Kinect Star Wars ReviewMike Villalon
"I find your lack of control disturbing"
Kinect Star Wars gives players a reason to finally use their Kinect system in the way it was designed to be used, albeit in a frustrating and often unresponsive way.
The game offers you five major gameplay modes for you to choose from. The main story quest is titled Jedi Destiny: Dark Side Rising, and is the predominant mode in Kinect Star Wars. There's more to the game than this though, with four other game modes titled Duels of Fate, Podracing, Galactic Dance Off and Rancor Rampage. Each of these offers fun side experiences that compliment the core story and the Star Wars universe, but don't deliver anything special. It's important to note that most of the gameplay modes can also be played with two players.
The story takes place sometime during the Clone Wars. You begin as a Padawan in training with a group of others. You are taught the basics of the games mechanics, beginning with lightsaber control, force control and basic movements. The story moves fast and quick, taking roughly four hours to complete. Each moment in the progressive story is segmented by short gameplay sections that work as checkpoints in the game. There is no true flow to the story though and it seems to be roughly pieced together as an after thought. You will come across a small handful of characters from the Star Wars universe you know and love, although there are only a few of them, so don't expect to see all your favourites.
The main story in Kinect Star Wars plays out in small sections, with each part usually offering some difference in gameplay, combined with something you have previously learnt. This however runs dry very quickly and you will be finding yourself doing the same thing over and over again, with each of these differences in gameplay being not that enjoyable to begin with. It seems that the developers thought that jumping six times in a row would be fun.
The motion controls are the overall focus of Kinect Star Wars. You attack with the lightsaber by swinging your hand, you raise heavy objects with the 'Force' by holding two hands out and lifting them slowly and you jump and dodge by physically jumping and dodging. Your arm will most definitely hurt if you play longer than an hour, making it sometimes difficult to play for long periods of time, or even come back to the game the next day.
The way in which the controls are set makes sense, so it never becomes too difficult to understand how to get your character to do a certain action. The controls are often frustrating though and they usually don't work how you want them to. Sometimes, what should be a simple strike with the lightsaber, becomes a frustrated mess. The character tends to act freely, trying to mix what your doing with what the game wants you to do. This often results in unresponsive and ugly movements. When the game does work correctly though, it feels great and most importantly fun, but this only happens on rare occasions. This seems to be a recurring issue with motion controlled games, with a few exceptions, and only helps in proving that the Kinect system is just not completely ready to be utilised in the way the developers intended it to. The potential is there, as evident in Kinect Star Wars, but it's still not as responsive and accurate as it should be.
There are only a few different enemy types in the game, which is understandable because of the games short length, but still very noticeable. You will fight the same enemies practically over and over again. At times you often feel rushed because of the intense situations happening on the screen, but if you take your time and make sure your movements follow the guidelines given, you'll find that the overall gameplay becomes a more responsive and rewarding experience. The game always remains relatively fun and it constantly tries to impress you by its interactive gameplay, although it often falls short due to its unresponsive controls.
The four other game modes offer interesting gameplay that usually provides a short amount of entertainment. Duels of Fate works as one-on-one battles between a number of well-known characters such as Count Dooku and Darth Vader. It offers very little and the gameplay is mostly taken from the main story mode.
Rancor Rampage allows you to run rampant with a Rancor, destroying homes and killing people to build up your rage meter. Its a strange gameplay mode, but its often satisfying to destroy homes and launch humans great distances, even if it is a little sadistic.
Podracing is yet another type of gameplay that comes from the story mode. You essentially race against twelve competitors, all fighting for first place. Just like Duels of Fate and Rancor Rampage, It provides you again with only a small time consumer.
Finally, there is the gameplay mode that surprised many when it was first revealed - Galactic Dance Off. Surprisingly, this small dancing game, which plays in a similar manner to popular dancing games, is actually quite fun and humorous, offering Star Wars-cliche lyrics to well-known pop songs ('Hollaback Girl' by Gwen Stefani becomes 'Hologram Girl'). Its relatively fun, offering something different from the main story and also provides the most responsive controls out of any of the game modes available.
The games visual presentation looks fine, sometimes providing the player with some great cinematic moments. The games overall presentation often has a few problems though, such as syncing inconsistencies with voice acting and random frame-rate issues. This, mixed with the control woes present during the story mode proves that while Kinect Star Wars may be one of the best Kinect games available, it still remains to be a frustrating adventure in this well known universe.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.