21st Nov2017

Review: Let’s Sing 2018 vs. We Sing Pop (PS4)

by Phil Wheat

lets-sing-18-vs-we-sing-pop

Seemingly revitalised by the likes of Now That’s What I Call Sing and the current-gen debut(s) of Rockband and Guitar Hero, the karoke game genre has, sadly, not found the success it once had.

However things picked up at the beginning of this year when not one, but THREE new karaoke games were available in UK stores. So what did we do? Reviewed the three in a head-to-head of course! Yes, back in January we reviewed Ravens Court’s Now… Sing sequel alongside Ubisoft’s Just Sing and Nordic Games’ (under their new THQ Nordic banner) We Sing, the franchise that was – in my opinion – the KING of the karaoke games during the Nintendo Wii era.

I still maintain – all these years later – that Nordic Games’ We Sing Pop, released in 2012, was the epitomy of the genre, capturing the mix of songs, controls and gameplay perfectly… Well now We Sing Pop is back, available on current-gen consoles from THQ Nordic. Also released alongside that game is Let’s Sing 2018, an older IP that never really got any real mainstream recognition in its previous Wii-based incarnations and which was more recently overshadowed by the Now… Sing franchise, also released by Ravens Court.

Yet whilst the days of the PS2 and Wii, where it felt like new karaoke titles were released on a bi-monthly basis, nowadays we have to wait 12 months for new titles to hit the market – which is why its been almost that long between any follow-up reviews! And so, as is our wont, here’s our head-to-head breakdown of both games, in hopes of crowning the new King of Karaoke [Games].

The Songs

There’s not much difference between We Sing Pop and Let’s Sing 2018 when is comes to the songs, in fact there are a few tracks that crossover between both games – Clean Bandit’s Rockabye, Nico and Vinz’s Am I Wrong, Coldplay’s Hymn For the Weekend and Ellie Goudling’s Burn – that really show how alike both games are. Not only are the songs the same but the game mechanics within, notes, rapping, etc., are similar too.

The song selection in both titles is a mix of current tunes and a handful of older songs, many of which share the same artist rather than song choice (for example different songs by Lorde, Kygo, Jason Derulo and Calvin Harris appear in both games); including a smattering of 70s and 80s hits, just enough to appeal to a wider demographic than if the games stuck to modern pop songs. When it comes to variety, We Sing Pop takes the lead, as it features more “older” tracks mixed into the song selection – including tracks by Queen, Abba, The B-52′s and Wham!

And there’s no difference in terms of sheer number of songs available, We Sing Pop comes with 30 tracks to sing along to, and Let’s Sing 2018 has a mix of 30 chart hits also. However…

Let’s Sing 2018 also already has DLC available in the form of song packs, 4 to be precise: Chart Hits, Best of 80s, Party Classics and Party Classics Vol.2; which gives Raven’s Court the edge when it comes to overall song selection. However bear in mind this does mean forking out more than the standard RRP for the full DLC package (Let’s Sing 2018 DLC is £3.99 pre song pack – with five songs per pack on average). Sadly We Sing Pop doesn’t include any additional online downloadable content as of writing – perhaps it’s because this is ultimately an expansion of the original We Sing title and could be construed as disc-based DLC in a way (even though you don’t need the first  game to play We Sing Pop)

Controls

There’s no real difference between either game when it comes to the controls. We Sing Pop andLet’s Sing 2018 both allow players to use any console-compatible USB microphones. Once again we tested out both a PS3-gen Rockband mic and a Logitech microphone from the days of the Nintendo Wii and both worked perfectly fine, as did the pair of mics we got with the last We Sing game. There is the option, at least with Let’s Sing 2018, to use your mobile phones as a mic by downloading the FREE app for the game and connecting your phone to your console over wi-fi. Unfortunately the existing We Sing app refused to connect to our PS4 and/or We Sing Pop, so we were stuck using USB mics for this particular title.

Let’s Sing 2018 players can join the game through a combination of USB mic or phone app – allowing up to 4 players per track (you can have 4 players in We Sing Pop too – though without a USB hub we were stuck with just 2 mics). Cleverly the “sing to activate the mic” option once again appears within the latest Let’s Sing game (as it did in the Now… Sing titles), which means players can jump in and out of the fun, choosing to partake in a particular track or not on a song-by-song basis.

