On paper, TV Superstars should be a great game. In these celebrity obsessed times, as a premise, making the player the star of their own shows isn't actually a bad idea. Add on the fact that this game uses the PS Move Controller and Eye camera allowing a good degree of interactivity and it looks like you should be on to a winner. Sadly, what could be great is, in my opinion, rendered mediocre by an unfortunate combination of poor game play, over-long load times and ultimately, a complete failure by the developers to understand the possibilities of the Move controller or keep a budding star's attention for any length of time at all. TV Superstars just isn't a very good game.
Where it starts to go wrong:
The game starts with you, the player, in the Green Room. From here, using the Move controller, you start by making your character. Through clearly followed instructions, you use the eye camera to capture an image on your face with different expressions; neutral, happy and angry, in all honesty given the game play that is to follow you probably don't need that happy face. It's a nice idea to put a real photo avatar onto a graphic body, unfortunately it doesn't work very well on several levels. Firstly, it's surprisingly hard to line up your face on screen with the camera without rolling your eyes upwards to see what you are doing, so even the most photogenic of people end up looking ever so slightly weird. It just doesn't look very well mapped, and this is not good considering as, whilst playing you have to stare at your own horribly morphed face on screen during the game. If, like me, you are someone who doesn't like their own photo at the best of times, possibly you are going to find having to look at the worst photo of yourself you can imagine whilst you play rather an issue.
Things don't improve with the fact that the aforementioned hideous photo is added onto a impossibly toned TV body - this might be a good thing in theory, who hasn't dreamed of having the perfect body? Unfortunately however, though you are able to change the face shape, size zero and a rather oversized bosom is the only possible body for female players, and, trust me there's something very wrong about seeing your 7 year old on screen with boobs. The eye camera's integrated mike is used at start up and through out the game to record your catch phrase, again, a nice idea, however it's not long before it starts to grate or appear pointless. This is mainly due to the fact that once you actually start to play and work your way up to being an A-list superstar, you soon realise that fundamentally TV superstars is a pretty frustrating and mind numbing experience.
There are four games available to you in the form of TV shows when you start the game. Clearly here the designers of the game have been careful not to over imitate any actual show whilst trying to hint at an real show. So we get a DIY show that's a little bit like "Changing Rooms", a cooking show with a rapping chef, "Frock Star" that's a hint of America's/Britain's/Wherevertheysoldtheshowonto's Top Model and a Wipeout-alike programme that's a bit like whatever that TV show that was on BBC1 that involved people in funny clothes flinging themselves through moving targets, whose name escapes me. This, ironically, is probably apt as, unfortunately there's nothing very good or memorable about the games here either. Though as you progress through TV Superstars, playing either solo or in teams, you can unlock further challenges and levels on the games, and even whole new shows, it's hard to muster up the interest for long to actually get to this point. This is partly because progress throughout the game is so frustratingly slow. You spend most of your time either re-calibrating the Move controller endlessly for no obvious reason (this is noticeably worse in team play), or waiting for games to load. It's a bit like queuing for 2 hours at Alton Towers in the blazing sun for a ride, only to find it's broken down when it's your turn at the front of the line. Endless cutscenes and pauses abound before you even get to play.
When it is eventually your turn to star, in all honesty the games seem contrived and just not a very good use of the Move controller. The DIY game sees you completing make overs, fun in theory, only you end up wielding the move controller as a hammer to strip wallpaper (why?) or roll on paint in an unconvincing manner, compared to other games that I have played with the Move controller, the movement just doesn't work very well and the aspect ratio is somehow all wrong. It's hard to forgive the fact that the graphics are nothing to write home about either, never have I seen the PS3's potential harnessed quite so badly, and the whole thing ends up with a pointless drag and drop furniture items activity that would be fine on nintendo ds but is pretty pointless on PS3. In this game the Move controller hampers your play of the game rather than adding to it in any meaningful way in my opinion.
Things don't, in all honesty, get better in the cooking game, which is just bizarre. It's like a poor imitation of "Cooking Mama" where, mid chopping up onions and whisking batter, you suddenly have to break into a rap whilst waving the Move controller about following arrows on the screen. It's not fun and I would go as far as to say it's actually even quite embarrassing. In the "Frockstars" part of the game there's more Move waving to be done as you "vogue" following the arrows on the screen, success in this seems random to me, you can be told your move is "hot" or "too slow" in the same breath. The rest of the show sees you dropping and dragging clothes items onto your own impossibly thin body or applying make up onto your own face in a cack-handed manner due to use of the Move controller with results a 3 year old would be proud of, at best. It's all pretty tedious and though, at times, the game tries to add hints of humour or to motivate you with a an encouraging voice, if ever there was an excuse to throw the controller at the screen, this game would be it.
The Wipeoutalike challenge game isn't very good either, as you can perhaps imagine by now, involving you having to throw yourself at a target in the first game, and, as I discovered, in the un-lockable spin off game having to fire balls at targets on a screen with all the finesse of a shooting game, circa 1995. It's almost like the developers gave up at some point during the creation of this game as even they could see it was going nowhere fast.
There's some interest to be had from the extra features of the game where you can record TV commercials, with more being unlocked as you progress, or gain more points by endorsing products, but the whole game is such a pastiche of weirdness and frustratingness that it's hard to be very bothered about doing very well in this game because ultimately whether you do or not seems increasingly more random and pointless the longer you play.
In themselves in parts the music and commentary on this game are actually fairly good, but as I have said in parts the graphics are just unforgiveably bad, and a mish-mash of various graphic styles that just don't go together. In terms of control the use of the Move controller is at its worst in this game, it's not fluid, you seem to have to use the move and T buttons in bewildering manner and it's just not very good or authentic. From playing other games I know that the Move controller has the potential to be so much better than it is here, and it's hard to get past that.
It's difficult in all honesty to know who they expected this game to appeal to, for, if you haven't guessed, we've found there's very little, if any, attraction to it at all in this household. Younger players who might forgive the embarrassing nature of some of the games just look wrong in the game and soon lose interest in it, and for the more mature player it's just too silly and pointless. If playing in a team it has slightly more interest, but all in all the game just fails to engage. I liked the idea of this game, which actually has fairly positive reviews on amazon, along with a wildly fluctuating price, and thought that it had potential. Having played it as extensively as I can bear (I got to B list if you are interested) I can't forgive its many flaws I am afraid. It's got limited interest, bad longevity and in the main the game play is a mixture of the weird and the pointless and strangely lacking in fun of any description to boot.
If this Star were competing in Big Brother, they'd get thrown off the first week, if they were in "Dancing on Ice" they'd be a Kerry and not a Sam, if they were on "I'm a Celebrity.." they'd be the one everyone votes for - to eat live cockroaches......... need I go on?
Games should just be better than this.