"The Force Is Not With You"
Kinect Star Wars hasn't had the easiest time promising potential fans that it was going to be an amazing product. With a poor showing at E3 and plenty of bad mouthing across the net, there were still a few of us willing to pick up invisible light sabers and swing away. The results? May the force be with you…
We'll begin with Kinect Star Wars' campaign mode, which will most likely be the route many gamers will choose when they begin playing. As a young padawain, you'll team up with a second player (if you choose to do so), and you'll be immersed into a typical Star Wars story that will induce yawns on hardcore fans, slightly entertain casual fans, and that will make those who don't care about Star Wars to begin with care even less. You'll take on swarms of droids and Trandoshan's (pretty much the entire time) while using your left hand to initiate the force and your right to swing a lightsaber. This is the meat of the campaign mode, with a few vehicle levels and one-on-one duels thrown in. The overall same strategy is basically used over and over again until you decide there are better things to do in your life than wave your hands in the air and make your neighbors wonder what exactly you're doing.
See, if you're hoping to be pulling off slick lightsaber maneuvers in your living room, you'll be sadly disappointed. The connection between your living room moves and the game itself is hardly anything but good, and most of the time you'll feel like you're just swatting flies out of the air. The few spaceship / vehicle segments tend to work a bit better, but still leave much to desire. Overall, the entire Kinect Star Wars experience is unsatisfying and expected.
There is the duels mode (which is essentially one-on-one lightsaber battles), and it is a bit more satisfying, though it can't save the game from being the clunky and obnoxious monster that it is. Podracing is perhaps the most disappointing, because the podracing controls are actually quite good, but then developer Terminal Reality has decided to throw all sorts of random garbage at you. Whether you are required to knock away other drivers with your hands or wipe your visor off, these and other tacky gimmicks pull you away from an intense racer that could have (and maybe should have) stood alone on its own as a game.
A rancor rampage mode puts you into the role of a rancor where you will be required to smash buildings and achieve mainly brainless goals in order to win. It's actually one of the more stimulating parts of Kinect Star Wars, but also the mode which gets the most tiring first. However, my six year old nephew seemed to like it, but he acts the same way when Kinect isn't out in front of him, so maybe he just likes acting like a six year old, stomping around and roaring like a hyperactive child.
There is one horrible, dirty, saving grace of Kinect Star Wars. You guessed it: the dancing mini-game. It's like the Star Wars Christmas Special regurgitated onto the floor and formed into a beast of its own devices (great metaphor, right?); the tackiness of old Star Wars pop-culture is thrown right into your face, whether you like it or not. Pop songs (with lyrics redone to have a sci-fi twist), Lobot as a DJ and Vader busting-a-move on the dance floor are all things which you can expect in this mode. It all works so horribly well and I feel like an anti-fan enjoying it so much. They might as well just have made this game instead… I mean, it's the only segment where Kinect actually seemed to feel at home: grooving to beats rather than dueling fates.
Despite everything, the Star Wars universe is all here for angry fanboys / girls. The voiceovers may be off, the graphics and design may not be the most stunning, but they all emit franchise love across all levels. It's not a terrible mess, and oddly, it's not a disappointment either, but if your hopes were high, then be prepared, because Kinect Star Wars might be as hard to love as it was to write this article without making a SW pun or quote.
GameDynamo's Score for Kinect Star Wars (X360)
Three things describe Rando: Good beer, good food, and video games. On occasion, Rando flies a zeppelin through time seeking power crystals.
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