Game Rant's Ben Kendrick reviews Yoostar 2
Yoostar 2 is a sequel but, for many gamers, it’ll be their first experience with the series — as the original iteration was not available on consoles. Yoostar 1, which released in late 2009, sold through exclusive retailers (such as Bloomingdales as well as Amazon) and was only available on PCs (as well as Mac). The first game was of a more proof-of-concept than a modern video game offering.
Has Blitz Games Studios turned the basic premise established in Yoostar into a fully-formed console offering with the recently released Yoostar 2? Read our review to find out.
The simple answer is: yes and no. There’s no denying that Yoostar 2 is an entertaining party-style game capable of offering hours of (albeit cheesy) fun. However, everything outside of the basic game premise — Shoot. Star. Share. Yoostar makes YOO the star of famous movie and TV shows — is mostly underwhelming. That said, given the fun that can be had, the grainy visuals, bizarre clip selection (we’re looking at you Mad Men), and lousy user-interface don’t detract from the overall experience too much — since, if anything, the sub-par performance of the game unintentionally lowers the bar of entry (making it less intimidating for shy gamers). Players looking for a social gaming experience will not be disappointed — Yoostar 2 supports up to two players at a time (even in a single shot).
A couple notes for any potential Yoostar 2 buyers.
- The game requires Xbox 360 Kinect or a PlayStation Move set.
- If you're playing on a stock Xbox 360 without a hard drive, you will not be able to save, upload, or even watch your videos.
The title boasts 80 clips out of the box (some are just “Hollywood Sets”) but a number of them are lackluster (or flat out bizarre) selections that, when compared to clips like the “Tonight we dine in hell” speech from 300, fall extremely flat. Along with classic movie moments such as “I’ll be back” from The Terminator, “Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?” from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, and “One-man wolf pack” from The Hangover, Yoostar 2 also contains less inspired choices such as “I haven't touched your seat” from Norbit and “Me no estas too good” from Along Came Polly.
Certainly not all of the videos need to be iconic staples but, with only 80 clips to choose from (unless you want to pay for DLC), it’s hard to ignore the feeling that the Yoostar 2 team may have been reaching with some of the selections. Similarly, considering that some of the big-name franchises such as Mad Men and Meet the Parents, offered disappointingly short or altogether obscure clips, it seems likely that the team focused more on the titles they could put on the box - rather than how much fun those particular scenes might be to play. That said, given that the game features an ad-lib mode for each clip, even the least-inspiring scene choices can be turned into a fun video — with some improv and creativity.
The tech itself is decent enough — but anyone looking for a close to green screen experience will undoubtedly be disappointed. In ideal conditions, meaning good lighting and a flat empty wall behind the player, the Kinect/PlayStation Eye (with Move) both performed competently when tracking the user and inserting them into the on-screen action (albeit in low-res with a garbled halo around the player image). That said, the composite video is a mess - but it works well enough to succeed at being silly and entertaining - as a novelty alone.
Check out two of our videos in the links below, since Yoostar 2 does not allow embedding (more on that later), to get an idea of what the game looks like:
The line-reading mechanic does a solid job of tracking whether or not the player is speaking each word at the right moment; however, at times, the effect is largely undermined by ridiculously long pauses between non-speaking dialogue (of other characters in the scene) and when the player is supposed to start speaking. In the end, it probably makes the end-result video better but, in the moment, it can be confusing — as the player might have to wait five or more seconds to fire back a line in a conversation (because the player-character, which is not on the screen was doing some subtle physical acting). Similarly, it would have been nice if, in addition to the dialogue indicator (think bouncing ball), the game also offered a small countdown or some other icon that would let players know the exact moment when the camera was going to shift back to them (or away from them). As a result, it’s hard to get the timing down — even on scenes you might have seen a dozen times - and, consequently, it's hard to not look surprised when you're unexpectedly on the screen again.
Some of these problems are alleviated in the aforementioned, and far superior, “ad-lib” mode - which allows the player to act in the scenes (or against Hollywood backdrops and stages) without using the original lines. This particular feature highlights Yoostar 2’s greatest strength — it’s a platform for creativity and fun. As mentioned the tech isn’t as clean as it could be and the clip choices aren’t always stellar but neither of these will detract from players creating their own dialogue and actions — filmed against iconic characters and set pieces.
Check out one of our favorite Yoostar 2 ad-libs below (courtesy of Yoostar user Jose):
King Kong - The wrath of Kong
That said, no amount of creativity can overcome the biggest disappointment in Yoostar 2: poor implementation of the user interface and lousy social networking implementation — specifically the lack of an option to upload to YouTube or, at the very least, easily embed content on sites other than the “Yoostar Playground” Facebook portal. Instead, social networking is relegated to “Share” links that allow players to post the video to a Facebook wall or send out an e-mail or tweet. It’s not that these options, themselves, aren’t fine — it’s just that, YouTube integration would have made sharing the videos much easier (not to mention offer a better platform for especially creative ad-libs to take off).
As it is, it’s difficult to easily share the content without feeling like you’re spamming friends and family. Any video submitted through Yoostar must be approved by a moderator (which occurs surprisingly fast), making the only sensible reason that Yoostar 2 doesn’t allow uploads to YouTube that the developer wants to control the content — so that it can only be viewed in direct relation to their game. It’s an understandable limitation but it inherently works against the title’s core concept of “sharing.”
As mentioned, the user interface for both the Facebook management portal as well as the on-screen navigation and menus are poorly implemented (to say the least). The management portal doesn’t load correctly in certain browsers and, more importantly, lacks essential options — such as a the ability to switch a video from “Private” to “Public.” Instead, once you’ve uploaded a clip, it cannot be changed (or even re-uploaded from the hard-drive) — even to alter privacy settings. In preparing content for the review, I put together several clips — which, because I wasn’t ready to make them public at the time, are now locked as “private” videos — and, as a result, can never be seen by anyone but myself — unless the Yoostar team patches the game with improved account functionality.
Yoostar 2 is exactly what you expect — a gimmicky social title with limited replayability (once you’ve performed all the clips). It’s a fun and hilarious experience for a time but, without more robust sharing options for the creative types, it will most likely become relegated to a player’s party game collection.
Yoostar 2 is available now for Xbox 360 Kinect and PlayStation Move.