Review By: Siou Choy
|# Of Players:||1-4|
For a game touted as the Xbox 360’s “Singstar killer,” even so far down the road as its third incarnation, the best that can be said about Inis’ Lips is that it’s still playing catch-up to its rival. The sad reality is that while there are some strong similarities in style and design, the quality of the challenger to the throne still falls far short of the admittedly high standard set by the earlier, and still far superior series.
Lips: Party Classics is the most recent installment in the Lips series, and the first one that doesn’t come prepackaged with a wireless motion controlled microphone. Further, it is also the first game in the series which allows you to use one of those regular USB microphones you likely have multiple copies of from the dozen or so Rock Band and Guitar Hero games in your collection.
That said, it’s still a scam. Because without one of those fancy-schmantzy motion controlled wireless Microsoft branded microphones, your score will suck. And I mean seriously suck. Yes, even in a game which grades on a curve that would have seemed unthinkably exaggerated and extreme prior to the enactment of No Child Left Behind, you will completely be left in the dust by comparison to your virtual compatriots around the world on the Lips Leaderboards. Having played the game both ways (with a normal mike and with the expensive Microsoft wireless mike), the difference is positively astonishing. Scores from my efforts using the wireless mike (which I borrowed for a grand total of two days) still show on the boards as “galaxy” “universe” and “big bang”. Scores from the normal USB mike? Those range as low as literally one tenth of those earlier scores. Same person, same songs, a day apart. That means the Microsoft wireless mike is just that much better at tracking my vocal talents, right? I feel like knocking over some tables at the temple, here, they’ve made our house of worship into a den of thieves.
By comparison, the Singstar microphones (which are also expensive, but about half as much as Microsoft’s version) are very obviously designed to accurately track your dulcet tones, right down to the minutiae of pitch changes you sweep through in the course of a given song. It’s all right there on the screen, and scores are far more realistic. I guess that makes them crap, since I’ve never been a “big bang” with a score in the tens of millions in a Singstar game.
What is comparable to Singstar is the basic game design and overall paradigm. The original music videos you grew up with, loved, laughed at derisively, and hated with a vengeance, respectively, are played in the background as you sing along to the songs karaoke style, with pitch and tone value being more or less tracked (again, this is a far less precise design and scoring system than that of Singstar, and I’m being extremely generous in putting it that way). Filling bars and meters can form combos and drop you into “StarScream mode.” StarScream mode is when you transform into a…wait, wrong show. In Lips, this refers to when the meter turns gold and stars are earned, boosting your score to even more absurd heights. Let’s face it, with Lips, a 2 month old baby gabbling in the general direction of the microphone and using it like a rattle could easily score something on the level of “comet” or “star,” if not better. Looks like unconditional praise, regardless of merit or lack thereof, is the order of the day once again...
The developers actually allude to their culpability in the “expensive microphone for inflated scores” scam in the manual. It’s slight, but it’s there. The manual states that “without a wireless motion controlled microphone, you may not be able to earn all six of the medals handled out based on your performance”. For instance, I can push the proper button on my Xbox controller to clap or shake that cowbell in time, but while you can see the lights onscreen flash and hear the hands clapping or cowbell ringing in time, the game deliberately ignores this in terms of scoring. In other words, Lips literally doesn’t acknowledgeyour efforts and provide points for accurate performance unless it’s done with the wireless mike. I’m sorry, I know I beat this point home earlier, but something about this just doesn’t sit well with me. Can you say “scam alert?”
Posted: 2011-11-16 20:26:19 PST