Yoostar 2: In The Movies Review
Developer: Blitz Game Studios
Available On: Xbox 360 Kinect and PlayStation Move (Xbox 360 version reviewed)
Video Game Karaoke, a concept that is starting to resemble beating a dead horse, yet whip out a few beers and a bath full of Vodka, and suddenly everyone wants to be their own favourite rock star or singer. Rock isn’t dead man, it just requires drunkenness!
This however, is Karaoke with a twist, “Movie Karaoke” if you please, where you will re-enact some of the greatest movie scenes of all time (citation needed) in front of a television screen, for the amusement of everyone else in the room, and if you so choose, random judges on the world wide web.
Are you the next biggest hollywood superstar? No, you aren’t. But Yoostar 2 might be fun, right?
If you invested in an Xbox LIVE Vision Camera all those years back, you might feel a certain similarity to a title called “You’re in the Movies!” when you get involved with a heavy play session of Yoostar 2. The premise is rather simple. Standing in front of either the Xbox 360 Kinect Sensor Bar or the PlayStation Eye, you will navigate menu’s with either your hands (Kinect) or the PlayStation Move controller, selecting clips of films that you would like to try your hand at performing.
The clips are never particularly long, and if you know the movie you are acting in, never particularly hard. As a solo experience you will be rewarded fairly quickly with a healthy amount of achievements or trophies and video replays of the scenes with you looking spectacularly stupid and gormless.
Straight away though, the menu systems (with Kinect at least) spectacularly let the game down. Reams and reams of menu structure stand in the way of you actually playing the game and at times you’ll find you spend more time in these menu’s than actually acting. This isn’t a Yoostar 2 problem, and you’ll find most people will comment on a similar situation with most (but not all) Xbox 360 Kinect games. Although a game like Yoostar 2 will be inherently aimed toward the “casual” market, it really does seem strange that there is simply no option to navigate the menu’s with a controller, then place it down, and get “on set” to act in your scene.
Once you finally get into a scene, it can actually be a lot of fun. Put simply, you then have to lock yourself into a position (you choose either of the main actors in a scene if there is a back and forth) and you act however you wish whilst speaking the lines displayed at the top of the screen. You act out the scene to the best of your ability, whereupon you are treated to a replay and are graded on your performance.
Therein lies another problem. If you don’t know the scene you are performing verbatim, you will have to look at the screen to read the lines. How many films have you watched where the actors or actresses stare at the camera? The result is that the reply will show you stood facing the camera, blankly reciting lines and not interacting with the other on-screen actors whatsoever. This is a problem, but one that won’t affect everyone, and just like with other Karaoke games, or Music games, it’s about memory, and you’ll come back to the game time and time again (hopefully!) and perform better. Younger players will almost certainly not know all the film scenes in this title!
Or at least you would come back to the game time and time again, if it weren’t so friendly with the rating system. Despite staring blankly at the screen, if you hit the dialogue correctly, you will more than likely receive five stars and unless it’s a scene you particularly love, you just won’t feel the need to come back to it.
Something you probably will come back to however, is the unscripted ad-lib scenes. Initially you only get a US Presidential press conference style background (more unlock as you progress) to speak from, but the 45 seconds you’ll receive to talk about whatever you want will result in some of the silliest and most hilarious moments among friends. You can bring props into the scenes, utilise your surroundings and you can re-enact how the Bill Clinton “Monica Lewinski” press conference should have gone, with her appearing from beneath him, wiping her face. “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”.Yes you did Bill, we all did.
Another issue with Yoostar 2: In The Movies is that during a scene, the volume is lowered so that you are picked up by the microphone in the Kinect Sensor Bar (and presumably the same with the PlayStation Eye) without the other actor’s lines also being picked up (you are graded for remaining silent when required as well as hitting your lines on time), but this means you’ll probably end up turning the volume way up, especially in unfamiliar scenes, in order to hear the other actor’s feed lines correctly! Of course, when you finish and get the playback, the volume will now be incredibly loud!
There is a career mode in Yoostar 2 called “Challenge Mode” which has you starting with simple one-liners, gradually progressing into full on Eddie Murphy “Herpes Simplex 10” territory, and more! This is also where you will first find the ad-lib modes. Challenge mode starts off as an enjoyable experience, but pretty quickly you’ll jump back into the ‘quick play’ mode, because just like with music games, you’ll want to pick the scenes you play, and not have them dictated to you.
Socially, Yoostar 2 attempts to hit all corners, with Twitter and Facebook interactions, and there is also www.Yoostar.com where you will be able to see other people’s videos and share your own. This is all done rather well, and there are rating systems in place to weed out the best from the worst. Each video is apparently vetted also, to avoid too much profanity, but let’s face it, the odd penis always slips through, such is life.
Yoostar 2 ships with 80 film clips and apparently there are going to be “hundreds” more available, more than likely via DLC. One thing you can’t complain about is lack of content. Despite some of the clips being short, there is a huge variety of scenes to pick from, running the gamut from Casablanca to Beverley Hills Cop, or The Terminator to American Pie. There really is something for everyone here. The multiplayer obviously adds longevity to the title, working pretty much the same as the single player, with you each picking a role within the scene, getting into the correct zone and acting it out.
VERDICT: Yoostar 2 is an interesting idea, in a very real sense hamstrug by its platform, at least with the Kinect version. Get a few drinks in and you’ll be laughing like loons and more than likely have a great time. Play it solo and you’ll probably feel very self concious and simply not have much fun.
To get the most from the Kinect version you’ll need to have a reasonably big playing space and have good lighting too. A step up from “You’re in the Movies” then, but only just.