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Review: Start The Party
by Tom Acres

Sony has a lot to prove with the PlayStation Move. They've got to show that it isn't just a Wii in high definition, and that it can compete with the admittedly impressive camera technology behind Microsoft's upcoming Kinect. But, most importantly, there have to be some games worth playing. The Wii has 50 shovelware titles for every gem released by Nintendo, whilst Kinect's launch line-up has nothing for the hardcore gamer.

Start The Party, previously known as Move Party, is a collection of augmented reality mini-games in the same niche as the old Eyetoy games. It does well in showing off the impressive augmented reality that the Move and PlayStation Eye camera are capable of, but as a game is it worth buying?

The first thing that'll strike you about Start The Party is its colourful and clean presentation. This is not a bad looking party game: it's bright and vibrant, the backgrounds are detailed and it's clear that some effort has been put into how the game looks. Alright, it hasn't really got a distinct personality behind its appearance, but this is still quite a pretty game. What's most impressive about the way the game looks is the augmented reality it uses to put you inside the game and turn the Move controller into a variety of different items depending on the game you're playing. The PlayStation Eye is able to not only display you on screen within the game, but can also track the Move controller and replace the glowing ball on the top with another object, creating the effect of augmented reality. The game also takes a photo of you for your scoreboard avatar, and you can record your name so that the game can call you when it's your turn, which are both nice touches. It's very impressive, but unfortunately all it really makes you think is how cool it would be in a game that was actually decent.

It's not often I talk about the presentation of a game first, but I thought I'd get the positives out of the way because, quite frankly, this is a rather poor attempt at a mini-game collection. For a start there are only 20 games to play, which - compared to the eighty-or-more in Nintendo's Wii Party - is a very poor effort. It means that the game becomes old incredibly quickly, and a family can get a taste of every game within a weekend, whilst none of the games manage to maintain their appeal for more than a week or so. It isn't helped by the fact that Startg the Party is terrible at rotating the mini-games, meaning that you play the same ones far too frequently. For some strange reason, when using the Party Mix option (which allows you to choose which games you want to play) you're only given a selection of around six of the games instead of the whole set. It's a baffling design choice.

The games themselves are a mixed bag: some are reasonably fun, but others are frustratingly bad. Squatting bugs with a tennis racquet and painting shapes are handled well, whereas directing a rescue helicopter and creating wind to guide falling parachuters make very bad use of the Move controller and as a result are more annoying than anything.

Obviously this is billed as a casual game for the whole family, but it still commits the cardinal sin of not rewarding player skill. Like Mario Kart Wii (in which, no matter how good at racing you are, one blue shell could be the end of you), Start The Party gives the worst player in the game the opportunity to gain a decent amount of points before the deciding round by doing the simplest of tasks. It means that rather than the best player going into the final round thinking they've deservedly won, they go into it on the back-foot. It might not annoy some people, but those of us with a competitive streak will be launching their Move controllers at either the television or other players in anger.

It's also worth noting the mind numbing audio. The music is repetitive and the sound effects are cheap and loud. The announcer is also a right cheeky bastard, and after a few games you'll really want to slap him (along with whoever thought it was a good idea to purposefully not include the option to mute him).

Start The Party seemingly had two aims: to create a compelling and fun mini-game collection, whilst also showing off the capabilities of the Move and Eye camera. Unfortunately, the actual game section is executed badly. If you want to show off the Move to your friends then this might make a decent weekend rental, but there is no way you should be paying £30 for a mess such as this. Start the Party is one party you'll wish would just end.

2/10 [?]

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- Tom Acres

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