Yoostar 2 Review
A couple of weeks ago my wife was telling me about this really cool commercial for a video game she saw. Her and a friend went to see a movie and the commercial being shown before the movie. She was all excited about it and thought it looked really cool and a lot of fun. The game was Yoostar 2 and she talked about how awesome it looked and how you could look like you were actually in a movie. Well it so happened that I got a review copy of the game in the next day so it was pretty easy to get her to help me out with playing the game. A couple of hours later the excitement had been replaced by disappointment. Let's find out why...
The Xbox 360 version of Yoostar 2 by Blitz Games requires the Kinect. The idea behind Yoostar is simple and holds a lot of promise. Using the video and audio capabilities of the Kinect, Yoostar 2 lets you take some predefined movie moments and replace the actor with yourself and lets you be a movie star without leaving your living room. Well that's the idea anyway but because of some glaring technical issues a lot of the fantasy is ruined.
Here's how the basic scene goes. You pick a movie and in some case you pick from a couple of different scenes from that movie. From here you can review the original version to study the dialog, timing, and any movements from the actor you will soon be replacing. After you're comfortable enough and ready for your closeup it's showtime. The screen will provide a character outline of where you should be standing and it's your job to get yourself into that frame. If it's a two person scene then each person will have a different colored outline. You are given the option of trying to create the scene like the original or you can adlib if you're feeling extra creative. Now the scene starts and if you picked the scripted version a karaoke type fashion your lines will appear, color coded for each actor, otherwise you're free to say what you want. Once the scene is over, it's time you sit back and watch your performance and see how you scored.
Now if all of that above paragraph worked well then we'd have a great game on our hands. Ah, but there's the rub as hardly anything goes as planned and the fun and laughter quickly fades. One strong point that is that there are a lot of scenes to choose from and to Yoostar's credit many are classics that most of us know already. But just about everything else is rough. My first issue was how much of my living room the game wanted. I have played a few Kinect titles and for all of them I have to move my coffee table out of the way but this is the first game where I had to keep pushing my couch further and further back. It seemed that it wanted me at least seven feet away (yeah, that could have something to do with my photogenic mug). There were settings to allow the camera to try and adjust but that really just seemed to make matters worse. But fine, I could get over the room needed as long as the final product was worth it. It's not. The menus are very difficult to navigate and will frustrate most aspiring thespians. The most important part of the game to me would have been how realistically the game was able to replace an actor with the image of me. It did a good job of removing the original actor but a pretty lame job of realistically placing me in the shot. The biggest issue is the huge blocky pixel-like cubes that surround your outline. I'm not expecting Industrial Light and Magic type of green screen effects, but this was really bad looking and was very distracting. Then there is the scoring system which seems very arbitrary and frustrating.
There is a Challenge mode that reminded me of a Rock Band game where you start in a certain area of a map and must successfully collect a certain number of stars until you can move to the next section. I just don't feel that this type of game really sets itself up very well for that type of mode. I mentioned that there was a nice selection of clips to play, and while that is true I was disappointed that there were not more two actor scenes. Part of the fun is playing off another person and trying to get them to mess up...or at least that was the way I went about the two actors scenes.
Really I think Yoostar wants to be a party game but it is just not ready for prime time. Part of the fun of party games is being able to quickly pick up the game and go. That isn't that easy on the scripted scenes as there are a lot of lines and timing that must be learned, although it's a bit more fun when adlibbing. Also sometimes playing these party games might have some adult beverages involved and from experience I can say that is a bad idea because it makes a bad navigation system that much worse.
Final Rating: 52%. The basic idea of Yoostar 2 seems perfect for the Kinect, but too many technical issues means this should be left of the cutting room floor.