Lips: Number One Hits
The Lips series, for those who aren't familiar, is Microsoft's answer to SingStar. The first instalment scored just 5/10 on Eurogamer, with Tom bemoaning the shallow gameplay and lack of online functionality. So have things improved for Lips: Number One Hits?
No. As far as Xbox Live options go you can view rankings, challenge friends to sing-offs and buy more new tracks, but that's about it. You still can't plug in a camera and video your performances, which is one of the best things about SingStar PS3. In fact even the original PS2 SingStar games had this feature, so why is Microsoft still playing catch-up?
The difficulty level does appear to have been tweaked slightly for NOH. You can no longer get great scores just by rubbing the microphone on the carpet, though it's still possible to earn some points this way. Just like in the previous game, you can bluff your way through rap tunes by gibbering any old nonsense in a monotone voice. The menus have been spruced up and it's now easier to navigate around, but otherwise there have been no major improvements.
So once again it comes down to the songs on the disc. There are 40 to choose from and there's a decent mix of genres and time periods. There are golden oldies like Pretty Woman and I Get Around, while eighties highlights include Karma Chameleon, She Drives Me Crazy and Everybody Wants to Rule the World. You can also expect nineties hits (U Can't Touch This, Lovefool) and noughties horrors (Barbie Girl, Atomic Kitten's version of The Tide is High).
There are also plenty of more recently released tracks such as Coldplay's Viva La Vida, Just Dance by Lady Gaga and Lily Allen's The Fear. It's not all pop, either - rap fans get to enjoy the likes of California Love by 2Pac, while for rockers there's Nickelback's How You Remind Me.
Viewed as a total package, however, the song selection is disappointing. Despite the range of genres and timeframes, almost all the tracks are mediocre mid-tempo affairs. There aren't enough dancefloor fillers or epic ballads. Too many of the songs are inspid, instantly forgettable examples of mediocrity (yes, we're talking to you, Jason Mraz. Rihanna, Disturbia is not your finest work. And Fergie, Big Girls DO Cry if they're forced to sit in a room with your records for long enough). With a title like Number One Hits you might expect a few more true classics. Don't Phunk With My Heart by the Black-Eyed Peas is hardly up there with Bohemian Rhapsody.
It doesn't help that Microsoft wants £34.99 for the standalone disc. Yes, that's 20 quid cheaper than buying all these songs individually on Xbox Live - but chances are you wouldn't want them all anyway. For the same money you could buy 25 songs of your own choosing which, looking at the tracklist, seems like a better deal. Or, if you're a Take That fan, you could just buy SingStar, get 25 songs you like and save 15 quid into the bargain.
The real problem, however, is that Lips: Number One Hits doesn't just fail to move this series forward - it fails to resolve the serious issues with the first game. Both NOH and Take That may be expansion packs in essence, but at least SingStar lets you adjust the difficulty levels, use voice controls, hook up a camera, join an online community and so on as standard. Lips just doesn't offer the same expansive experience, and for that reason Number One Hits deserves a lower score. Also: James Morrison.