With wide advertising and a big dollop of publicity at the launch of the New Xbox Experience, You’re in the Movies was given quite a billing. But is the latest console-cam game fit for the Oscars?
We’ve seen several iterations of the console camera game before, but not always with the same star power stuffed behind the adverts. The premise of You’re in the Movies is to put you, at home, in "the movies". The game is based around a stereotyped Hollywood experience and can feature up to four players.
It is fairly clever the way it has been devised, with a collection of mini games contributing to the final "movie". These mini games allow various movements to be captured which can then be inserted into various different scenarios. To fill in you’ll also be asked to do some other bits to camera for particular expressions or actions.
These mini games are strung together and notionally scored, so that as different players take part there is some element of competition to it, but this rather fades into the background as you become increasingly aware of how these clips are going to be used. So you may be asked to make the monkey dance by shaking some maracas, scoring points, but also supplying plentiful footage of you waving your arms around like a loony.
As a single player game, it gets pretty dull, pretty quickly, as you whizz through the movies and find that most of the action is handled by the same, pretty much default, characters, with only a fleeting glance of yourself on the screen. Flip this over to four players and you’ll find that things take much longer and if you have nothing else to do at the same time (we’re guessing drink beer and eat Doritos) it does get a little tedious.
Yes, there are some funny moments to be had as people make a fool of themselves, but the games don’t seem to be as fun as (going back some years) the original EyeToy games on the PlayStation. The movie twist gives it a unique dimension, but when you see the results of your labours you may well be disappointed. With four players, all your messing around will eventually boil down to what is basically a movie trailer and something of an anticlimax.
But getting to a final result is plagued with problems, the biggest of which is around the set-up. Firstly where you choose to play You’re in the Movies will make a huge difference to the experience. It seems to be a constant struggle to get any sort of quality out of the supplied Xbox LIVE Vision camera, especially when placed alongside the default stand-in characters – you can’t seriously believe they were filmed with the same camera?
To maximise potential you are guided through a few procedures and given guidelines and a hammy introductory video covers all sorts of aspects. But the vital step is when it comes to cut out the background. It will ask you to step out of shot and then analyse the scene so it knows what to delete when you step back in to frame. This almost works but is fraught with problems so careful consideration is needed, especially at parties and so on.
There is no green screen provided, even though the characters on the box cover and again in the game are seen cavorting in front of this vital ingredient. If you happen to have one, then great. If not, you’ll need to make sure that you stand out against the background. If you happen to have pastey white skin and pastey white walls, there’s a good chance you’ll be invisible. Wearing black clothes against a magnolia wall seems to work, but again, if you have a dark picture on the wall, it can’t distinguish between you and the picture, so an inconvenient square will vanish.
Lighting is not as critical as it might seem, as over-exposure seems to be a bit of a problem, but if you set-up the room and then the sun comes streaming in through the window, you’ll need to recalibrate again. It’s a bit of a faff and given the nature of most people’s living room - colour, texture, furniture, people - it’s going to be a problem.
"Movies" unlock as you progress and you can enter the director’s chair and devise your own, which is simple enough and pulls from the stock already provided so you can set-up some comedy moments for your mates, but really, you’ll have to be a dedicated fan to put the time and the effort into doing so because the more you dive into You’re in the Movies, the more you start wishing you were doing something else.
£44.99 (with camera), £29.99 (software only)
Spectators seem to get the most from it and children love seeing themselves on the screen, so from that aspect this is a distraction, ideal for parties or giving kids something to do whilst the adults put their keys in a bowl downstairs. You can save your movies for sharing later, but it’s only really funny the first time round after which you’ll quickly tire.
Which makes the price seem a little steep. The inclusion of the camera might be useful if you don’t already have it, but an RRP of £30 on the software only title is just far too much. This has the feel of a free download, with one or two levels being just about enough.
If you’re really after You’re in the Movies, you should be in luck as there are sure to be plenty to pickup second hand.