Any SingStar fan looking for anything more than 30 new songs from Vol.3 will be sorely disappointed, because that's all it is. Really, that's it. It's Vol.2 with added Aerosmith, more Michael Jackson and lashings of Lionel Richie. Nothing more, nothing less.
For PS3 owners without an internet connection, and therefore without access to the bulging SingStore, a glance at the solid track list will determine whether the £25 or so the game costs is worth it. This is a wholly personal decision, and we won't attempt to patronise your musical tastes by telling you which songs we think are great and which songs we think are garbage... FACT. As the saying goes, each to their own. What we will say is there's bound to be at least one song guaranteed to go down well in a room full of bleary-eyed winos. For us, David Bowie's Space Oddity proved to be the one. We also found Deep Blue Something's Breakfast At Tiffany's got vocal chords going (we're all Friends fanatics round our house). The old ball and chain loves Queen's Killer Queen and Could it be Magic by Take That, for some reason, too. I'm more interested in beating my top score on The Smashing Pumpkins' 1979, or, in other words, a PROPER SONG.
For those of you with an internet connection, those of you who regularly host SingStar get togethers with friends and family, those of you who after a few drinks find it impossible not to sink £10 on new tracks, just because you can, Vol.3 will be less essential, since it's going to be more cost-effective for you to pick and choose tracks you know you like from the SingStore. Which is Vol.3's biggest problem. There's nothing here beyond the 30 new tracks to make a purchase essential. There aren't any fundamental changes to gameplay or new game modes to play around with. Where Sony might have got away with this hugely conservative approach in the past, times have changed. Nowadays, SingStar has competition.
And it's not just from band simulators, like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, which both offer full singing functionality, but from Microsoft's direct karaoke rival Lips. We gave Lips an 8/10 in our review, praising it for its motion sensing wireless microphones and the ability to import DRM free songs from a portable music player. Lips was a great first effort, with no small amount of innovation, and that's a word we just can't associate with SingStar Vol. 3.
Having played Lips the fact that SingStar's mics are wired annoys. The trouble and strife missed Lips' motion sensing functions, like raising the mic to score extra points or tapping it to make tambourine sounds, too. For me, I prefer SingStar's less forgiving scoring system - a system that, even on the easy difficulty level, isn't afraid to give it to you straight when you've absolutely murdered a classic. When SingStar does say Cool! or gives you a good score at the end of a song, you're genuinely pleased with yourself, and that, for many, especially the more competitive among you, makes it the better game. With Lips, you could fart into the wireless mic and it would think you're Mariah Carey.
Sony will say, well, Vol.3 isn't meant to be anything other than an update. It's not SingStar 2. Fine. We'll buy it this time, but we won't be so forgiving next time around, when we'll demand wireless microphones and some kind of DRM-free track integration. None of this, of course, prevents SingStar from being great in exactly the same way as Vol.2 was. Its easy to use interface has all the slick, ultra-modern trappings of a classic Sony-made game. The cool electro menu music would be more than welcome on my iPod. The track list is, effectively, gargantuan, given how packed SingStore is with karaoke classics. My SingStar allows you to upload user generated videos with the PlayStation Eye camera and share them with your buddies, and you can still play solo, battle, duet and the party perfect pass the mic mode.
So, Vol.3 will be a quick and easy Christmas present purchase for SingStar fans without an internet connection. For everyone else, £25 is a bit much to fork out for 30 new SingStar songs and nothing else.