirmed that there’s no way to combine its song list with that of Let’s Sing 2022. Rock Band got that one right with affordable export codes when a new version released – and it helps explain why Rock Band 4 is still insanely popular today, six years after it launched.
Technically, Let’s Sing 2022 can’t be faulted, as it does what it sets out to do, and does it quite competently. But to truly take the SingStar crown, which is surely the aim, the marketing people need to sort song availability to offer decent choice to their punters. If this isn’t via exports from previous releases and better ways to purchase DLC, then by a subscription service like Just Dance’s quite superb Just Dance Unlimited.
Let’s Sing 2022 is available now on PS5, Xbox, PS4 and Switch.