Let’s get one thing straight from the get go; Kinect Star Wars is not as instantly offensive as you would presume it to be. If anything, it’s actually not the steaming pile of Jedi influenced crap that it’s box art and a couple of incidental and appalling E3 appearances would have you believe. It’s not THAT bad. Kinect Star Wars is what it is, that being, a flawed unfriendly family game that has more defects than it does positive and enjoyable things going for it. But in saying that, there is some fun to be had with Kinect Star Wars, particularly for the youngsters in your household. It’s just such a shame that the positives of the package aren’t a little more consistent and unanimous.
Kinect Star Wars is something of a Jar Jar Binks; it’s just about tolerable in places but after that it’s just seems like a wasted opportunity and should not be considered one of Kinect’s flagship controller free titles. Whatever about taking one of the most acclaimed fantasy brands and licenses and making a mediocre game with it, Microsoft’s end product with this title is not what they original pitched to us, that being, a hardcore Kinect game that would do more for the hands free controller than any other game associated to the hardware. There’s nothing hardcore about this. It’s a family game, a collection of Star Wars themed mini games that can already be found on Kinect, just without the words Star Wars on the front of the box. There’s nothing wrong with its revised family friendly status, it’s just that apart from the fact that there’s nothing particularly original about Kincet Star Wars, there’s so much time gone into ensuring that there’s lots to do, that most of the game’s components feel diluted and half baked. You can’t help but feel that if developer Terminal Reality spent a little more time on a couple of the core games and less time on adding incidental dance games, then this could have been a really good game and an excellent example of what Kinect can do.
The controller (or lack thereof) is actually this game’s worst enemy. For the most part, each of the five game modes within are passable but some of which can be frustratingly unresponsive. Terminal Reality has not implemented Kinect correctly. It’s such an inconsistent package. Take Jedi Destiny mode for example. This is essentially an on-rails Jedi’em up campaign mode, giving you and an optional friend the opportunity to play Jedi and unleash fury on your intergalactic enemies using your trusty lightsaber and the Force. You’d think that just swinging your hand from left to right would be enough for the Kinect to realise that you want to put your lightsaber through some random droid’s head, right? You thought wrong. Movements are slow and imprecise. Kinect simply doesn’t read your gestures as quickly as it should, that is, if Kinect actually successfully reads them to begin with. You’ll find yourself flailing around, defunct lightsaber in one hand and mute force powers in the other. At the beginning, you’ll flail away without any real difficulty, but as soon as you meet boss characters, the game’s control issues are at their most tangible. It’s an unsatisfying campaign. You’ll just resort to slashing away to yourself in front of the TV for the most part. It could have been so much more.
Of the other four modes, Podracing, Duels of Fate, Rancor Rampage and Galactic Dance, Rancor Rampage is actually probably the best of the lot. As opposed to the main campaign and the Duels of Fate one on one mode, Rancor Rampage actually works quite well with Kinect. You’ll be given full body control of a Rancor beast and using hand movements and stomps you’ll deliver all kinds of havoc and destroy buildings, eat people and generally just completely obliterate the place. It’s great fun. They’re should have been more games like this.
Podracing is another positive, not least because you actually feel like you’re in control of a powerful vehicle travelling at a considerable speed. You’ll lift your arms to steer and push forward and back to activate power ups etc. This is another plus point.
Then there’s the Galactic Dance Mode. Yes it’s cringe. Yes it’s embarrassing. Yes it’s completely random – but, it works. Technically it’s probably the best use of Kinect in-game but with the likes of Dance Central already out there and pushing Kinect for all its got, you don’t need this, especially in a Star Wars game. The music is horrendous. They’ve taken licensed songs and have changed the lyrics. It’s unanimously cringe worthy. Just who thought this was a good idea? It’s so bad, it’s actually pretty funny. Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle” becomes “Princess in a Battle”. The Village People’s anthemic “YMCA” becomes “Empire Today” and so on and so forth. It’s madness. But if you see the funny side of it, you’ll get a few hours of laughs out of it.
In terms of presentation, they nailed it. Everything looks well and there’s enough Star Wars references in there to keep fans suitably satisfied. Expect to see famous locales, iconic characters and some fantastic audio. Some of the voice over work is questionable but you’ll give it the benefit of the doubt.
Kinect Star Wars just isn’t up to scratch. It certainly has its moments but there’s not enough in here to do justice to the licence and to the hands free controller upon which the game is built. It’s not a complete disaster by any means but it’s not what it should have been. If you’ve got little kids at home they’ll get some fun out of it. For the rest of us twenty something’s, its back to running around our bedrooms with our plastic lightsabers making swoosh noises. O well.
TGL SCORE 5/10
Format: Xbox 360, Kinect
Release Date: Out Now
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Developer: Terminal Reality