Gameplay

Of the two games, We Sing Pop is the simplest, with only “Party Mode” to contend with – though there are various options in said mode: play as single player, up to four player multiplayer and as a traditional karaoke mode. All modes can also be set to Standard (lyircs on screen) or Expert (no lyrics); as well a the difficulty set to Normal or Expert… No “Easy mode” here folks, though if you’ve played one of these singing games before you’ll realise that’s no bad thing! You can also change up the game by removing the original vocals completely as you play, switching them on or off before the track begins.

Let’s Sing 2018 follows a more traditional karaoke game format, with various modes available to play through. First up is Classic, which is the the traditional karaoke game format: sing a song, try to hit the notes and score points. Then there’s Feat. mode, which essentially makes you a guest artist on the tracks within the game, for example on Rockabye – Clean Bandit feat. Sean Paul, the game is Clean Bandit and the player is Sean Paul (which in this particular song is undoubtedly the trickiest part of the track!). Other game modes include Mix Tape, which features 7 songs excerpts, and you score a point per excerpt sung well enough; Juke Box, which does exactly what it says: plays through the tracks in the game like ajuke box, making it perfect background noise for a party; and finally there’s TV, which adds more of a “quiz” element to the game. In this mode the lyrics play out on screen as normal, however every so often there’s a missing word which you have both know and sing correctly.

Ultimately, Let’s Sing 2018 has more of a game mechanic about it: you level up through singing songs and breaking records, etc. And the game incentivises players to get those early notes spot-on; doing so triggers bonuses such as score multipliers, in turn meaning a better final score and a slim chance of appearing on the worldwide leaderboards (though good luck with that, some of the leaderboard high scores are ridiculous!). Where as We Sing Pop is more about the party experience, so much so that the game allows you to make a playlist of your favourite tracks of the songs available songs and play through them in one sitting – ideal for those late-night post-pub karaoke party sessions!

Presentation

I absolutely love the video intro sequence to We Sing Pop, however once in the game proper there’s a record skipping soundbite as you flick between songs that really starts to grate after a while, and graphically it doesn’t make much use of current-gen capabilities – however its under the hood where We Sing Pop shines. Wired Productions have focussed on the technicalities of the genre to try and stand out from the pack: the gameplay powered by the KaraEngine for ultra-accurate pitch detection; there’s anti-cheat detection system built in (so no replaying the song into the mic to cheat the online leaderboards); and the game features studio quality audio pipeline, allowing you to hear the music the way it was meant to be – that’s if your home cinema system is up to scratch!

we-sing-pop-menu lets-sing-2018-menu

Meanwhile Let’s Sing 2018 has a much crisper, cleaner and overall more slicker looking and feeling interface that really shows the experience of developers Voxler. This game feels very much like a current gen title and as such the overall experience is just more satisfactory. Though to be fair, once you’re into the track, singing along to the lyrics at the right pitch there’s little between either game.
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I still hold out hope that the karaoke genre isn’t on it’s last legs once again, despite all the evidence to the contrary… Maybe it’s just the local gaming scene, but we struggled to find both We Sing Pop and Let’s Sing 2018 at retail which doesn’t bode well for future entries in these, or any other, musical franchises. Hopefully, with the move to digital-only purchases, these types of games can survive – it would certainly be a shame if EITHER of these particular franchises were to end.

Why? Well both We Sing Pop and Let’s Sing 2018 are fantastic examples of the genre. Taking both games at base level, sans any DLC, both titles are near-perfect examples of the genre – capturing a fantastic mix of pop songs old and new (and some of the songs included are VERY new, like still-played constantly on the radio new). Whilst both would make for great additions to any party, Let’s Sing 2018 takes this head-to-head purely on a presentation factor: the interface feels slicker and smoother and more professional than We Sing Pop, however it’s a small difference that – when you compare the two on purely a playability/song level  – doesn’t really effect just how great both games are!

Winner: Let’s Sing 2018. Just…

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