Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away . . . . .
When I was small there were a few toys I craved after, a wind-up-and-go Evil Kenivel, Simple Simon (on old fashioned Bop it-Twist it), Buckaroo, but most of all I really wanted a plastic battery operated Jedi Lightsaber.
Thirty years passed and although technically my Lightsabre was still invisible, that day finally arrived. After development stalls, revised release dates and less than favourable initial reactions on its original Expo debut, Star Wars Kinect is here.
Unsurprisingly, it was always going to be hard for it to live up to the hype, but the good news is that despite its imperfections (and there are quite a few), it’s probably still the best Kinect game so far.
The main adventure part of the game starts in the Wookie world of Kashyyk, this is where basic training takes place assisted by a very serious Yoda. After learning some of the ways of the force (huge jumps, moving and throwing objects, and wielding your Lightsabre), you Chewbacca and your fellow Padawan group come under attack and are straight into the action.
Ok, so let’s start of with the negatives.
While you can choose which character you want to play as, the gameplay is very much ‘on rails’. Complete one task and it’s on to the next with no options to explore or do things differently. Compared to something like Knights of the Old Republic where there is lots more freedom, you are herded from once scene to the next without any say or choice in the matter.
The other main problem with Star Wars is the controls, as with most other Kinect games the body tracking works up to a point, but there is a slight sense of detachment between you and your character on the screen. Instead of the swashbuckling Lightsabre duels I was expecting, there is a ‘defend for a bit, attack for a bit’ system that is quite limited, and after such a long development period, slightly disappointing.
Your character never speaks either, which when embarking on an adventure of this scale lessens the emotional involvement. It would have been nice to have felt a little more part of the action. It is also quite short and I was expecting a lot more missions along the way.
So what is good about it then?
Luckily quite a few things. The main adventure has a diverse enough range of tasks and goals to keep you interested for the main part, and despite the linear style, it keep moving forward fairly quickly. It is also an excellent workout, things rarely slow down and after 30 mins I was beginning to feel the pace. It’s the first game I’ve played where I have actually been pleased to see the cut scenes, just to have a 2 minute breather!
There are some mini games too, Rancour Rampage, where you play as a giant Rancour ‘beast’ (above), trashing towns, throwing people about and generally causing mayhem is great fun, and a good way to let off steam after a bad day at the office/school/farm/track. Pod Racing isn’t bad either. Duels of Fate puts you one on one against Dark Side characters including Darth Vader and Count Dooku, although this is slightly spoiled by the wooly attack/defence combat system.
Surprisingly the thing we played most was Galactic Dance Off, a slightly surreal Sci-Fi version of Dance Central, where you can perform dance routines as various characters (including Han Solo or a scantily clad Princess Lea) in Jabba The Hut’s cave, or on the Death Star. After all the shooting and explosions it comes as a nice piece of light relief.
If you have children under 14, they will love it. They won’t notice all the picky things like storyline and ‘kinecti-vity’ and they’ll have the energy to do it justice. If you don’t, there is just about enough good things to enjoy, and the game uses very aspect of the Kinect system if not with complete success, with plenty of enthusiasm.
Emo Phillips once said “I thought I bumped into my best friend from school the other day, but then I realised he would have been older too”
In other words Star Wars is really a kids movie, and the Star Wars Kinect game will be most popular with those people not weighed down with high expectations, fond memories, or more important things to do than saving the Universe.
Platform: Xbox 360 / Kinect
Developer: Terminal Reality/ LucasArts
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