Version tested: Wii
With the SingStar and Lips series now firmly established, it's about time the Wii joined the karaoke party. The Boogie titles don't count as they were a) rubbish and b) designed for small children. As everyone knows, videogames aren't for kids - they're for sophisticated adults who are mature enough to understand the artistic value in blowing up a Nazi's face.
We Sing is aimed at an older demographic, as you can tell by looking at the photographs on the front cover. Specifically, they suggest it's aimed at 24-year-old white people who enjoy smiling and wearing baseball caps back to front. They do have one black friend but he's only in one of the pictures and he's been shoved right to the back. One of the other pictures features a dog. Unfortunately it's a headshot so you can't see how he's holding the mic.
In the main picture six people are attempting to sing into a single microphone, which suggests the photographer has missed the point of We Sing. This karaoke game is compatible with four USB microphones, allowing up to four people to sing together. That's the best reason to buy We Sing. Don't buy it because you want to download songs or upload videos or be judged on whether you can sing rather than make any kind of noise at all for a few minutes, because We Sing doesn't boast any of those features.
The game is available as a standalone disc or bundled with two Logitech microphones. An extra bundle comprised of two more mics is also being offered. There are 30 songs included on the disc and it's a decent selection, though the emphasis is more on naff old cheese than timeless classics. There's some great eighties stuff such as Karma Chameleon, Hungry Like the Wolf and Red Red Wine. You also get a big batch of recent chart-toppers - Poker Face by Lady GaGa, Lily Allen's The Fear, Tears Dry on Their Own by Amy Winehouse and I Predict a Riot by Kaiser Chiefs, to name but a few.
There are a few karaoke standards (Delilah, I'd Do Anything for Love, Take Me Home, Country Roads) and an oddly disproportionate number of songs by nineties-tastic one-hit wonders (Chesney! Charles and Eddie! Shampoo! Tasmin Archer). The full tracklist is available to view over on the We Sing website. Overall, there's a bit too much emphasis on novelty value and not quite enough cast-iron classics. However, the mix of genres and decades is pretty good and there's enough here to keep you entertained for a few hours.
But not much longer than that. Once you've exhausted the selection of songs on the disc, that's it - there's no option to visit an online store and download more. In these days of the SingStore, the Lips library and karaoke machines which come with thousands of tunes pre-installed, this is disappointing.
At least all the songs are by the original artists (unlike in the Boogie games) and have the proper videos - with four mysterious exceptions. Instead of Kylie's video for Loco-Motion you get footage of actual trains speeding down tracks, while Don't Go Breakin' My Heart is accompanied by images of couples holding hands in parks. One Way or Another plays along to a picture of some flashing disco lights and Take Me Home, Country Roads is sung to footage of snowy mountains. You wonder why they couldn't get the original videos, or pick songs where licensing wasn't an issue, but it's not a big enough deal to spoil your enjoyment of the game.
No, the spoiling will be down to the fact it doesn't really work properly. Just as with SingStar, the We Sing game-screen features pitch bars which fill up with colour as you sing notes. But in We Sing, you don't need any skill to fill them up and score huge amounts of points. Within minutes you realise simply blowing into the mic or rubbing it on the sofa can earn "Perfect" rankings. Better still, just say "AAAA" in a monotone voice - doing this, I managed to beat someone trying to sing Our House properly by almost 2000 points.
That was during a Versus battle, one of several Party Mode options which are all variations on a theme. Pass the Mic is pretty much the same as the Pass the Mic mode in SingStar, to the extent that it involves passing the mic between players and is called Pass the Mic. Group Battles require you to team up in groups of three max and compete to score the most points. In We Sing mode players sing different parts of the song - or duet, in other words. The most innovative mode is First to 5000. Here you fight to reach the 5000-point mark, and the first player to do so is the winner. This is pretty good fun with four players, at least until you all just start going "AAAA".
The bottom line is We Sing doesn't really work as a videogame. The pitch recognition isn't even as good as that in Lips and it's super-easy to cheat. But not all of us care about scoring points, so putting that to one side - when considered as a device for turning your Wii into a karaoke machine, how does We Sing measure up?
Not brilliantly. The song selection is decent but it's limited. The standalone disc has an RRP of £29.99. Compared to, say, SingStar: Take That, which costs 20 quid and comes with 25 songs, that's not great value. The cost of the game and mics bundle is £59.99 and the double-mic pack is £29.99. So if you want the full four-player We Sing experience, you're looking at a total price of 90 quid.
Of course you'll be able to cut that cost if you shop around and opt for cheapo eBay mics rather than the official Logitech jobs. But even then you're looking at a significant investment for a game with 30 tracks, no video recording options, no online features, wired mics and a poorly designed gameplay mechanic.
With all that said, We Sing is still fun. It involves public humiliation, showing off, silly pop songs and (chances are) vast quantities of alcohol. That combination is always great as long as you've got some suitable songs to sing along to and We Sing does all right on that front. Plus the four-player feature does enhance the karaoke experience - shy types are more likely to join in, extroverts become even more competitive and it's altogether more chaotic, stupid and hilarious. Just think carefully before you stump up all that cash and consider whether you wouldn't be better off waiting for the first four-player SingStar game.
5 / 10