Developer: Blitz Games Studios
Publisher: Yoostar Entertainment Group
No matter how cynical or jaded I am you are, there's no denying that being a movie star is a wistful childhood fantasy that's rarely destined to come true. Yoostar 2 has demonstrated that I'm a truly terrible actor. But in the comfort of my own lounge, I can now ham it up to my heart's content.
Yoostar 2 offers 80 clips in which the main actor has been digitally removed, allowing players to step in and fill the role themselves. Once you've chosen the scene and your role of choice it, a character guide demonstrates where you'll need to stand, and familiar scrolling text prompts show you when to speak your lines. Despite a little ghosting and pixelation in low light levels, the quality of the video and sound recording is excellent (the screenshots are in standard definition, for the record). Note, however, that you need to put your Kinect sensor as centrally and close to the TV as possible - preferably atop it -so that you're not constantly looking out of frame to read the autocue.
After you've delivered the performance of a lifetime, you'll then be able to view your as a standalone video. This is the main focus of the game, and even if you're an extremely cynical and jaded individual, the thrill of actually watching yourself within classic movies is one of the most enjoyable things you can do with your Kinect sensor. It's fun to keep a few of your best clips on the hard drive, but it's also possible to upload your performances to the Yoostar servers. Once videos are moderated to ensure that you're not cussing up a storm or waving your genitals around with merry abandon, your clips are put online for the community to rate, view and accrue awards. Climbing the rankings can be very addictive, though beware of trolls. Facebook and Twitter integration make for some very, very, VERY embarrassing social notifications. As you can see.
Games like this live or die on the strength of their licensed content, and I'm delighted to report that the selection of clips is absolutely excellent. Want to star in The Terminator? The Hangover? Blues Brothers? Tropic Thunder? The Locutus of Borg scene from Star Trek TNG? You absolutely can. Oh, and that scene from 300 is arguably worth the price of admission by itself.
Madness? This! Is! Awesome!
Yoostar 2's challenge mode tries to turn the experience into a game, but with mixed success. Points are awarded for delivering lines on time and for flailing around in an appropriate way, but you'll frequently find yourself penalised for not moving around enough even in scenes where the actor himself is static. The Quick Play mode is infinitely more rewarding (and convenient), but without multiplayer support or two-player scenes, it doesn't make for a particularly entertaining diversion. Family fun, yes. Geeky escapism, infinitely yes. But the lack of multiplayer modes is a glaring oversight.
It's also arguably a short-lived diversion rather than a fully-fledged game. Once you've appeared within your favourite clips, there's little reason to return unless you've fully invested in the social side of the proceedings.
The huge amount of floorspace required for Kinect titles is no secret (or laughing matter), and Yoostar 2 is naturally no exception. Dynamic camera zoom means that players won't have to kneel before the sensor in order to appear in close-up shots, but be aware that you'll need a lot of lateral room in order to appear in the extremities of several scenes.
Right, it's time for a quick Public Service Announcement regarding sound recording and playback. Many players - myself included - were dismayed to discover that Yoostar 2 failed to record any sound whatsoever... but this is an easily-corrected conflict with the Kinect firmware rather than a flaw within the game itself. Remember to switch off all standard controllers before playing, as well as changing your chat settings to speaker or both within the preferences menu (accessible from the Xbox Guide). Don't despair. Yoostar 2 isn't broken, but it's a shame that this niggling problem wasn't properly highlighted in the documentation.
It's also worth noting that Kinect titles are still very much in their infancy, and while Yoostar 2's gameplay is solid, they're clearly still getting to grips with how to design a functional user interface. It looks flashy enough, but switching between modes and clips takes far longer than it should due to small buttons, long unnecessary screen transitions and too many menus. Kinect lets developers put lots of options on the screen at once, but Yoostar 2 makes players jump through several screens' worth of hoops when one would have sufficed. We'll hopefully see this phenomenon start to phase out as developers get a better handle on what we need from a GUI.
Yoostar 2 set out to put players into their favourite films... and at the end of the day, that's exactly what it does. Like most Kinect titles, it requires players to lose their inhibitions and get involved. If you're the kind of gamer who plays Wii Sports sitting down, this is definitely not for you. But the more effort you put in, the more rewarding the experience will be. The core concept has been executed extremely well, and with the social functionality now in place, we have high hopes for a sequel that brings more features, multiplayer and... well... longer clips to the table. Yoostar 2 may be destined to be a cult classic, but its successor could easily become a blockbuster.
- Good clean fun that rewards a complete lack of inhibition
- Strong mechanics and community aspects
- Impressive selection of clips. This! Is! Awesome!
- Arguably a fleeting novelty
- Too many badly-designed menus
- No multiplayer
The Short Version: Yoostar 2 succeeds in its mission and fulfils its limited remit admirably. Starring in your favourite films is one of the most enjoyable things you can do with your Kinect sensor at the moment, but the thrill is ultimately short-lived. Better streamlining and further tweaks could make its sequel a box office smash.