U-Sing 2 Australian Edition is one of a series of international versions of this title. Each version features popular songs from Universal Music Artists, where a core of international tracks is supplemented by local content. Not big / cool / bad enough to warrant a purely Kiwi edition, the copy on review here is the Aussie version, which features 40 tracks - 16 of which are by Australian artists.
When you first start up, the interface is pretty standard and easy to use. You can choose the number of players, the difficulty, and get straight into singing, or head into jukebox mode to just listen to the songs and watch the music videos - if you feel like singing along more casually without needing the mic.
Other options include Medley (a bit of a game within a game where you can sing random extracts from five songs, and try to sing them all perfectly), or for the more musically challenged there is also U-Sing Right, which is a very basic singing lesson. In this mode you can ‘learn to sing in time and tune’, allegedly! It probably won’t help the truly tone deaf, but could very well be a feature that is nice if you’re new to console karaoke games, and aren’t really sure how it all works (let’s face it, these type of games are all about relaxing and having some fun with your friends, so this might be good to help your confidence enough that you would pick the mic up next time it’s handed to you.)
In the Options menu, you can make the obvious changes, and tweak up and down the levels of your singing volume, against the background singing and accompanying music, etc...
So onto the song selection...specifically, how are the Australian Tracks? Well, we may refuse to admit it in front of them, but the Australian music industry is in pretty great shape, and it would have taken quite a while to whittle down to the final 16 Aussie tracks chosen for this version. Damn them. There are a couple of obligatory older Aussie classics, (Where the Wild Roses Grow by Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue, and I Touch Myself by the Divinyls) but the rest are newer artists, and good choices throughout - the Potbellez, Missy Higgins, Powderfinger or the Temper Trap - good choices to satisfy most tastes.
The international choices are also good, again with a few oldies like More than Words by Extreme and the Spice Girls’ Wannabe, and the list is bolstered with newer hits from Rhianna, Florence and the Machine, Lady Gaga, Mika and Fall Out Boy. Additional songs can be downloaded if your Wii is internet enabled, by using your Wii points.
One nice touch that sets this game apart from its competitors is that you just get on with the singing, and there’s no other noises other than the music. ie, no booing and hissing if you get a series of notes wrong, and no off-putting noises when you start doing well.
Another exclusive is Battle Mode, where your success can give penalties to your opponent, and drastically reduce their chances of beating you. This mode drops obstacles in your opponent’s path - this can be the random removal of lyrics, trembling, sound loss, etc etc, all designed to put them off.. This is sure to appeal to the darker Karaoke warriors among us, who throw parties just so they can bust out the “Oh, what shall we do....ooooh, I know, let’s try some karaoke” and then casually suggest a song they have practised the hell out of.
(I actually do know people like this, and avoid their parties)
The microphone included is adequate, but held in direct comparison to the microphones that come with Singstar it feels a bit plastic and light. The Singstar version is metal and more...substantial feeling, somehow. Also, I think it distorted my voice, because high on the adrenalin of having achieved “professional” on a couple of songs, I thought I’d replay myself, and bask in the glory...I sounded dire. Bleak, appalling, cringe for the rest of your life bad...I’m thinking that MUST have been microphone failure, definitely couldn’t be any issue with my smooth musical stylingz.
For the antithesis of the Karaoke Sith lords described above, U Sing 2 also has options - if you want to just free sing, and not be scored, you can remove the bar, and just sing along for the fun of it, using Jukebox mode.
So to sum up, this game is good clean fun, really. There’s a good selection of songs, including the Australian content, which makes it feel a bit more local (even here in NZ) . It’s easy to use, and simple, which is what you want when you’ve got a couple of friends over, and just want to quickly get on with having fun, rather than mucking around menu surfing.