Lips: Party Classics is the second song pack that has been released for the original karaoke game on Xbox 360. The “Party Classics” the name refers to are 40 karaoke songs that you’ve probably heard a million times before. Avid crooners might find the selection somewhat played out, but on the flip side, these are all songs that most people already know and love.
Like its predecessor Lips: Number One Hits, is a bundle of 40 songs being offered for a slightly lower price than the original Lips package. Since this is something of an add-on, the game assumes that you already own a microphone or two. If you don’t, we recommend picking up the Lips mics, which are great looking wireless peripherals that also have some simple motion sensing abilities. For example, you can tap an invisible tambourine or mimic playing the guitar with the Lips mics and the game will recognize this movement, you won’t get this little bonus with a standard USB mic.
At its core, this is still the same sing-along experience presented in the first game. There’s the single player mode that lets players rank-up the more they sing and a bevy of multiplayer modes including versus, co-op, and three amusing mini-games. Players can never fail out of a song, you just don’t receive as many points for botching the rhythm or pitch. Instead, players are enticed to sing well through a seemingly never ending stream of awards, trophies, and rank.
There are tons of display options, like adjusting mic volume, changing what imagery appears on screen during a song, and even adjusting whether lyric previews appear before song segments. On a pure technical level, Lips is a very strong Karaoke game and I recommend it for anyone who loves belting out tunes in their living room with their friends.
Karaoke fans should take note that the Lips experience is greatly enhanced by being attached to Xbox Live. Here you can compare your performances with friends and the overall Lips community, giving an extra reason to practice your skills. There are also a huge number of tracks for purchase over Xbox Live. They’re all listed in the main song menu which can be quiet a tease, but the sorting options allow players to filter out songs they haven’t purchased if you don’t plan on spending any Microsoft points. And if you do care to purchase more music, there’s a Hot Tracks feature in the main menu that shows which songs the community has downloaded most.
You’ll see a few cosmetic and feature upgrades from the original Lips that were also present in Party Classics. The mic tutorial has returned, so syncing the wireless mics is a breeze. The menus are slick, and give players the option to change the look between a few different themes. Jukebox mode is gone, but you have the ability to build playlists from the menu so putting together a continuous party mix is easy.
Freestyle mode allows players to sing tracks from a device like an iPod or Zune through a USB cable, connect to Windows Media Center, or play back tracks that have been ripped to their Xbox 360 hard drive. Accessing your own music library is one of the best features of Lips, your songs won’t have the same functionality or presentation as official Lips tracks, but you can sing along to your own music for no additional cost, and that counts for something.
The load times are decent throughout most of the game, but there are a few instances where there are extended pauses to read data or communicate with the server. For example, you’ll be twiddling your thumbs as the game loads the initial song list or whenever you access the friends list to compare scores.
The biggest accessibility issue however is that you’ll still have to change out discs if you want to access songs from other Lips games. These tracks are labeled in the menu as requiring the swap and they still lack album art. I found myself avoiding songs from other discs. If Rockband was able to manage an import function, it should be possible for a karaoke game. Hopefully if they bring out a proper sequel to Lips, that option will be included.
Like the last installment, Lips: Party Classics isn’t considered a full game, so you’ll only be able to grab an additional 250 achievement points by mastering the title. It’s a strange decision, considering there are examples of less expensive games which have the full 1000 points.
Lips: Party Classics includes the same set of improvements and flaws that were present in the Number One Hits song pack. It’ll add 40 songs to your music library on Xbox 360 that has something for everyone even though Karaoke veterans have probably already belted them out hundreds of times. Singers hoping for a way to avoid swapping discs from previous Lips games, or some sort of online multiplayer will have to keep waiting, but overall this song pack will keep you crooning for another party.