PS2 REVIEW: CMT PRESENTS: KARAOKE REVOLUTION COUNTRY

Strap on your boots, slap on your cowboy and wail offkey for hours, until someone shoots you. by Cole Smith

March 25, 2006 - Karaoke Country is the first karaoke game ever devoted specifically to country music fans. "We is gonna' have a time tonight. You light the fire, Slim will go and pick up the Pirdy twins, and I'll find someone that can read the instructions for us."

If there's one thing that American Idol and its many spin offs such as CMT's Nashville Star, have contributed to society, it's a slightly more educated listening audience. Let's face it, if you're tone deaf what right have you got to make any judgement on a singer? I'm sure most people don't think Simon is as bad as they thought he was four years ago. It's not that he's gotten softer, it's that he's helped to train peoples' ears to be more critical and discerning. You're more inclined to agree with him now because you can finally hear that he's right.

Homebody karaoke singers may be able to escape Simon's wrath but at least this game includes pitch detection software which lets you know in no uncertain terms that you're singing flat or sharp. The more in tune, and in time, that you sing, the more points you will earn - not to mention the less peoples' ears you will hurt. Want a tip? Never sing in public unless you can hit that meter right at least 95 per-cent of the time. You'll be doing the world a favor.

If there's one drawback to this game it's the song selection. While 35 may sound like a lot of songs, that adds up to a little more than two hours of tunes. It's less than most karaoke games offer. Keep in mind that even though these songs are country songs, that doesn't mean that all country fans will like them all. There are old classics such as Patsy Cline's, Crazy, and Kenny Rogers,' The Gambler, mixed with contemporary hits such as Gretchen Wilson's, Redneck Woman, and Big & Rick's, Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy. First off all, I'm sure that most singers that like Save a Horse could give a rat's ass about Crazy. Not to mention that some of these songs are very gender-specific so you won't find too many guys willing to attempt Redneck Woman. In this way the song list is rather limited. This "something for everyone" concept would be more aptly titled, "not much for anyone." You'll be lucky if you find fifteen songs that you want to sing. But then again practice makes perfect and you might just end up singing a few songs over and over and over until you get them right. I hope you live alone.

The songs are well recorded. There are background vocals that provide harmonies and even a lead track to guide you through the melody. You can adjust the volume to your liking so that you can still hear it but not so that it's overpowering your own voice - then again maybe it sounds better that way.

Country songs have their signature vocal gimmick. Instead of the annoying free-style scale scats that are popular in pop and R&B, country has a certain twang component to it that you might want to consider how to master. It's sounds like someone reaching puberty. It's a break in the pitch almost like a Southern drawl that has a slight yodel characteristic to it. And it's every bit as annoying as the scale scat. But the pitch detector won't be able to register any of this twang if it's not an integral part of the song. If you try to slur and rise up to the pitch instead of hitting it dead on, you'll wind up losing points - even if it sounds brilliant - but I doubt it.

You can create your own character, beginning with the body type and moving on to accessories such as that damn cowboy hat you'll probably want to try on. If you're really feeling foolish, you can import your own face on to your avatar via the Eye Toy camera. It will capture an image of your mug and render it on the performing character. It's a novelty to be sure, but it doesn't look bad. I may still look bad regardless, but that's not the fault of this feature.

With the party mode you can have a sing-off with seven of your friends. If they don't want to play along you can sing until they go home, which will probably be somewhere between Johnny Cash and Waylon Jenning's rendition of the theme from the Dukes of Hazard. Please act out the parts for full impact.

Duets are also included so that you can get used to sharing the stage, and the shame, with another singer. You can even try your hand at singing harmony which can be a real tricky skill to cultivate. Keep in mind you're going to need two separate microphones to pull this off correctly. Each singer will have his or her own words and melody interface displayed at either the top or bottom of the screen.

The songs are relatively easy to sing. The words are big, well timed and appear on the screen with an arrow that indicates the relative pitch of each word. If you don't know the exact melody, and you do need to know it exactly, you can turn up the lead vocals and listen to the song a few times until you get comfortable with it. Your avatar will be moving and grooving to the beat, getting more confident as you win over the crowd. There's a Crowd meter to the right of the screen which will show you how you're doing. Performances will take place in various neon-lit honky tonks and concert venues. It all looks somewhat hokey and cartoonish.

Even for a game that focuses solely on one genre, this collection of songs is too varied to please all country fans. It would probably make a fun rental for a weekend. Don't buy this package unless you're a true fan of corny songs…er… I mean country songs.

Features:

  • 35 of the greatest country songs ever recorded including hits like Redneck Woman, I Like It I Love It, The Gambler, Stand By Your Man, and Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)
  • Plug in two microphones and perform duets and a variety of other fun multiplayer and party modes for up to 8 players
  • Customize your character's body type, hair, clothes and accessories Create a 3D model of your head using the EyeToy USB Camera (for PlayStation2) and see yourself perform on stage
  • Unlock constant rewards for top performances including new songs, characters, accessories and more
  • Requires a PlayStation 2 compatible USB microphone or headset

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
CMT Presents: Karoake Revolution Country (PS2)
4.0
Graphics
The words and the melody interface are bold and easy to read. The characters and the venues are clean, if not a little too stiff and clinical looking.
4.2

Control
The ideas is to stay on pitch and accumulate as much points as possible. This means no experimenting with the melody or displaying annoying vocal gymnastics.

4.4
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The songs sound great. Each one has a lead vocal track that you can use to learn the melody
2.1
Play Value
The average singer will be bored with this collection of tunes in a couple of days. There just isn't enough content for any one gender.
3.5
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: PS2
Dev: Harmonix
Pub: Konami
Release: Mar 2006
Players: 1 - 8
Review by Cole

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best