‘Kinect Star Wars’ Game Review

By Jordan Zolan

Apr 4, 2012 6:45am
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"Kinect Star Wars." Image: Amazon.com

A long time ago in an office conference room far, far away, someone thought up the idea of combining the world of “Star Wars” with Microsoft’s Kinect sensor technology.  Many moons later, “Kinect Star Wars” was born.  ”Star Wars” games have always been either hit or miss. Sometimes you get something amazing like “Jedi Knight,” while others give you a mess like “Yoda Stories.”

“Kinect Star Wars” falls somewhere in the middle. It can be fun at times, but ultimately it’s more geared toward kids than die-hard “Star Wars” fans.

The main story mode takes place between the events of Episode One and Episode Two. Players take control of one of several padawans, thrust into combat after an invading droid army attempts to seize control of the Wookie home world of Kashyyyk. From there you set out on missions against droids, aliens, bounty hunters, Sith lords and other notable scourges of the universe.  It’s not going to be the amazing companion story fans were hoping for, but non-fans will be entertained.

While you’re in training mode, it’s fun to swing a light saber and use your force powers to send random objects flying. Once the action starts, everything gets a little clunky. Wielding your light saber is at times a lesson in futility. After a while, you find yourself just swinging your arms wildly until the object you’re hitting is destroyed. Enemies who defend themselves offer a bit more of a challenge, but even then, a simple side step or jump can overcome their defenses. After a while it all gets just a tad repetitive. Anyone hoping to reenact the “Dual of Fates” will surely be disappointed.

Using force powers can be fun at first, but after a while, it gets a little repetitive as well, and the sensor can sometimes take an extra second or two to register.  Sticking out your non-light-saber hand enables the force power, causing the various objects and people you select to glow a distinctive blue. You can fling your foe this way and that, but it can get twitchy at times. Occasionally the Kinect sensor selects the wrong object to connect with. I did enjoy using force powers on my enemies far more then wielding a light saber, but I wish it all worked together a little more smoothly.

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Scene from "Kinect Star Wars." Amazon.com

In the story mode you also have the opportunity to take control of various vehicles. From speeders to the Millennium Falcon, you control everything by tilting your body and using hand gestures to aim. They’re not that hard to control, yet I still managed to hit a lot of trees. I didn’t mind because Yoda was there to yell at me.

If you’re like me — and I know you are — you’ve been praying for a dance game, set in the “Star Wars” universe. I am happy to say that our prayers have been answered. “Kinect Star Wars” offers a dance mode, and it’s surprisingly fun. The songs are mostly covers of famous pop ditties, rewritten with “Star Wars” lyrics.  Players can take control of Han Solo or any other of their favorite characters and bust a move, earning bonus points for striking a pose. The higher the ranking players get, the harder the levels become. It’s all rather silly seeing these notable characters dancing foolishly, but it works. I can admit I had more fun dancing to the tune of “Y.M.C.A” than I did battling it out in campaign mode.

Fans wanting to get in on some good old-fashioned pod racing are in luck. Players get to take control of a podracer and it’s pretty good.  The controls are simple; hold your arms out as if  riding in the racer, and simply pull your left arm to move left and right arm to move right. I found it works really well, but my arms got tired more quickly than I expected. Granted, I’m out of shape, but still. Younger people won’t have a problem, but for older fans, take breaks between races.

“Kinect Star Wars” is by no means a great game, but it can be fun. The campaign section has its moments, though some are repetitive. The controls can be sluggish and at times frustrating, but so far, it’s the closest anyone will come to stepping into a Jedi’s shoes.  The dance mode is very silly, but it’s also addictive. Watching Storm Troopers gyrate their hips might be traumatizing — but so was watching the new trilogy.

Hardcore “Star Wars” fans might not like the game, but younger kids most likely will love it. The one thing I wished had happened is that the game took place further along in the “Star Wars” saga. If it had, I would have gone into the cantina and made sure Greedo didn’t shoot first.

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