Gamescom 2010: Def Jam Rapstar Preview - Mic Check, 1-2, 1-2!
Written Saturday, September 04, 2010 By Lee AbrahamsView author's profile
With the rise and rise of music games on consoles it was only a matter of time before someone stepped in and made a game based on one of the industry's biggest genres. No – I don’t mean Justin Bieber. I’m of course referring to R&B and Hip-hop, which have been remarkably under-represented in games like Lips, Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Here at last is a game that focuses on luscious beats, exceptional lyrics and community style to really get your juices flowing.
Developed by new boys 4mm Games in conjunction with Def Jam Interactive and Terminal Reality, you can see that a lot of time has been spent getting the feel of the game just right from choosing the 45 featured tracks to making the whole game have a wonderful community vibe.
Your first port of call will probably be the career mode, which sees you tackle five different stages with seven tracks on offer per stage. You can earn up to five mikes (no stars here kids) per track, and doing so will unlock new levels and songs. The lyric sheets for each song flow pretty well, though you may notice that a few choice words are omitted at key moments. The interesting twist was the fact our singing compare inserted those words back in and boosted his score because of it, cursing may not be clever but it gets you points – you heard it here first. The majority of the tracks on offer will be available from the off, but expect to have to battle your way to unlocking the hidden stuff which will make up 10% of the whole list.
The great thing about the game, though maybe not for those of us that can only be deemed ‘vocally challenged’, is the fact that you cannot really cheat the game in any way. In Lips you could hold the microphone up to a speaker and let the game do the work, but Rapstar is smart enough to be able to follow the pitch and timing of the lyrics so that it will automatically detect any fraudsters and stop giving out points. It will certainly separate the men from the boys. You can also select a variety of difficulties too, though rest assured the song and lyrics will stay exactly the same, and instead you will have either more or less tolerance for mistakes with your delivery. If you fancy yourself as a rap master then step up to Expert mode, where there will be NO lyrics on screen at all. Let’s hope your memory skills are as quick as your voice. Luckily the game has a complete breakdown after each song so you can look through the lyrics and see, verse by verse, where you screwed up no matter what difficulty you are on. The depth is impressive and it is sure to help highlight you improve.
Outside of the regular gameplay you can expert Freestyle and Party modes, but the real selling point here is the massive community element. Using a vision camera or the Kinect peripheral, which will be compatible from launch, you can film your entire performance during a song for your viewing pleasure – or the mocking ridicule of your friends. You can then cut out a thirty second chunk of that performance and gloss it up with up to with up to twenty seven effects, which works out as nearly one a second should you so desire. You can add simple stickers, fade effects, graffiti, animations and then blur them all together, run them over the top of one another and generally create your own masterpiece, with you centre stage of course. After watching the developer throw something cool together in about thirty seconds it is clear that this could be something quite special, and there is no doubt that hardcore fans will devote some serious time to making some top notch videos.
The fun doesn’t just stop on your own console though. You can then upload your videos online and take things to another level via the Rapstar site. The wealth of options here is pretty far reaching and there is plenty for aspiring stars to take in. Players can post up to ten of their own creations up, which can then be viewed and rated by other users. The more highly rated your songs become then the more prominently they will feature on the site. You can also issue challenges to your friends and other users, then let the community vote on your efforts to see who reigns supreme. Flick over to the global map and you can see the activity on a global scale – hover over your friend in Scotland and you can see their statistics and latest videos, as well as posting up comments and challenges. Think of the little activity map in Halo 3 but on a much more interactive and interesting scale.
Your profile can also be linked with social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in order to show off your work, drum up support for your challenges or generally diss the competition. If you don’t fancy being in the limelight then fear not – Rapstar still has a role for you. Each budding superstar needs a promoter and you can take on this role for a friend if you so desire. Your role then is to get support for your act, post up their work and get them some love from the community. The promoter role can snag points for successful; work which can then be spent on things like top flash box billing on the Rapstar site for your act. Sweet. Your online success will also be tracked by site specific achievements (no gamer points for these though I’m afraid) so there is always something to strive for.
With a wealth of online options, stats and ideas it was obvious the developers were serious when they said that they really hoped to find some genuine talent through the game. So dust off your bling now. The fact the site will be shared between 360 and PS3 users is a neat touch, and finally enables some cross platform shenanigans. Though you will only be able to duke it out via the specific internet site, as you cannot share content directly between the platforms. You can also expect plenty of DLC support too with twenty extra songs available from day one.
At the most basic level this is a rap themed singing game, but thankfully the package seems to add up to a whole lot more than that. The community aspect of the game looks supremely ambitious and innovative and, if it takes off, could lead to the discovery of the next big thing.
Expect to be dropping some bombs in Def Jam Rapstar come November 5th.