I can’t think of anything more fun than waving a virtual lightsaber around the living room like some out of control Jedi.
Kinect Star Wars feels like it has been a long time coming and now that it is finally here, the ultimate Star Wars experience we have all been waiting for turns out to be a short on-rails campaign packaged with a collection of mini-games, all of which cast the player “as the controller” taking advantage of the Kinect motion sensor. Navigating the game and actually getting into the action is all fairly straight forward and is at least one area where the Kinect sensor works well, with the player being able to use both their voice and gestures to move through the various menus.
The main campaign, known as Jedi Destiny, is made up of three chapters of primarily on-rails gameplay. You start out as a young Padawan learning the skills of the Jedi under the tutilege of Marva Zane and Master Yoda. The basic controls that you are taught are easy to use and you will find out how to move forward through objectives by leaning forward, dodge left and right and pick up a light saber. Whilst moving, objects can be either kicked out of the way or jumped over. You will also get to use force push to push enemies out of the way, or use the force to pull things towards you and then throw them.
Then there are the light saber battles. The light saber is a great weapon to use in a motion control game, although it does initially feel strange waving around an imaginary glowing stick. Besides the obvious swiping to swing the light saber, the player can deflect incoming laser shots back at their enemy by moving their hand in a figure of eight motion. The one on one light saber battles are much tougher and will have the player filling an attack bar before unleashing a devastating chain of blows on their enemy.
The story progresses and offers a variety of different gameplay types, including an excellent speeder bike sequence which sees you flying through the forest at high speed while avoiding enemy fire and obstacles. The presentation is lovely and the game is littered with cut-scenes, but they don’t make up for the fact that the campaign is very short and somewhat repetitive. Also, the technology is not quite up to scratch yet as some of the moves can be a little difficult to pull off. There is a certain amount of lag between performing moves and them being recreated on-screen, and sometimes the motion sensor just refused to recognise my moves at all. This resulted in a very clunky experience that just didn’t slow as well as it should.
The failings of the Kinect unit also carries through to some of the mini-games. Games such as Rancor Rampage, which takes very little precision to crush stuff and throw things, and the Galactic Dance-Off performed well. But for the games that required more precision, or more complicated gestures, things could be hit or miss.
I found the podracing excellent, holding both your arms out to steer and accelerate your vehicle, and pulling your arms towards your chest to brake. Once you’ve filled the boost meter, you can then bring your arms backwards and forwards to thrust your vehicle at full force forward. Sometimes, you’ll need to drive and shoot at the same time and this is done by lifting up your left or right arms, or you can try and attempt to ram your opponents by lifting up both of your arms at the same time. It is here that things become difficult as the sensor didn’t pick up all of my gestures, and trying to steer while doing these things is very difficult.
But the selection of courses were well balanced, with some being very challenging. The more courses you try and get through, the more pilots and podracers you will unlock, and you can even customize your podracer to a certain degree if you’re feeling creative.
The Galactic Dance-Off, a dancing mini-game the likes of which we have seen before, is of high comedic value and is simply priceless. There are many songs to choose from and they have all been given some kind of Star Wars twist to them. These are all modern songs that have been remixed with Star Wars lyrics and you get to dance in various locations from Jabba’s Palace to the Death Star. It’s slightly corny and you’ll feel like a complete Muppet, but it’s hilarious fun (if only to watch the Star Wars fanatics scowling in disapproval)
For all of its problems, Kinect Star Wars is still a lot of fun to play. Taking the game seriously will lead to frustration, in large due to the problems that Kinect has with recognising some gestures. Waving a virtual lightsaber around makes you feel like a child again as your imagination sucks you back into the Star Wars universe. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you don’t mind jumping up and down and waving your arms back and forth like a crazy person, and you can take this game for what it is, a bit of fun, then this will be right up your street. Otherwise, Kinect Star Wars is a casual Star Wars experience that the whole family can enjoy.