Kinect Star Wars Review: A Mildly Fun Missed Opportunity
When I attended E3 last year, I got to try out the newly announced Star Wars Kinect. It was practically a dream come true for me, getting to kinda sorta really have the force, and it made my Top Five Movie Related Video Games list. Sure some things were wonky, but I GOT TO USE THE FORCE, so I saw a lot of promise. Cut to less than a year later and the finished game hitting stores, fully fleshed out, and the question arises, well wait, IS getting to use the force enough to justify the existence of this game? I'm not so sure.
In Kinect Star Wars, C3PO and R2D2 are your guides of sorts, showing you around the Jedi Archives, categorizing files and other boring organizational things. In the main campaign, you learn about the Clone Wars by jumping in and seeing what it was like to be a padawan during that time (between Episodes one and two), under the tuteledge of a raven haired badass jedi master named Mavra Zane who has never been mentioned before in the history of Star Wars or anything, but is voiced perfectly by Jennifer Hale, so that's a plus?
The campaign seems endless, which can be a little annoying when your move catalog is so limited and cannot be expanded upon. Right hand wields your lightsaber, and most of the time you are doing nothing but swinging your right wrist in a sideways figure eight to block blaster fire, which doesn't feel great the day after when you have to do things like USE YOUR RIGHT HAND. Your left hand controls the force, but don't even try to use the force *while* blocking blaster guns, cause the Kinect will get sad and stop recognizing you altogether. This is silly because it makes no sense, logically. OF COURSE I would block blaster fire whilst using the force, why can't I do both, why?! Oh, limitations of Kinect, my patience, it is waning. You can also jump (in real life) in order to jump over enemies, step forward to dash forward for both movement and part of attacking droids, and kick to...well, kick. At the end of every major battle, you go into duel mode, which I still don't understand how to win, despite the fact that I obviously did come out on top every time. Occasionally you drove around in a speeder, which was unwieldy and not fun at all, or engaged in space battle, which was a little bit more tolerable.
While the moves themselves can be fun in doses, spending hours upon hours jumping and slashing without much variety to speak of is incredibly dull and exhausting all at once, two modifiers I try to avoid in my life at all costs. It becomes a lot more enjoyable if you spread the game out over time, especially if you can involve a Star Wars loving friend as well, although having two people confuses the Kinect horribly and both the force and my lightsaber worked just slightly less when someone else got involved. Luckily, the game goes a lot faster with another person, as the number of enemies doesn't seem to increase from one player to two players, so the somewhat faulty motion capture is less bothersome overall.
But fun in doses can really only get you so far when your universe sucks. Sorry. But this game would be a thousand times better if it SIMPLY TOOK PLACE DURING THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY or at least with original trilogy characters. I'm glad I got to see Chewbacca, but I don't understand why I'm fighting alongside some random invented character instead of Luke Skywalker. Have the prequels and Clone Wars TV show really made the original trilogy *that* irrelevant to Kinect owning/video game buying geeks?
But that's the rub. This game, this Kinect Star Wars game, this game that lets me use the force, this game was not made for me. This game was not made for those of us who grew up on the originals or grew up on the reissues. This game was made for children. Current children who know more about Clonetroopers than Stormtroopers and identify more with Anakin Skywalker than his son.
If there was any doubt, two of the games you can access other than the main campaign are podracing, which sucks, and DANCING, clearly meant to give the sisters of the little boys who insisted on the game, something to do, and justify the parents making the purchase. I can't truly think of any other reason why the dance section would be included in this game. Even C3PO is like "Error, error, I don't know why this is here, oh weird, oh well, let's dance and have fun!" It makes no sense.
Songs are changed to sort of be about Star Wars (Genie in a Bottle becomes Princess in a Battle), dance moves adopt Star Wars themed names (I'm particularly fond of the "double-blaster" and the "there is no try"), settings range from Jabba's headquarters to Coruscant, and the people who dance as range from Slave Leia to Lando to Han Solo to Boba Fett. No one should ever see Han Solo dancing. Han Solo dancing makes ZERO sense. It makes NONE OF THE SENSE. It's practically a deliberate affront to true Star Wars fans, so much so that it honestly makes me wonder if Lucasfilm henchmen are sitting in a dark room somewhere cackling, wondering how next to best piss us off.
Furthering this suspicion is that the only way to get to the Death Star is to get 75 stars (to put this into perspective, the hardest level before the Death Star only needs 30 stars to unlock), which is A LOT OF WATCHING HAN SOLO AND BOBA FETT DANCE, which I am simply not okay with. How many hours do you expect me to dedicate to dancing the same 25 moves over and over just for the pleasure of potentially watching Darth Vader dance? I don't *want* to see Darth Vader dance, I want you to put my favorite characters in any game *other* than dancing, you mean spirited game developers! AUGH. The worst part of it all? The dancing is really fun. Cause it's basically just Dance Central. Ugh. But not 75 stars worth of fun.
The podracing can be done campaign style, with something vaguely resembling a storyline about helping that gross flying thing named Watto from Phantom Menace get back in the podracing business, or as quickplay. Because the movement is so damn unruly, the game gives you the option of having assisted steering, which I highly recommend if you want to actually experience a modicum of enjoyment. The six courses are pretty simple. After getting 5th place the first time I played, I never got lower than 1st place on any course any time I played. But boy did that get tiresome fast. I say no to games that make me keep my arms stretched out in front of me for elongated periods of time. Blah.
The best way to have fun with Kinect Star Wars without hating yourself or cursing George Lucas is to play the Rancor Rampage game. Here, you are a Rancor and all you do is stomp around and knock shit down. It's great! Step on people, throw them, destroy buildings, and the list goes on. It's a use for the Kinect I actually haven't seen yet and I had a blast. The game gives you continuous challenges, like "Munch a droid" or "throw a civilian or droid 77 meters" or "destroy a building," so you fulfill the challenges while destroying things and building up your rage meeter, and when you hit certain point levels, you open up new locations, multipliers and more. I actually *wanted* to play this to completion, unlike every other part of this game.
The fourth mini game, Duel of the Fates, is a longer version of the worst part of the main campaign. Here you pick someone to duel against (a couple types of guards, Count Doku, Darth Vader, etc) and then you just duel. Which means block right, block left, win the clash, attach the enemy, over and over and over and over again. I REFUSE.
Overall, the game is utterly infuriating and mildly fun. If you have kids who love the new trilogy and the Clone Wars universe and have no attachment to the original films, a.) I feel really sorry for your whole family but b.) This is probably a good buy, at least on sale. For fans of the original who despise new Star Wars anything, like me, stay away. The Rancor Rampage is enough fun to maybe warrant spending 15-20 bucks, maybe, or to boot up the game at a friends house, but for the most part, this game is just yet another reminder that George Lucas had to go and ruin everything, tarnishing something that was once so perfect, so permanently.
Oh but hey, when you walk away from the game cause it's making you upset, C3PO and R2D2 then spend forever actively searching for you asking questions like "Commander, where did you go?" and shouting "Hello?!" and staring out at you, tapping on the screen and such. That's at least worth a couple bucks.
Platform(s): Xbox 360
Developer: Terminal Reality
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