Have you ever sat down and watched a film or TV show and lamented the performance of one particular actor? Perhaps you see a film and thought you could do a better job yourself? Well if that sounds like you then you may be interested in trying Yoostar 2 for Xbox 360 Kinect, PC, Mac, and Playstation Move.
The premise of the game can be summed up thusly: movie karaoke. By standing in front of your system of choice’s camera you are able to be pasted in to scenes from dozens of movies and perform along side some of the most popular actors of all time including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Humphrey Bogart, and Marlon Brando.
Yoostar uses impressive technology, known as Active Immersion Technology, to digitally remove the actors from each scene, and superimpose your image directly in to said scene. There is a wide variety of material to choose from, including Movies, TV shows, and specific sets, such as the bridge of the Enterprise, to stage your own performances.
To play you simply need to stand in front of the Kinect camera/Playstation eye/computer’s webcam in the specified position. Once you are ready to go you simply need to read your lines as they appear on the on-screen Teleprompter. Points are awarded for accuracy, dynamism of movement, and how well you deliver your lines. Conversely you are punished for not sticking to the script, taking too long to deliver your lines, or completely missing your cue.
Once your video is complete you are shown a basic break down of your performance, and a star rating (out of five) is awarded to you. Your videos can be uploaded to Yoostar site, twitter, and facebook, allowing you to share your best performances with your friends, family, and strangers alike.
On the disk there are 80 scenes to choose from, ranging from classic Hollywood movies, such as Casablanca, and The Godfather, and more recent popular films such as Kick Ass and Tropic Thunder. Most movies only have one scene to choose from on the disk, but there is a wide variety of scenes to choose from, covering most genres, from drama to comedy.
As well as the mode dedicated to religiously following the script, there is an Ad-Lib mode. This lets you have a little fun, and say your own lines in well known movie scenarios, which is humorous enough. Unfortunately there are no points awarded in Ad-Lib mode, or a star rating, and as such no real incentive to keep playing it, bar the limited fun to be found in posting your own random videos online.
There is also a Challenge mode – with over 100 challenges to take part in – which offers the only structured form of gameplay. You are given a set scene and must perform specific tasks. These tasks range from performing as accurately as possible, doing the most outrageous Ad-Lib, or doing more perculiar things like performing outside of the camera’s view. These quirky challenges are probably the most interesting thing in the game, as they can create some amusing results.
However, there is one real problem with this game, and that is the basic set up. Adverts on TV make the game look crystal clear, featuring perfect sound. In reality you need very specific lighting to get the best results. I may be in the minority here, but but there isn’t much I can do change the lighting in my front room, which is the best room to use Kinect in. This has lead to some pretty mixed results.
Using natural lighting, and keeping the camera out of direct sunlight, I found that there were big chunks of myself missing, with a terrible jaggy outline, which really shattered the illusion. As time passed, and the light from the sun changed, the effect got worse. It is clear that Yoostar 2 is best played in a well lit artificial environment, however not many people will have access to such a place.
The second major problem is a severe lack of content. In other karaoke styled games, such as Rockband, 80 songs would be more than enough material because each song lasts up to 5 minutes. However, the majority of Yoostar’s scenes barely last one minute, with many lasting significantly less time. I found I had done everything I wanted to do in the game within an hour and a half.
Overall the content on offer is a bit disappointing, as it appeals to the lowest common denominator. Most films only have one scene to choose from, with a very limited dramatic range. It would’ve been nice to see more scenes from each of the films with a wider range of emotions, such as the scene in which Don Corleone goes to the morgue to pick up his son Sonny’s body in the Godfather.
As the game is Teen rated this means more adult scenarios, such as violence, cannot be shown. Whilst this probably says more about me than the game, I am disappointed by the plain choices on offer, and would have liked to have seen a little more maturity in the game. Not just in the scenarios or language, but the film choices in general.
As of writing there are a number of expansions to download from Xbox live and PSN, so there is some hope that in the future they may release some more challenging material. Yet, considering how short most of their scenes are, they probably are not worth downloading at the price they are. I do welcome the additional support of extra downloadable scenes, but to have so many available on launch day seems a little mercenary.
Graphics: 2/5 The actual graphics in the game are incredibly plain, and rightly so. The focus of attention should be on the movie scenes, and not some brightly coloured flickering background.
Sound 3/5 The movie clips on offer feature clean clear sounds, and the game’s menu music is perfectly decent enough.
Gameplay: 2/5 While a lot of fun at first, the gameplay is actually very limited. Best played in groups or at parties, this is a game that works best in short bursts, or else the game’s limitations quickly become apparent. Technical limitations, mostly to do with getting ideal lighting, will also impact the game’s performance.
Longevity: 2/5 With 80 scenes to choose from on the disk, and dozens of downloadable scenes to purchase, on the surface there appears to be a lot of material to choose from. However, the material on offer is mostly run-of-the-mill, that appeals to the lowest common denominator, and may quickly lose its appeal.
Overall 2.5 out of 5
Yoostar 2 is an ambitious attempt at utilising new technology, such as Playstation Move and Kinect, to bring a little Hollywood in to our lives. However the game is let down by technological limitations, mostly revolving around lighting, and a fairly pedestrian selection of scenes. Whilst there is fun to be had playing it, to get the most out of this game, save it for parties and social gatherings and play it in short bursts.
Yoostar 2: In the Movies is available to buy now on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC and Mac.