Kinect Star Wars Review for Xbox 360

On: Xbox 360
Kinect Star Wars screenshot
Kinect Star Wars screenshot

I don't love Star Wars enough to dismiss Kinect Star Wars because they made Leia dance to a version of Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl renamed Hologram Girl. I do love games enough, though, to know that most of what's on offer here is bordering on terrible, offering the kind of gameplay experience that would seem clunky, broken and incredibly dated if it were being played with a standard controller. When forced to use Kinect it adds frustration into the mix as well. Oh, and that dancing mode everyone got into a fuss over is easily the best part of the whole package.

Kinect Star Wars is a compendium of ideas and game modes, with some fleshed out more than others. The main component is the story-based Jedi Destiny: Dark Side Rising which casts you as a trainee Jedi who has to use his/her lightsaber and minor Force powers to defeat what ends up being rooms full of enemies - which come in various forms, but are mostly droids of some type or another.

The really weak enemies more or less stand there and let you virtually dice them into pieces (which is what should happen with lightsabers but never does) by swinging your arm about. You can use your other arm to Force Push as well as Force Move objects - including some but not all enemies. Things get more complex when foes block your attacks, which then requires you to block their moves (by moving your saber up, down, left or right) in order to create an opening to attack back - something that generally needs repeating a couple of times for each encounter.

Gun-toting foes try to get the upper hand by firing at you from a distance, but you can tackle this onslaught of projectiles in two ways: perform a figure of eight motion with your saber to deflect all incoming fire, or slash your saber at the right moment to send the blast right back at the enemy. Generally I found it far easier to dash forward when there was a gap in the fire (dashing itself is a pain thanks to having to step forward and fling your arms back behind you) and then leap into the air and perform a powerful lightsaber smash.

When you're not fighting you're either performing utterly terrible and entirely redundant platforming where you do nothing but jump when the game tells you to, manning a speeder through dense forest, or sitting in the gunner's seat in on-rails space battles. None of these are entertaining and most stretch the term interactive to near breaking point.

Of the other game modes, it's Rancor Rampage that takes the award for most awkward to play. As the name suggests, you go crazy as a massive rancor that's on the loose. With all movement here having to be controlled by the player (rather than the more linear on-rails feeling of Jedi Destiny), even getting from A to B is a chore. It's admittedly decent fun flailing your arms about to smash bystanders and buildings, or eating villagers to regain health, but it's a fleshed out mini-game that gets tiresome to play even before the first stage is over.

Kinect Star Wars screenshot

Podracing (as made popular by Episode One) is decently handled, but the controls feel far too automatic for the mode to taken seriously by anyone looking for a competent Star Wars racer, and the forced use of gestures for tedious tasks (such as clearing the screen of moisture) gets in the way of the actual racing. You steer by tilting your hands, boost by thrusting them forwards, and it all works as well as you might imagine when you're not trying to do various other moves that simply prove how much better the whole thing would have been with a controller in your hand. Numerous courses are on offer and there are moments of visual nicety that is sorely lacking elsewhere in the collection.

Less thrilling are the Duels of Fate challenges, which might tempt players due to the lure of eventually facing off against Darth Vader himself. The lightsaber combat (with its heavy reliance on tediously slow blocking) seen in the Jedi Destiny mode returns, and is made all the more dull when it's all you do over and over again.

That just leaves the now infamous Galactic Dance Off. A lot of people have failed to see the funny side of this, and in doing so haven't given the game's only redeeming feature a chance. It's a Dance Central-like system, albeit with Leia and co dancing in famous Star Wars locations such as Jabba's palace and the Death Star. It's entirely bizarre and yet somehow quite appealing. While I can't see anyone buying Kinect Star Wars for this mode alone, it's the one you're most likely to get something out of that isn't arm ache, a miserable face or general contempt for whoever thought the rest of the package was fun.

I don't like Kinect Star Wars. It's not because I feel betrayed by what the licensors let the developers get away with - it really doesn't bother me how Star Wars is used in popular media (I don't even care about the PC World and Vodafone adverts) - I just find the whole thing to be a terrible gameplay experience with the exception of the dancing. That won't stop people buying Kinect Star Wars and I'm sure some people will claim the whole thing is tremendous fun. The following YouTube video is good fun. Kinect Star Wars isn't.

