I've been playing a lot of shooters at this year's Gamescom- and will be playing a whole lot more before the conference ends. Quite frankly, I was starting to crave something other than bleak wartorn environments and noscope headshots... so when Nordic Games invited me along to try out the new Robbie Williams-branded version of We Sing I was genuinely looking forward to the breath of fresh air.
After picking my way through the bewildering labyrinth of lavish industry booths and suited figures behind the Business Centre doors, I was shown into the Nordic centre booth with low expectations and a creeping sense of dread. However, I'm delighted to report that I left with a beaming smile on my face. After some hands on time, a dignity-smashing singalong and a developer chat we're convinced that it's almost certainly worth checking out by Robbie fans. And to be honest, it's a guilty party pleasure in its own right.
Nordic Games are designing We Sing: Robbie Williams (which we'll be shortening from here on out) to be a complete fan-service experience rather than just a lazy track pack with a famous name slapped onto the box. We're approaching the 20th anniversary of the controversial singer's recording career; and to celebrate, Wii Sing Robbie contains 24 tracks that span the entirety of his career. There's also an as-yet unannounced song that's likely to be picked from Robbie's upcoming Greatest Hits album. Our money's on Shame.
Continuing the theme of genuine fan service over lazy rebranding, WSRW shoehorns the star into the action at every opportunity. Singers earn Awards for exceptional performances and fulfilling various thresholds that unlock Knebworth concert footage (including full-song videos); which grants a rare dimension of longevity that's rarely seen in the genre. On top of this, your performance during each song will be rated by the man himself. Seventy stock phrases have been recorded for post-song ratings as well as a number of menu introductions and singing lesson prompts. We were also informed that the game will be hosted by a virtual 'Wii-fied' avatar of Mr. Williams, though unfortunately (?) this feature wasn't present in the preview build.
It's time to get stuck into the singing. WSRW uses a modified engine and identical game mechanics to We Sing Encore, which allows four players to sing along at the same time. Competitive and cooperative play amongst all four choristers can be selected- and the vocal track can be removed in its entirety to provide an authentic Kareoke experience. Whilst I certainly don't consider myself to be a Robbie fan, I knew a fair few of the songs (and so do you, be honest). The likes of Angels, Rock DJ, Supreme and Mr Bojangles are included in the setlist, but after a while we plumped for Let Me Entertain You for our singalong. Tom's recent We Sing Encore preview will fill you in on most of the details about hitting the right notes, percussive vocal prompts and the overlain video footage, but suffice to say that it was as intuitive to play as you'd expect from a Wii music game. Since we'd hit most of the notes and garnered the high score , Robbie proudly announced that he “could hear our soul”... which was praise indeed considering the convention-ravaged warblings we'd managed to produce. It was good, clean, silly and cathartic fun.
We sing: Robbie Williams will hit stores this October to coincide with the release of In and Out of Consciousness: The Greatest Hits 1990-2010. Whilst most Wii wannabe-superstars should stick to the mainstream We Sing titles, diehard fans will probably be in for a treat with this one. It's better-featured, more fun and provides infinitely more longevity than a track pack- and is bound to get busted out for some raucous Robbie renditions after a few drinks.