I’ve been reviewing the Let’s Sing series for a few years now, from the mainline entries to the Queen and ABBA offshoots. Every time, there’s been a sense of ‘what if?’. What if, rather than churning out yearly cover versions, PLAION put out a completely new album? What if the flaws – the lack of a Rock Band 4-style library of persistent songs being the biggest – were resolved with a ground-up change?
As Eminem once sang, “careful what you wish for”. It doesn’t take long to realise that Let’s Sing 2024 is that ground-up change. Everything has been completely rethought. The avatar, the game modes, the way song libraries are handled, even the business model, are almost all unrecognisable, for better and worse.
The avatar’s aren’t Play-doh giants any more. They’re gone, and in their place we have floating heads and disembodied Rayman-like hands. You get to fully customise these weird apparitions with basic cosmetics, while leveling up your character – and the individual song categories – nets you further hats, sunglasses and animations. We will hold our floating hands up and admit that these new avatars feel like a change for the worse.
They might allow for billions of customisation options, but the charm is lost in the process. There’s something unsettling about them that we can’t quite pinpoint. It certainly doesn’t help that they’re always present, dominating the middle of the screen, when the older avatars were wise enough to keep to the edges. When you have more than one of them on screen in the multiplayer modes they’re completely synchronised, dancing for their AI overlords. Often, an animation glitch keeps their mouths locked open.
Game mode-wise, Let’s Sing 2024 chops out the chaff. There’s Career, Karaoke Zone (containing Classic and Feat, which will be familiar) and LS Fest, which is where the global games are played. Gone are Mixtapes, which never felt like they had a purpose next to the more versatile Classic, and the more obvious loss of Let’s Party. This last one is a bit of a surprise: it housed the various minigames of the previous Let’s Sings, where you could toss bombs at each other and collect coins. PLAION know their onions, so they won’t have cut it without reason, but it seems like an over-cut to us. Let’s Sing 2024 feels a little on the lean side without it.
There are changes within those modes. Career, replacing Legends, is more of a story-focused affair. It follows you, a budding pop star on your way to fame, and it’s told through the medium of those sodding floating heads. You chat to various music teachers and managers and rise up the pop echelons. While it’s got a bit of narrative packing-peanuts to give it more volume, it again feels slightly characterless. The songs are presented more like lessons than duets, and the result is that it’s more like dry homework than good fun.
Much, much better is LS Fest, where the global multiplayer fun is found. This has been revamped and simplified, and it’s frankly excellent. TV-like channels play whether you’re watching them or not, and you can hop in to start singing along. As you kick ass (or, more likely, come in like a wrecking ball), your little avatar moves up a global leaderboard. We even came first on Meghan Trainor’s ‘Made You Look’. First in the world! Represent.
Elsewhere on the game menus, it’s clear that Let’s Sing has finally given up and jumped on the Just Dance bandwagon. They’ve moved away from the traditional DLC model and opted for a VIP Pass subscription instead, which is going to be as divisive as you’d wearily expect. For £3.29 per month, £7.99 for three months and £19.99 a year, you get the full library of Let’s Sing songs, some of which may have been purchased in previous Let’s Sings. It’s not a bad price-point, but it’s the principle of it. And that principle may well be against yours.
There’s a challenge system too called the Let’s Sing Music Academy, which comes across as a take on a Battle Pass. We found it to be a half-hearted affair that takes too long to progress. Having played more than enough to write a review, we were still only on the third tier.
Then there’s the tracklisting, which will be where Let’s Sing 2024 lives or dies on for a lot of players. It’s always subjective, but we thought it was the worst roster for some time. If you come to the game for your classics, there’s the inimitable David Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ and Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’, but both Bowie and Queen have been represented pretty heavily on Let’s Sings before (most notably Let’s Sing Queen).
If you want bangers from the past fifteen years or so, then you have Kelly Clarkson’s brilliant ‘Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You)’ and SHAED’s ‘Trampoline’, while the past few years’ worth of hits are sketchily represented. Younger karaoke enthusiasts will be disappointed that everything has the stale whiff of 2021, rather than the 2023 of the title. BTS ‘Dynamite’, GAYLE ‘abc (nicer)’ and LSD (Labrinth, Sia & Diplo) ‘Thunderclouds’ all fit into that category.
What hit us hardest, though, is how relegated the music videos are. They used to dominate the screen, so that you could see your favourite artists disturbingly close up. Now, they’ve gone through three layers of obfuscation. First, they’re confined to a kind of marquee in the background of the screen. Then, for some reason, they have a CRT filter applied to them – presumably so that classic videos don’t look VHS-quality. Finally, the avatars gurn over the top of them, obscuring them so you can see bugger all. On occasion it’s admittedly funny to see the avatars lining up with the shoulders of Miley Cyrus, but otherwise it‘s one step forward, two steps back.
Which is the mantra for Let’s Sing 2024. Reworking the entire game is a bold move, and we hope it’s a foundation that sequels will build on and improve. Because as it stands, it’s threadbare, slightly charmless and reversing a lot of the previous games’ good work. There may be a positive future for Let’s Sing, but that future might seem a long way off while playing Let’s Sing 2024.
Editor’s Note – Previously, the review mentioned that only twenty songs featured in Let’s Sing 2024, and you needed to purchase the International Hits pack to unlock thirty-five. That is incorrect, and the base version of Let’s Sing 2024 includes thirty-five tracks as standard. We apologise for the inaccuracy. We have also added mention of the Let’s Sing Music Academy.