Kinect: Star Wars review
Kinect: Star Wars is finally here. Rewind back a bit to E3 two years ago when it was first unveiled as more of a tech demo and how awesome it looked. Using the force to push back stormtroopers, clashing lightsabers in battle — this was going to be the hardcore game for the Kinect. As much as it pains me to say this, it falls short of the hardcore market, and by a longshot too. Kinect: Star Wars instead caters to a younger crowd of Star Wars fans, or the die hards that have to own everything Star Wars related.
That isn't to say that the game is bad. In fact, I was surprised at how much better it was since its last outing at E3. It was more responsive, had more modes, and looked really great.
The main attraction in the game obviously is the Story mode. After choosing who you want to play as, you're then trained in the arts of a lightsaber, and then whisked off to Kashyyyk for more training by Master Yoda. In true Star Wars fashion, sh*t hits the fan. Kashyyyk gets overrun and you're tasked to get rid of the attacking Trandoshans and battle droids.
Let's be honest here, what really matters is how awesome you feel when you swing a lightsaber. Kinect: Star Wars doesn't do a terrible job at it, but there is still something missing to the experience. For the most part, the game can read your movements fine, with horizontal slashes and vertical slashes, but this is far from a one-to-one experience. The biggest issue here is that you're holding nothing. It's tough to even imagine a lightsaber in your hand when there is no resistance, especially in a lightsaber duel. You also use your other hand to force push or lift objects which can be very helpful against other enemies, but it also feels slightly awkward, mainly due to the fact that it sometimes doesn't read your hand correctly.
Speaking of duels, those are slightly disappointing, as they revolve around a defense round and then an attack round. You're given visual cues by your opponent whether to block low, high, left or right attacks, and when your opponent finishes, you switch to offense and slash to your hearts content. It's only disappointing in the sense that it doesn't feel how a heartpumping lightsaber duel should feel. Again, it's largely because the aim is at a younger crowd.
I think the biggest problem people will have is how on-rails the campaign feels. It does have some great setpieces — such as speederbike chases — but as you move through the various areas in the game, you'll notice that you're always on a set path. You can move your foot forward to dash towards your enemies, but as soon as you're there, whipping your lightsaber around will always automatically point you to the next enemy and dash to it on its own. You're never free to walk around any area, instead you're always jumping or dashing to get from point A to point B.
As disappointing as the story is, I have to admit I did have fun slashing away at enemies with my make-believe lightsaber. I also tried holding my Force FX lightsaber and see if the Kinect would still pick up my movements, but alas, it didn't. It obviously wasn't without its faults, and there were times where my lightsaber swings weren't registered, but luckily this wasn't a recurring problem, or at least not as much as other people seemed to be reporting.
Oddly enough, some of the other modes are way more enjoyable than the Story mode itself. Podracing is by far the best. If there was anything done right in Episode I, it was the podracing, and luckily, it's just as exhilarating here. You control the racer just as they do in the movie. With two hands extended, you can pull one back in order to turn in that direction. What did feel slightly cheap is that even the racing was slightly on rails, pulling off hard turns without much input needed from me, and instead my input was more used to smash and crash into other racers on the track. Even so, the podracing still felt great, and it was by far the most responsive when it came to Kinect recognition.
Duels of Fate were fun enough, though they did require you to go through specific key battles in Story mode, but they were largely the same as the battles you did back in training. Simply defend the oncoming attacks and then let loose to do some damage. You do get to fight Darth Vader though, so that's cool.
The mode that had everyone in an uproar, myself included, was the Galactic Dance Off. Before I found myself hating it at first, I was simply confused. I could not comprehend how this could work in a Star Wars game, not to mention ruining some of the most key scenes from the movies. Seeing Han Solo emerging from carbonyte just to dance to Jason Derulo's song "Ridin' Solo" but instead parodied in Star Wars fashion and called "I'm Han Solo." But when I started to play it, and it not only resembled Dance Central, but was pretty much a carbon copy of it, it hit me once again. It's aimed at a younger crowd! Though seeing Leia in her slave outfit is not the most appropriate thing to watch when you're a young gamer, there is no denying that based on the song choices and the ridiculously cheesy yet hilarious parody lyrics, this is undeniably for families to enjoy. I hate to admit it, but the songs grew on me, and regardless of them being cheesy, they did have clever lyrics.
The most forgettable mode is the Rancor Rampage. Assuming a role of a Rancor that escaped Jabba's palace, you wreak havoc on the unsuspecting Mos Eisley. I still couldn't quite figure out how I made him move forward, but basically just thrashing around will mostly get the job done. You're also tasked with certain goals during each level, like throw a citizen a certain number of feet or destroy a building with a charged ram.
While Kinect: Star Wars is far from the hardcore experience Star Wars fans were hoping for, it still manages to be entertaining, as long as you're not expecting anything more from it. Families with Younglings will undoubtedly get a kick out of it, and most definitely make their midichlorian count rise.