Hard to bust a move when you're breaking out in song on your SingStar set-up because you're getting tangled with pesky microphone cords? Diva tantrums will no longer be necessary with the release of the wireless mics for PlayStation's SingStar.
Coupling the freedom of wireless performance with new voice-recognition features for controller-free gameplay, the PlayStation's wireless mics are designed to liberate the karaoke party beyond the length of the two-metre cord from your console.
PlayStation's new wireless mics are a little bit like that convertible car you've had your eye on — features that are not entirely necessary and compelling enough to make you upgrade from your trusty hatchback, but all-in-all looks like a lot more fun than what you've got. Such is the concept of upgrading from your corded mics to the cordless set-up: going wireless will allow you the freedom to use the whole living room to dance around and reach rock/pop god status, but won't be terribly different in function to its corded predecessor.
Technically, set-up of the new microphones is fairly simple — mics are battery-powered and come packaged with AA batteries and a wireless dongle that connects to your console via a USB connection. The slightly chunky dongle will ensure the mics power up and are ready to rock when you start your SingStar game. You'll need your standard controller to make your game selection (solo, multiplayer, etc), but from there, a quick tutorial will get you up to speed on the mic's new voice control features and allow you to select your song, set difficulties and conduct basic navigation around the game.
Both PS2 and PS3 owners can upgrade to the new wireless set-up, with the peripherals compatible with both consoles.
While the voice recognition features of the new mics are clever, often the few seconds it takes for your voice command to process will make you think it'd be easier (and faster) to click the X button on your controller. Given users can also select songs by artist or track name, users unfamiliar with track lists won't easily be able to browse the tracklist without a controller (which would also be wireless for those playing on the next-gen PS3 console). We experienced this issue when we began reviewing tracks on the new SingStar: Pop Edition when unfamiliar with some of the newer artists and album covers in the song selection. We were flying blind — to avoid a similar fate, be sure to have the tracklist on hand. In testing, we also experienced a slight lag in the input and recognition of vocals into the game, but nothing that had too significant an effect on scoring or gameplay.
Let's be honest here though. SingStar parties are often amongst a few drinks and friends, and when words start becoming slurred or a little incoherent after a cocktail or two, the system's voice controls can start to get confused. When coupled with loud background party noise, the "smart function" rapidly becomes a little less clever. For really big nights in, you'll likely have more luck sticking with your good ol' corded set-up.
With limited difference in functionality between the new wireless mics and their older corded siblings, making the decision to upgrade is more of a luxury choice than a necessity for the SingStar aficionado. With the launch RRP of the mics sitting at AU$79.95, the package is also a little expensive in the absence of a bundled software package.
For the aspiring rock and pop stars in the house, the new PlayStation wireless mics are a clever addition to the SingStar franchise to bring a new level of performance to your favourite tracks.
Is it worth the upgrade? We had a lot of fun with the cord-free set-up, dancing across the room and channelling our inner performer, but the key part of the fun in SingStar is in song selection and good competition. If you're keen to upgrade and the price doesn't deter you, the wireless microphones will certainly liberate you from being tethered to a console, but hang on to your corded set for back-up.