PS2 Roundup

Buzz! Pop, SingStar Summer, Samurai Warriors 2XL, ATV 4, Off-Road.

Version tested PlayStation 2

They say that after a nuclear holocaust, only cockroaches will remain. Given the remarkable resilience of Sony's black obelisk I'm starting to suspect that, after the skies turn black with radioactive ash, the cockroaches will still face an unstoppable tide of new PS2 releases. At least that might give them something to do apart from skittering about being hideous and picking the charcoal flesh from our burning bodies.

Buzz! The Pop Quiz

  • Developer: Relentless Software
  • Publisher: SCEE

Having clocked up ten editions in just over two years (and that's not including the special version developed for schools) it's understandable that the Buzz series of quiz games is running out of new material. After standalone quiz discs based on sport, movies and general knowledge this latest variation finds the series coming full circle.

Originally launched in late 2005 as Buzz! The Music Quiz, it can be hard to discern quite what makes Buzz! The Pop Quiz all that different. Well, the game is strangely insistent that the pop period covered is from the 1990s onwards which may help narrow the thematic focus, but I can't help feeling that it also cuts off a significant portion of the casual gaming audience - this is a quiz where parents will be at a clear disadvantage against their kids.

Original music videos are now a prominent part of the game, with acts like Take That, Razorlight and - my goodness - Tatu, providing the moving pictures. Most of the rounds will be familiar to anyone who has played previous Buzz! games, though. Pass The Bomb returns, as does Point Stealer, while Pie Fight (the non-violent alternative to the Hitman round of old) also makes a comeback. Rounds like Name That Band and What's That Song may technically be new to this package, but their self-explanatory names make it clear that the only real variation is in how people buzz in, and how the timer is used.

It's business as usual, in other words, with the same strengths and weaknesses as the previous Buzz titles. If you enjoyed The Music Quiz then you could always consider this a rather pricey expansion with another 5,000 questions to work through. As the series gears up for the leap to PS3, however, it's easy to see this as a stopgap release.

7/10

SingStar Summer Party

  • Developer: Sony
  • Publisher: SCEE

Is this worth your money? Best way to find out is to point your web-beak over these words and see if the track listing makes you go OMG OMG I LOVE THAT ONE OMG.

It's certainly hard to argue with a SingStar package that includes such evergreen karaoke favourites as Diana Ross' I'm Coming Out, Elton John's I'm Still Standing and Bowie's Let's Dance. Given the summer theme, it's predictably heavy on cheese as well. Get a few bottles of Hock down your neck and the likes of Chesney Hawkes, Five Star, Mel & Kim and Yazz suddenly seem like the greatest songs ever written. Even the cod-reggae of Peter Andre seems like less of an affront to humanity in this context. Club Tropicana, naturally, is in here also.

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Who'd have guessed?

But there are some less successful additions. Assuming the "summer party" suffix is a serving suggestion, the few token indie tracks rather stand out amid the camp silliness. I Predict A Riot isn't a song I've ever felt was particularly summery, while the inclusion of Pulp's catchy-but-melancholy Disco 2000 suggests that somebody hasn't been paying much attention to the lyrics. Perhaps most baffling is the decision to include classic sun-kissed indie moptops Dodgy, but then use Good Enough rather than their more obvious and popular Staying Out For The Summer.

Still, as with all SingStar discs, arguing about the relative worth of each track is about as subjective as things can get. Boil it down to a basic ratio of Great Summery Songs You'll Want To Sing At A Barbecue versus Songs That Don't Really Fit Together But Students Will Probably Like Them and this disc comes up as a clear winner.

8/10

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