Kinect Star Wars Review

Kinect Star Wars (Available exclusively on Xbox 360)
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-2
Genre: Action
Publisher: Microsoft/LucasArts
Developer: Terminal Reality
Release Date: April 3, 2012

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Kinect Star Wars T for teen because it features violence, mild suggestive themes and mild language, though the game was clearly designed for children.

Plays Like: Any Kinect adventure game, but with lightsabers.

Review Basis: Completed the campaign and messed with the mini-games.

I actually attended the L.A. event where Kinect was unveiled to the world. It was a long wait until Microsoft demonstrated their new hardware with a handful of games. About the only one the generated mild excitement was Kinect Star Wars. Every Star Wars fan has dreamed of wielding a lightsaber and using those trusty force powers. Kinect seemed to be the perfect match for the popular franchise. Is it?

The Great:

The license. The reason to buy this is the Star Wars name, and thankfully it’s used well. Most of the classic characters appear in one form or another. R2-D2 and C3P0 introduce you to the game from the Jedi Archives. How cool is that?  The campaign starts with the classic intro and music, which is as awesome as ever. It’s the universe you know and love, now controllable without a controller. ‘The controller, you are’ says the back of the box, perhaps inspired by a character in this very game.

The Good:

+ The Jedi master who is in charge of the Padawans. She reminded me of why I strangely loved The Phantom Menace as a very young child, because it portrayed us how Jedis could dominate in a fight. That’s what she does.

+ Co-op.  Kids will really enjoy it with their siblings or friends.

+ The pod-racing mini-game. I don’t think it’s better than the N64’s Episode 1 Racer, but it certainly entertains.

+ The environments. What you see isn’t breath-taking, but I especially enjoyed scenes like where you control a gunner trying to eliminate multiple hostiles. It puts you in the mood.

+ The dancing portions. They rip off Dance Central, and that makes them a blast to play! However…

The Bad:

– Dancing is morally wrong. It’s odd to be forced to dance as a slave (you must entertain Java the Hutt), but it becomes awkward and even degrading when you see Leia take her chains off to show how it’s done. This isn’t the right message for kids. I could be reading too much into it, but I expect this mode to take some press heat in the future.

– Wonky controls. They sometimes work like a charm, but most of the time not. On occasion, the game doesn’t react to your gestures at all. You might try to defend an incoming attack, only to be wiggling your arm like crazy and nothing happens onscreen. Thankfully there’s no penalty for death as you simply come right back up.

– Duels. They’re boring; you defend for a few turns, then attack. Rinse and repeat.

– Repetitive campaign. You fight wave after wave of enemies, only to be interrupted by a five-second clip, then fight another wave. The enemy designs lack variety too.

– Force powers underused. The most exciting potential for Kinect was mimicking the Force powers. However, you can never use them at will, or creatively. The game pre-determines the scenarios where you use them. Even worse; most enemies are immune to Force attacks! That was in the movies, right?

The Lowdown:

Kids will undoubtedly have fun with this one, but Kinect Star Wars is a huge letdown for the rest of us. Only the most hardcore fans need apply. There’s a lot of content on the disc, but most of it won’t entertain the older crowd. Approach with caution.

Final Score: 5.5/10

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