IGN Review of Yoostar 2 In the Movies
Within the last hour I've commanded the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, flown through the sky wearing blue tights and a red cape, defended the reputation of Leonidas from a doomed Persian messenger, and had my rib cage crushed by King Kong's fist. It's been an interesting evening, courtesy of Yoostar 2.
The Yoostar concept is simple enough. Like a movie version of singing at a karaoke bar, it's a game that offers a selection of iconic scenes from Hollywood blockbusters and lets you jump into the action. Digitally removing the actors who originally starred in them and having you step in to read their dialogue instead, it generates brief videos of you, as the star, filling in for the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Russell Crowe and speaking such famous lines as "This is Sparta!" and "Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?" If you're feeling a bit bolder, then you can ad-lib all-new dialogue and make the scenes your own.
Well, you can when the game's working right. Yoostar 2's ambitious concept has merit for sure, and it's well-suited to casual get-togethers with friends in the same way a karaoke machine would be -- but karaoke machines are never this tricky to deal with. Yoostar's got technical issues. Big ones. And they might just keep you from starring in much of anything.
The game attempts its visual trickery in the same way a Hollywood production would green-screen an actor -- it uses the camera of either the PlayStation Eye or Xbox Kinect to capture you, then digitally removes the background of your living room to replace it with the scene you're starring in. We've seen this kind of thing before so it's not an entirely original idea, but it's still a good one when it works.
Here, though, it rarely seems to. Yoostar's always projecting large, blocky visual artifacting all around your body on every side -- and, often, entire portions of yourself will be missing. Your hair will be cut off, your arm will disappear. It's a mess. The game seems to be incredibly picky about the lighting of your room, the distance you're standing from the camera, and other finicky nitpicks that threaten to pull you out of the fun you might have otherwise been having.
Some players, laughing along and enjoying Yoostar with a group of friends, probably won't mind it -- they'll just take the fact that the camera lost track of their torso and run with it, working it into their improv for added hilarity. I did that once or twice, and it can certainly be comical in that way. But in the end it's just a problem. Neither the Kinect nor the Eye are powerful enough to perfectly correct for the imperfect conditions that'll be present when most people are playing, and so you've just got to resign yourself to the fact that your finished video clips are going to look bad -- or else invest in an actual green screen and perfect lighting setup to give the game a hand.
Beyond Yoostar's visual troubles, too, lie a few other issues that bring the package down -- like the limited selection of scenes to choose from. Yoostar's default roster of clips stored on the game disc isn't huge, representing only about 80 different films and generic backgrounds to use in making your videos. That's enough to have a couple hours' worth of fun, but not much more than that. Pretty soon you're cycling back around to the same clips you've already seen and played around in.
That's where the Yoostore tries to offer its services. Yoostar 2 seems to be trying its best to be the next Guitar Hero or Rock Band by supplying extra tracks for download, for a price. But I think the valuation is off with that equation. A great song is worth listening to many times over, and playing it to perfection in one of the rhythm games can be a rewarding challenge. But watching the same 30 seconds of The Terminator again and again just wears on your patience -- and the gameplay is not nearly compelling enough to justify that kind of play, or paying for the opportunity to try.
Which is Yoostar's final and ultimate failing: it's just not much of a game. Its gameplay tries to ape the "did you get the words right" mechanics of older karaoke games, but it comes across as arbitrary in its scoring. It'll award you random amounts of bonus points for posing your body, or detract from your score if there was too much background noise in the room with you. It just feels silly. And the only people likely to put up with the nonsense of its single-player campaign mode are probably Achievement and Trophy hunters.
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