Version Tested: Xbox 360

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9 Comments

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RankJunkie's Avatar

RankJunkie@ andyb2610

Agreed. The advertisements looked awesome, the actual gameplay sucked... :(
Posted 02:09 on 04 May 2012
pblive's Avatar

pblive@ TomO

I agree, the marketing is wrong, but I do think it's aimed at a younger audience, or at least at the audience of the animated Clone Wars series, because that's what it's based on.

But I honestly think for the most part it does the basics pretty well. There are very few issues with moving the lightsaber around, it's just blocking that causes problems, but that's due to not giving you enough warning of where the block will hit. the driving seems to be pretty responsive to steering as well.

I will try it on my kids at some point this week, but being girls they're not huge fans of Star Wars.
Posted 12:03 on 17 April 2012
TomO's Avatar

TomO

This hasn't been marketed as a kids game though, and even if it was I think lots of kids are just as discerning as adults. And as for casuals/families playing it, from my experience it's often people more exposed to games that are willing to give Kinect more of a chance when it doesn't do what you want it to do.
Posted 11:53 on 17 April 2012
pblive's Avatar

pblive

So...tried this out for 2 hours last night after my copy came through. It's not bad, actually.

Yes, the lightsabers are fairly restrictive, but it does feel as if you're actually in control of them. The force powers are hit or miss but when they do work they're pretty good. The only sore point in this part are the duels, which are messy and try to do an 'Infinity Blade' without giving you enough indication of where the enemy's blow will strike.

Podracing was surprisingly fun and the steering is far better than expected, though using hands to do other things while steering is complicated and can knock you off course.

Voice acting of several well known characters, particularly Yoda and C3PO, is terrible, but the rest of the cast do well and the storyline isn't bad. It feels like the animated series, which any fan will know is pretty good.

I haven't tried dancing yet, but if it follows the same template as Dance Central then it should be fun and it's all tongue in cheek. I feel sorry for those who take this all too seriously and can't see the funny side. Star Wars is a kids film, it always has been.

This game is designed for a younger audience. It's pretty obvious from the fact it uses the animated series as a template. Maybe it should have been called Kinect Animated Star Wars to hammer this home, but it needs to be reviewed on that level really.
Posted 08:34 on 17 April 2012
andyb2610's Avatar

andyb2610

shame this failed to deliver - was hoping for a good kinect experience.

as for other kinect games the two kinect sports games have offered hours of fun with friends.
Posted 08:25 on 16 April 2012
pblive's Avatar

pblive@ TomO

Thanks, got all of those except Leedmees, looking for other games to play on Kinect. Just been given Kung Fu Panda 2 to download, so will try that.

I did have a go on Star Wars Kinect in Tesco (yes, I'm embarrassing enough to play Kinect in a crowded supermarket) and the lightsaber bits were better than I expected after reading this review, but far from as open and impressive as I'd have liked.
Posted 00:04 on 16 April 2012
dudester's Avatar

dudester

So more haha shadaa then nah shadaa
Posted 17:56 on 13 April 2012
TomO's Avatar

TomO

I played some Double Fine Happy Action Theater and Leedmees with my little sister - they are both excellent uses of Kinect. Kinect Sports 1 and 2 are both good fun. Kinectimals is also a good one for kids. Gunstringer is good fun, Fruit Ninja Kinect is great.
Posted 17:49 on 13 April 2012
pblive's Avatar

pblive

Out of interest, Tom, which Kinect games would you recommend?
Posted 17:44 on 13 April 2012

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Kinect Star Wars
4
Out of 10
Kinect Star Wars
  • Dancing mode is decent
  • Rancor Rampage is awful
  • Visually disappointing
  • Gameplay is incredibly basic
Agree? Disagree? Get Involved!
Release Date: 03/04/2012
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Terminal Reality
Publisher: Lucas Arts
Genre: Action
Rating: PEGI 12+
Site Rank: 1,362 180
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