I remember when you used to have a professional skill that was either unique or perfected in order to be recognized as a celebrity. Nowadays, with the wildfire spread of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, anyone can have their fifteen minutes of fame. Blitz Games’ recent release, Yoostar 2 In the Movies, attempts to create a celebrity out of the player by handing over control of some of the most memorable roles in American cinema. Of course, in order for Yoostar 2 to be of any significance it has to pull on those nostalgic heart strings by offering a wide variety of highly recognizable dialogue from a full spectrum of favorite on-screen moments.
While I can comfortably tell you that Yoostar 2 has some of the most recognizable scenes from the past couple of decades, I would also like to mention that I seem to be the intended audience. I like my share of mind numbing, over the top action movies just as much as the next eighteen to twenty-five year old male demographic that resides in middle America. When I think of movies, the cover of Yoostar 2 pretty much has it covered: The Terminator, The Matrix, Kick-Ass, The Godfather, Star Trek, The Hangover, et cetera. Granted, not all of these movies fall into the aforementioned action cheese category, but they all speak to a largely male audience with highly recognizable male actors. Any American cinema time traveler will also appreciate the variety of choices that reach farther into the past including Casablanca, Grease, Beverly Hills Cop, Blazing Saddles, Frankenstein, and so on. With that being said, even though this should be played in a social setting, don’t expect too many choices for women leads or co-stars–there are only a handful of both.
It could be argued that a game that relies so much on social interaction as a hook should include more multiplayer options, but after actually trying out said multiplayer I felt it created a harmonic dissonance that destroyed the intention of the game. We all want to escape our boring, mundane lives somehow and putting us next to Gerard Butler in 300 partially satisfies that impulse, but putting us in a background of 300 with an intoxicated friend who is constantly yelling “This is Sparta!” is not the escape I’m looking for. By substituting a friend into the picture the game takes attention away from the player while simultaneously destroying the magical feeling of being transported somewhere else, with actors that can provide the serious gravitas that is needed in order to counter the terribly dressed, out of shape and poor acting counterpart that the player represents. The type of attention we strive for is one usually defined to us by television or the media which is often expressed in a very controlled, voyeuristic manner, via hidden cameras or a camera crew attempting to create a story of someone’s life that can reflect our own (thus providing a foundation that we can relate to and the need to keep watching). Facebook and Twitter are the tools with which everyday people can attempt to recreate those same controlled snapshots, exposing their life as much as they see fit and sometimes creating their own level of celebrity in the process, but in order to create the type of exposure many are looking for they have to constantly stay connected with their audience.
Yoostar 2 feeds the urges that have been socially implanted by the media by giving multiple choices in how you want to stay connected and also how you want to connect to others. Every time you create a movie you have the option to upload it to Facebook, Twitter or Yoostar 2’s own social network. The Facebook and Twitter functions are just simple linked uploads while Yoostar 2’s social network implements video sharing much like Youtube. Once your account is ready you can log into their social network, rate others’ videos, follow your favorite performers and receive up to date news about the community as well as the game. So the variety of choice, from the multitude of available on-screen moments as well as the social networks to choose from, are all great, but how does the actual video look and can the hardware live up to the software promises?
Just as the title suggests, Yoostar 2 will put you “In the Movies”, as long as you have perfect lighting, thick walls and low expectations. I personally used the Playstation Eye Camera for the Playstation 3 and found numerous issues. There are two modes, “Quick Play” and “Challenge Mode”. “Quick Play” allows you to pick anything that has already been unlocked while “Challenge Mode” creates barriers to entry by holding you to performance standards that will rank and determine if you can move on or unlock other scenes. From the video side of things it is spotty at best. Not all of my walls are just one color and because of that contrast backgrounds would sometimes be recognized as part of the player, resulting in see-through or fuzzy areas once the recording began. Not having the optimal lighting can also cause these issues, but I had three lights in an eight foot area with the sun shining in and it still wasn’t fixed. Even though there were performance hindrances on the video side I never saw it result in a low score, but the sound issues are another story.
Even without anyone around and a completely quiet house there were still many nights I had to troubleshoot problems with Yoostar 2’s audio issues. First, the initial settings for the Playstation Eye created echoes which hurt my score, causing me to go back and set up the audio for the camera from the system setting menu. Once I fixed that there were still occasions I would have to redo scenes because it was picking up outside noise that was being interpreted as out of turn dialogue. All of these issues are moot for the most part because a lot of the game comes unlocked, but if you actually want to compete for a high score or unlock extra scenes from the “Challenge Mode”, frustrations may start to set in.
In general, Yoostar 2 In the Movies does a great job of placing anyone into their favorite movie or television scene and makes it all the more relevant by adding established social networks as well as their own. The hardware isn’t up to par for any purists looking to take it seriously, but pulling it out at a party or social gathering, no matter the age, should deliver the amount of laughs it was intended to create. And who knows, maybe you’ll even get that fifteen minutes of fame.