It’s taken a while but Kinect Star Wars is finally here and we can swing our lightsabers in the air like we just don't care. Well, almost...
2012: The year Microsoft brings Kinect to the hardcore gaming masses. We've already seen the Xbox 360 add-on integrated into Mass Effect 3 and Ghost Recon: Future Soldier, but our hopes were pinned on Kinect Star Wars proving that there was more to T3's 2011 Gadget of the Year than Kinect Sports and Dance Central.
Children of the 80's who queued up at their local Odeon to watch Skywalker and company, disappointed you will be with this mini-game collection homage set in a prequel Star Wars world that is individually and collectively galaxies away from the initial hype and our own high expectations.
Kinect Star Wars: Features
Once you've gone giddy over the sight of R2-D2 and C-3PO in the menu screen you've got your choice of five game modes but if you want the quickest route to waving your lightsaber then you'll need to shout, 'Xbox, Duels of Fate.' It's here where you'll be able to get instant saber action but you'll have to negotiate your way through a series of one-on-one battles before a face-off with Darth Vader.
Jedi Destiny: Dark Side is where you'll find the third person campaign action as you play a young padawan who first must learn the ways of the Jedi, which means mastering your saber, using the Force, moving, jumping and so on.
Once the basics are out of the way you'll be thrown into battle with hordes of droids and bounty hunters to tackle which is regularly broken up by cut scenes which push the story forward.
Podracing which is inspired by the Phantom Menace offers single races or a story-based Destiny mode. In terms of controls it’s very consistent with most Kinect driving games so it’s hands out holding an imaginary steering wheel with the added ability to punch a nearby opponent or wipe the windscreen when your view becomes obscured.
Feeling in the destructive mood? Well, Rancor Rampage is pretty much about your ability to control the Return of the Jedi monster and smash up everything in sight for points. To complete levels you'll need to achieve certain objectives like throwing debris a specific distance while eating droids to replenish your health.
Last and by no means least is Galactic Dance-Off which is essentially Star Wars does Dance Central. In locations ranging from Jabba's Palace and the Death Star you’ll have to bust a move to pop songs given a Star Wars re-working. So Hologram Girl is clearly inspired by Gwen Stefani’s Hollerback Girl and I’m Han Solo by Jason Derulo’s Riding Solo.
Kinect Star Wars: Gameplay
Well, where do we start? The campaign focused Jedi: Destiny quickly feels repetitive as you continually move from environments killing more droids and then doing the same again, while the cut scenes seem to steal some of the more interesting elements of the gameplay.
We were left disappointed by the gesture recognition particularly whilst swinging our virtual lightsaber around which often felt like we had limited control over the precise direction of attacks. It was also frustrating process constantly picking up the wrong objects when using the Force.
There’s also a co-op mode where another player can drop in and out of the action which is where the real fun lies, but again the action can be frenetic in split screen and feels like an action overload for the Kinect sensor to deal with.
Podracing does bring something different to the table in terms of Kinect-based driving games, and the controls worked well, however we did find it difficult to pull off some of the more complex moves during races The campaign mode helps to give the Episode 1-inspired action some context but it is by no means in-depth.
Duels of Fate could have been great, but with no room for freestyle combat you are essentially forced into tiresome turn-based combat that is enough to want you to give up trying to get to that fight with Darth Vader. Kids will no doubt enjoy Rancor rampaging, adults on the other hand might be an entirely different proposition.
The saddest thing about Kinect Star Wars is the game mode that we ridiculed most before playing it, turned out to be the most impressive.
Galactic Dance Off is as corny and novelty as you can get, but the body recognition worked extremely well and we actually quite enjoyed dancing like Han Solo. Again though, this is Dance Central with a Star Wars makeover, and quite how many Star Wars fans want to dance around the living room, we're not so sure.
Kinect Star Wars: Verdict
In a galaxy far, far away a great Star Wars Kinect lies, and hopefully it won’t look or play anything like this one. If Kinect Star Wars is about bringing the lucrative sci-fi franchise to a new, younger audience we’d question how long this hit and miss series of games would genuinely keep them entertained for.
Your jaw certainly won't drop at the graphics and the unresponsiveness we experienced in some game modes was a real issue. The two-player action does add some fun to proceedings while there is plenty of new content to unlock, but if we were to judge this against the standout Kinect games launched so far, this is no Child of Eden that’s for sure.
We would have preferred to have seen a solid single campaign mode that delivered a greater gesture recognition performance with a storyline to extend the game life beyond the few hours you’re likely to invest in it if you decide to part with your money.
If we had to compare this to one of George Lucas’ films we’d pick Attack of the Clones, a film we have long tried to erase from the memory and is a similar sentiment we felt after playing Kinect Star Wars.
Kinect Star Wars availability: Available now
Kinect Star Wars price: £29.99
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