Here’s a title that has split opinions, take the canon of Star Wars add some Kinect magic to the game and let an awful lot of closet Jedi Knights live out their dreams. Should be a no brainer really.
This title met the market to mixed reviews; something which I believe is more related to hopeful anticipation as opposed to taking the game at face value. Star Wars, like many other Kinect titles delivers a collection of mini-games that resort to a fairly standard combination of Kinectypical experiences. What does stand out is the setting, taking the Star Wars universe in hand and offering the player an interactive experience is a good step in the direction of satisfying all those childhood lightsabre fantasies.
The most varied and interesting area is the Jedi storyline, playing the role of a padwan the player is drawn through a narrative, using Kinect to wield a lightsabre and Force powers at a slew of familiar enemies from the more recent movies. The controls are implemented with some flair and work well, the action moves from mob fights to duels smoothly, navigation around the levels is sometimes a little clunky, but it works. It is not long before the player is comfortable with this game and soon wave upon wave of enemies are being sliced, kicked and thrown around. What I think this particular section does display is that a combat orientated Kinect game would be possible, with some further refinement and a fantasy setting without the branding I would be happy waving around invisible swords and throwing fireballs around.
Next up is a variation on Episode One’s Podracing, this section shows some initiative in the control system controlling the individual rocket pods with each arm to enable the racer to turn and boost. In the right conditions it works very nicely, but as soon as the sun started shining through my curtains the controls lost me and my pod ended up in circles. The feeling of racing is conveyed well and while initially thinking it’s just another loose racer it actually feels pretty good.
A personal favourite and a very satisfying section is that of Rancor Rampage, taking the place of a hulking Rancor and smashing hulk-like your way around various Star Wars locations is a great way to work up a sweat. There are a surprising number of moves at your disposal and in an old school way it is quite satisfying. With multiple locations and another Rancor to unlock this mini-game does offer replayability and more importantly – fun.
There is also a one on one Duels mode which has to be unlocked (by starting the game!) which takes your chosen Jedi through some classic encounters, culminating with going toe to toe with Darth Vader himself. It is engaging, but has less ongoing appeal than the story mode or the Rancor game.
The last attempt in the battle for your attention is a dancing game, sad but true and it’s not that pretty. Achievement obsessive gamers will have to give it more than a cursory glance, but I expect it will be dormant as far as most consoles are concerned.
Overall Star Wars Kinect is a reasonable package, the mechanics work well most of the time and there are certainly worse Kinect titles out there. I get the reaction by some people and wonder if they forgot that the target audience for this game was always going to be the younger end of the spectrum, this game was never going to be a brutal Jedi Knight fighter. Enjoy it for fun and keep hold of that hope until next time.