For karaoke fans who don't have a PlayStation 3 and SingStar, showing off your vocal skills has been relegated to a component of Rock Band. Now vocalists are getting the full love from Lips, which provides hypersensitive microphones and a sophisticated system of picking up on how players sing. But for serious gamers, Lips might go too far out of its way to make play accessible, taking out much of the challenge and satisfaction of good performances.
Lips is always no-fail and there are no alternate difficulty levels. There are 40 songs in the box with no options to unlock more. Still, what is there is great. The mix of music spans decades and genres. The creators picked songs based on their "game-ability," but they seem to also have been selected for the great videos accompanying them, ranging from Duran Duran's bizarre "Hungry Like The Wolf" to Weezer's cute "Island In The Sun."
The visuals created for classic songs available for download like Bing Crosby's "White Christmas" are less inventive, but three party games provide alternatives for familiar visuals. Those who crave competition will like "Vocal Fighters," where players appear as angry metal rockers fighting for stage attention.
Video distractions aside, the games' nuances deliver. You can win medals for excellence in vibrato, pitch, and rhythm, while friends with controllers can provide backup in the form of cowbells or tambourines. The motion-sensitive mics flash different colors and and let players strike poses to trigger streaks of bonus points. And unlike Rock Band, Lips features plenty of hip-hop, scoring each spoken word rather than just letting you make noise and wait for melodic sections.
Beyond the game: Lips has been steadily trickling out new content for download, with tunes by Men At Work, Depeche Mode, and others due out in January.
Worth playing for: Getting to sing along to A-Ha's "Take on Me" while watching one of the best music videos ever.
Frustration sets in when: The party-game sound effects throw you off, and by the time you've recovered, they're playing again.
Final judgment: A self-esteem booster for your tone-deaf friend, though the introduction of more content should help make it stay fun for everyone else.