Is it OK to be competent? Is it OK, not to excel, not to push the boundaries, but just to be totally fine? It's fair to say that we all want this medium to drive forward and provide us an experience you can't find elsewhere, but when a product doesn't claim to be groundbreaking should we really expect a revolution in game design? Probably not, which is what Nordic Games is likely banking on with its release of We Sing: UK Hits.
If you've played a previous We Sing title then – aside from which tracks come included on the disc – you will know exactly what to expect as this is a carbon copy of previous entries in the franchise. Sure there are some British flags, London Eyes and crown jewels (hey-o!) scattered about the place to give WSUKH a bit of identity but the basic menus and in-game layout are the same. It's all easily navigable, no nonsense design that presents all the information you need, from song selection to how well you're doing — but with little in the way of pizazz.
After picking from the to-be-expected mode choices such as Solo, Party or Karaoke, it's off to the meat of the game: singing your little heart out to pop videos from across time that were particularly popular in the UK. It's a fairly decent set of forty from across the spectrum of pop, from bubblegum shout rock to inoffensive hip-hop and what one might label as "cheese". Bananarama and Bucks Fizz slot in next to Coldplay, Adele and Radiohead, providing little cohesion but a wealth of variety that's perfect for the party environment that this is designed for.
Like practically every other game of this type the title recognises pitch rather than carefully monitoring the delivery of the singer, representing your success in hitting the right note by a bar that fills horizontally across the screen in time with the lyrics. You won't have the ability to watch the music video playing at the same time in the background but it's a neat (and expected) feature for a singing game to have. Some tracks allow you to choose which element of the vocals you'd like to accompany, such as the Spice Girls classic Who Do You Think You Are? in which you can plump to warble along in a number of girl power-related combos.
You'll unlock achievements along the way by completing certain requirements, such as acing a tune or trying out a random song but these seem perfunctory when you'll mainly have this out at parties and it's unlikely you'll grind for 'cheevos by yourself when those merits hold no meaning outside of the game whatsoever. You can play the title by yourself of course, though besides a poorly implemented singing course full of lessons that do nothing to teach you how to sing, WSUKH really is designed for groups.
There's still no option to download tracks or post high scores online but one improvement that has been made over previous versions of the title is that running the game no longer makes the Wii's disc tray whirr so loudly that it sounds like a makeshift space launch is about to occur in your living room. This may seem like a minor change but it's a welcome one, allowing the clear audio to shimmer and shine like a disco ball.
The previous 500 or so words may be apathetic in their tone and that's because this isn't directly aimed at us readers. It's not a video game with complex systems to delve into nor elaborate rewards to unlock: it's a karaoke game built to be whipped out at shindigs and in that regard it succeeds. It's not for that niche of people who define themselves as "gamers", it's for those that want to drink too many fizzy drinks and belt out a few pop songs while they do it.
This is far more a product than an experience, utilitarian entertainment to keep a party going into the night. We Sing: UK Hits promises a collection of songs that you can sing to on your Wii and delivers exactly that — no more, no less. It's still among the most enjoyable karaoke titles on the system and the included tracks will appeal to a broad enough spectrum to make it a solid choice. That said it does absolutely nothing to improve the genre, satisfied to rest on its laurels and wait for the sales to roll in.