Originally written for www.7outof10.co.uk
We take pride in our review scale here at 7outof10. We may be named – tongue in cheek – after the quaint notion that seven is considered the new average in some quarters, but that doesn’t stop us using the whole ten point scale where necessary. With that comes the understanding that five is thoroughly average; showing neither the spark to elevate the game at hand into the upper half of the scale, or offending us enough to drop the poor soul towards numbers that even a two-year-old would be happy wrestling with.
It’s often very hard to find such a game. Usually there is something about a title that tries to be at the very least, for better or for worse, different. Those efforts alone are usually enough to warrant a reaction and cause the score-needle to shift on its dial at least a fraction.
After many years of trying, however, I believe I have found such a game.
There is nothing at all intrinsically wrong with We Sing: UK Hits. As a karaoke game it ticks all the right boxes and is fundamentally solid, capable of standing up to the most tone deaf, X-Factor wannabes. Offering a wide range of British pop classics, a selection of game modes, and support for up to four microphones, Nordic Games laid some sensible foundations. For me, the issue is that they never pushed on from that.
The presentation is the first aspect to suffer, lacking anything that could be considered a distinguishing mark. Menus are backed by images of Big Ben replete with his clanging tones, quintessentially British red telephone boxes, and silhouettes of the London Eye, all emphasising the point that this is a UK edition of the now established franchise, but compared to Sing Star and Dance Central no personality leaps out. Everything is functional but little more.
Put a mic in your hand and that feeling doesn’t change greatly. As with all good karaoke games, the appropriate music video is played in the background whilst the lyrics flash up and lead you through the song. Pitch bars highlight as you hit the notes, giving helpful clues as where to aim your larynx, and come the end you’ll be presented with a score for your efforts.
Again, it all works, but an absence of a couple of notable features seen in other franchises again make you feel as though much more could have been packed into the product if only they had wanted to put in the effort. Most problematic for me and my dubious ear is the lack of what pitch is I’m currently singing in. Displaying where I should be on the scale is next to useless if I don’t know if I’m being asked to sing higher or lower. Although, to balance the argument, this had lead to some extremely amusing moments as singers have gone up and down the scale searching for the much sought after note.
As always when others get involved with party games, the odd niggle you thought was abundantly clear is forgotten almost entirely and you spend as much time laughing at others as you do holding the mic yourself. A healthy mix of pass the mic, score chasing, duets and a few additional modes are all contained within and provide a reasonable variety to proceedings, though it will be UK Hits biggest selling point that will keep the party going.
The 40 songs that come packed on the disc covers all decades since the 60s and equally as many music styles. From the modern day with Tinie Tempah and Jessie J the carousel will spin and present you with David Bowie or The Animals. Rap, pop, cheese, indie and everything in between is catered for, including an enjoyable nugget of 90s with Radiohead, Pulp, Blur and Happy Mondays. Once again, overall, musical choice is definitely something that you cannot knock Nordic Games for. They even have everyone’s secrete guilty pleasure: Mr Rick Astley.
And it will be the songs that people will pick up We Sing for. A browse of the back of the box and if enough of the bullet-pointed tracks pique their interest then that’s the decision made. To many it won’t matter that there are no online leaderboards, no downloadable content or that what they are about to play is the personification of a game that does just enough but no more.
We Sing: UK Hits is inoffensive. As a product is does exactly what it set out to do and, depending on your taste in music, possibly achieves even a little more than that. As an experience, though, it’s a little soulless. But is it bad? No. Is it great? No. I think we know where this is heading.