Kinect Star Wars – This is not the awesome game you’re looking for

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So, Garth was meant to review this title, but after the first dance off, he looked ready to pull someone’s arms off (The man has standards!) -  so I decided to take over to avoid getting blood on the carpet.

Since your curiosity has brought you this far, read on to find out if the force is with Kinect Star Wars.

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I was a bit surprised by the fact that this game actually had a story-based campaign. You take on the role of a young Padawan embarking on a training mission sometime between Episodes 2 and 3. The Jedi have realised they need to bolster their ranks before it’s too late, so you and several other Padawans have come to Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeworld, for some training with your Master. You get to choose a character model, and under the direction of your Jedi Master (voiced by Jennifer Hale), you begin learning how to use your lightsaber.

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It wasn’t long into this tutorial that I realised that the game just wasn’t picking up my awesome lightsaber moves (having been a Star Wars fan most of my life, I do know some moves). I resorted to just waving my arms in the right general direction, and even that did not make my character do anything like what I was expecting.

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Having flailed my way through the lightsaber tutorial, a poorly-voiced Master Yoda appeared to teach me about my force powers. While the running around and jumping parts worked fine, using my force powers was as frustrating as the lightsaber debacle. Needless to say, I was not impressed. Once the tutorial is complete, invading forces attack Kashyyyk, leaving you to return to the other Jedi. Cue a speeder chase through the forest that would have been fine, except you have to hold your arms up in front of you. For the whole chase. My arms were killing me before long. There are numerous other story missions to take on, but you get the idea.

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The game features several mini-games in addition to the main story line. First up is Podracing, where you can work your way up from a lowly novice, to greatness, unlocking new tracks and pods as you go. The controls for this work rather well, and there are various levels of assistance available to steer you in the right direction. On the easiest difficulty with the most assistance, you don’t really have to do much except keep the throttle on. Unfortunately, this suffers from the same problem as the speeder bike chase: you have to hold your arms out in front of you. For the whole race.

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Next is the Rancor Rampage, which sees you taking control of a rancor beast (the huge monster Luke fights in Jabba’s pit) and stomping around a certain location, getting points for destroying and/or eating things in your path. This is quite a lot of fun, and better scores means levelling up, which means more options for destruction. Still, the Kinect controls are somewhat imperfect, with arm movements being a hit-and-miss affair as with the lightsaber combat.

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The dance off mini-game is where things get really strange. You can choose yourself a dancer (who then, I should point out, doesn’t actually do any dancing…) and a song, and compete with another character to get the highest score and unlock new songs and characters. There are quite a few songs included, which is good, and all of them are recognisable, though not performed by the original artist. Even better, the words of these songs have been rewritten to fit the Star Wars theme. For instance, ‘Genie in a Bottle’ becomes ‘Princess in a Battle.’ That’s all fine; it’s the part where you dance as cartoonified versions of your favourite characters that gets a bit weird. Having Han Solo and Lando Calrissian dance off in the carbonite chamber of Bespin? Too weird for me, thanks.

Finally, you can take part in lightsaber duels against a variety of different opponents. While this would be cool, it suffers from the same Kinect tracking problems as the campaign duels, making this just another frustrating mini-game.

All of this can be done in a drop-in, drop-out two-player mode. All your friend has to do is wander into Kinect range and raise their hand. Whether or not they’ll still be your friend after you subject them to this game is another story.

Scoring

Design and Presentation: 7/10

The graphical style is most reminiscent of the current Star Wars cartoon series, so everything is very cute. The traditional Star Wars theme music is also there. Unfortunately, even the lovely voice of Jennifer Hale can’t make up for some of the other voice actors.

Gameplay: 4/10

If I could sit down and play this game with a controller, it probably wouldn’t be half as bad. The Kinect controls are some of the worst I’ve seen, and a big let down, making even the most potentially fun minigames an ordeal.

Value: 6.5/10

There’s a surprising amount of gameplay included here, with plenty of things to unlock for the various minigames. If you enjoy the game, this will keep you busy for a while.

Overall: 5/10

Kinect Star Wars is an average Star Wars title, and a terrible Kinect title. A lot of potential has been wasted here, resulting in a frustrating experience.

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