Rate this Review: Kinect: Star Wars
HIGH: Swinging your imaginary lightsaber and having the game make the sound effects instead of yourself.
LOW: Feeling like someone turned off your Force powers when the Kinect's input lags.
WTF: Watching Lando act out a bad scene from You Got Served.
When Microsoft Studios released the first teaser trailer for Kinect: Star Wars at E3 in 2010 two thoughts came to mind. The first being "Finally an excuse to wiggle around like a Jedi in front of my TV" because let's be honest, most of us were doing that already whenever we watched the movies anyway. Sadly this excitement came to an abrupt halt as my cynicism kicked in moments later and I thought "The Kinect is not ready for this."
However, it has been a year and a half since then and in gaming years that is quite a bit of development time.
Now like most games that have been designed around the Kinect, Kinect: Star Wars is mostly a collection of mini-games. The game's campaign is called Dark Side Rising and is where you'll spend most of your time hacking and slashing with your lightsaber and force pushing droids and poorly trained stormtroopers. Dark Side Rising is the game's narrative, single player mode where you become a blooming padawan and play through major events that begin during the Clone Wars.
Jedi Destiny: Dark Side Rising is the games RPG mode that places the player in the shoes of a young Jedi.
Dark Side Rising is equal parts fun and frustrating. The voice acting is sub-par and the narrative structure is choppy at best. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a goofy grin plastered on my face as I mowed down wave after wave after wave of battle droids, but the pace of the game isn't controlled by the player due. You've traded your controller for rails. Once the wonder and magic of my childhood faded I found the campaign very repetitive, even the epic lightsaber battles began to feel rehearsed. Simply put, the mechanics inhibited the immersion.
The Duels of Fate mini-game allows you to engage in one on one duels similar to the ones you encounter through out the campaign. The gameplay is slow and seems particularly susceptible to sluggish input, which only serves to drag things on even longer.
Rancor's Rampage places you in direct control of a Rancor and, well, rampage about. I'll admit I enjoyed this mini-game more than I probably should. It's Star Wars meets Godzilla as you run rampant through Mos Eisley destroying everything that's in your way. Now the controls here are a little harder than the game's other modes so if you find yourself in a particularly aggressive rampage you can tucker yourself out. Remember the golden rule to city wide destruction: pace yourself.
Podracing. I had flashbacks to being eleven when I discovered the N64 title Star Wars Episode I: Racer. Podracing delivers if nothing else and can either be played in a story mode, where you progress as an up and coming podracer, or simply dive right into individual races. There was very little input lag in this mini-game, possibly because of the simplicity of actions, though there are still draw-backs. Holding your arms straight out in front of you is surprisingly exhausting and in some of the longer races it becomes a sheer test of stamina. Ultimately, it fails to compare to Star Wars Episode I: Racer and makes me wish they would take what they have and develop a full game. It is still a lot of fun and who knows you might come out with rippling shoulder muscles.
Galactic Dance Battle is the game's knock off Dance Central mode. Now, and I know I was in the minority here, but this was one of the aspects of the game I was looking forward to the most. Bear in mind, I'm a wiggler. I avidly play Just Dance because I have no shame and honestly it's fun to me, because I have zero dancing talent and wouldn't be able to publicly do so if these games never came to fruition. The problem is that it's nothing like the current dancing games on the market. You can literally stand still and still rack up points: which ruins it. On top of that, they've created ridiculous stories filled with even more ridiculous dialogue that puts our beloved heroes in an almost embarrassing situation.
It's not that I can't believe Han and Lando would have a game of one-upmanship on the dance floor, but they certainly wouldn't do it in the place where Han was frozen in carbonite and last I checked there wasn't a DJ's booth there in the movies, though maybe I missed that in one of the re-releases. If they wanted to include this as an aspect of the game they needed to finish the product and cut out all the unnecessary dialogue. Don't sell us on the situation because it's one fans won't buy and you're doing a disservice to the characters, the fans and yourselves.
Now the target audience is pre-teens. All the trailers show pre-teens as the players, the game has a pegi rating of age 12 and up and there's even a kid on the front of the box. All of the dialogue and stories are geared towards a ten year old kid that simply wants to live out his fantasies. The controls are relatively simple and the game is forgiving to the point that for the average gamer it provides no challenge aside from having the courage to pop and lock it in front of your friends. If you're into mature games and you sneer and show nothing but disdain at what the Clone Wars television series means for the franchise then be prepared for this title to rub you the wrong way. Does this mean it's not fun for adult gamers? Of course not, but it's only as fun as you're willing to be a kid and simply enjoy it for what it is.
All things considered Kinect: Star Wars is fun even if for just a little while but it is a Kinect game through and through. Kinect: Star Wars is just another collection of mini-games meant for casual, social gaming. I enjoyed myself, not because of the design or gameplay, but because it was Star Wars and for every ounce of enjoyment I got out of this title there was equal amount wondering what this game could have been.
Until developers actually begin to challenge themselves on finding unique ways to implement the Kinect, rather than limiting themselves to what can currently be done, then all Kinect games will ultimately be the same game experience.
Disclosure: This game was obtained via retail store and reviewed on the Xbox 360. Approximately 6 hours of play was devoted to single-player mode.
Parents: Received a pegi rating of ages 12 and up which can be reviewed on their site. Aside from the risque of Leia's slave outfit in the Galactic Dance Battle the game is as clean as the Clone Wars television show.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing: Dialogue can be subtitled and tutorial tips appear through out the various modes so it's considerate of those with hearing issues.
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