Kinect Star Wars E3 2011 Hands-On Preview -- Will You Find Our Lack of Faith Disturbing?By Dana Vinson - Posted Jun 23, 2011
Like peanut butter and jelly, Kinect and the idea of wielding a lightsaber seem to go hand-in-hand. Since the dawn of controller-less gaming, we've all been wondering, "When will there be a Star Wars Kinect game?" Well, friends, the day has come, with the creatively named Kinect Star Wars.
There's something about playing with a lightsaber that automatically excites a part of the human brain, even if you're not the biggest Star Wars fan in the world. I can't explain it. There's just something magical about having all that power, even if it's only virtually. So naturally, when I got to demo the game at E3 2011, my heart started pumping just a little bit faster as visions of Dana Vinson: Jedi Master danced in my head.
Unfortunately, my dreams of glory were almost immediately deflated when I began to play the demo, which was the same one they showed on stage at the Microsoft Press Conference. My partner and I were playing Split-screen co-op while we sliced and diced our way through groups of enemies. The entire demo was tightly scripted too, so we would encounter and defeat one group of enemies, see a cut-scene, move on to another group, rinse, and repeat.
The controls were pretty intuitive: your right hand controls the actions of your lightsaber, while your left hand acts as your powerful Force Push. You can also lunge forward with your body to dash, and jump to jump over enemies and attack them from behind.
However, what seems intuitive on paper soon turned into a flailing appendage festival in practice. Kinect Star Wars was surprisingly unresponsive. I'm not sure if it was both of us players trying to do too much, but the game didn't seem to read the Force Push or lunge very well. When the game refused to read the lunge, it left my character unable to move, which left me slashing my right hand around a lot at nothing. I beat the hell out of the air though. When I tried to push the ship off the edge of the walkway using the Force, it took a while for the game to pick up on what I was trying to do.
I can't believe I'm saying this, because I'm a huge fan of Kinect, but, in general, I think it might be detrimental to not have anything in your hand while you're playing a motion controlled Star Wars game. Part of the fantasy is to feel like a Jedi, and while moving stuff around with just your hands would be cool (if it worked), you don't really feel like you're in control of a lightsaber without the feeling of something in your hand. Swiping an empty hand at the air is only so satisfying.
Overall, the Kinect Star Wars demo didn't blow me away. The demo was very limited, so a lot may change between now and when the retail product hits the shelves. For now, I think most of the disappointment comes from the lack of responsiveness from the game. It seems sluggish and constrained, but hopefully, between now and release, it'll get a facelift and deliver the kind of Star Wars experience we have been looking for for so many years.