Kinect Star Wars Review

By Jonathan Deesing - Posted Apr 05, 2012

While an unnecessary amount of focus has been given to the dance mode, Kinect Star Wars is a fairly solid party game that will please any Star Wars fan looking to dust off their Kinect.

The Pros
  • Light saber use is cool and instinctive
  • Rancor Rampage lets you be Godzilla for a day
  • Yes, the dancing is actually rather enjoyable
The Cons
  • Lacking the coolest force powers
  • Graphics look like a Wii game
  • Some gameplay modes get old pretty fast

Kinect Star Wars Review:

I was raised on Star Wars. The movies, the games, the expanded universe novels, you name it. And through all that time I never could quite understand why, when imbued with the powers of the Force that some turned to evil. That is until I played Kinect Star Wars. Within minutes of the Jedi campaign I was reveling in every light saber blow and every death I caused. Pushing and kicking hapless enemies into holes gave me a visceral pleasure I’d imagine some doctors would classify as “unhealthy” or “disturbing.”

No matter. Beyond allowing me to get in touch with my seriously depraved side, Kinect Star Wars is actually pretty good. The concept of a Star Wars game controlled entirely with your body was insanely exciting to me, but I was seriously doubtful that it could be done well, if at all. So I was pleasantly surprised—and semi-psychotically stimulated—when I found that Terminal Reality did a good job of making a Kinect game work well with Star Wars.



I was the chosen one!

Kinect Star Wars can best be described as a goodie bag party game, with five different game modes. There was really no question which mode I chose first. Jedi Destiny allows you to take the role of a Padawan after the events of Episode 1 and ends during the events of Episode 3. After a brief tutorial, you head to Kashyyyk to start slaughtering droids and Trandoshans with impunity.

The gameplay is surprisingly intuitive, if a bit tiring, and even complex light saber techniques are easy to pick up. To move forward, you simply step forward and your Padawan flies forward. Side stepping will result in a cool side flip. Jumping also takes your character to the next enemy, or jumps over the one you’re already engaged with. You can use force push and force grab to pick up enemies or objects. Oh, and you can kick people in the chest if you’re feeling particularly vicious. Unfortunately, to make the gameplay smooth and easier, the game automatically snaps to enemies, allowing you only to fight one of them at a time. When being shot from all angles, this can become particularly stressful. Regardless, the movement options combine for some sweet moments during the game.

Kinect Star Wars

After infiltrating an enemy ship, I was battling droids in a narrow hallway. Growing frustrated, I threw one through a nearby window, which broke, sucking out all of his friends. Needless to say, I squealed a little. My main gripe is that you are still a Padawan. This means you’re missing some serious skills in both the light saber and force powers department. Using voice commands to whip out some force lightning would have been a nice inclusion. The graphics are immediately noticeable as fairly abysmal, but after I beheaded my hundredth droid, I stopped noticing.

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Hit and a huge miss

Two of the other game modes are derived from parts of the campaign. During certain portions of the Jedi Destiny mode, your character jumps on whatever speeder, spaceship, or gun turret he needs to and races off to save the day. The Podracing mode is the extension of this, and an awesome way to mix up your experience. Every bit as intense as the Podracing in Episode 1, the game has you jumping over obstacles, dodging other racers and putting out fires in your engines. The game also has classic racing game features such as unlockable vehicles, tech, and tracks. (One aside: I actually did most of my Podracing on a kitchen chair I pulled into the living room for a more authentic feel. It worked really well.)

The most lacking game mode is Duels of Fate, which allows you to participate in duels with a number of opponents, culminating in a battle with Darth Vader himself. Unfortunately the duels are slow, boring, and fail to hold interest. Your character takes turns attacking and defending from annoyingly slow attacks from your opponent. For being a fifth of the game, it’s a massive waste of time and energy. The inclusion of duels in the campaign was obnoxious enough, but I doubt anyone will head over to a mode dedicated solely to a light saber battle more akin to a Civil War battle than a “Duel of Fate.”

Kinect Star Wars

Apologize to your downstairs neighbors right now

Rancor Rampage elicited the most enjoyment out of me and my roommate. The concept is simple: control a Rancor as he stomps through a variety of locales, destroying buildings and killing people. I felt like Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) stomping through a city of snowmen. You actually stomp up and down to walk. It was stupid fun. You can pick up people and throw them like a baseball or chow down on their fragile bodies to restore health. It’s beyond me why this hasn’t been a game before now. Imagine a third person version of Rampage World Tour.

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for. A close friend bemoaned it as an egregious mismanagement of the Star Wars IP: the Galactic Dance Off. I’m terribly sorry to disappoint, but this mode is well designed, well managed, and fun. While the Star Wars fan inside me did die a bit, he’s been so molested and abused by George Lucas through the years, it barely registered. Anyone who has played Just Dance will immediately recognize the interface and anyone else will pick the game up quickly. The only real change is the music, featuring titles like “I’m Han Solo” (a parody of Jason Derulo’s “I’m Riding Solo”) and “Princess in a Battle” (“Genie in a Bottle” by Christina Aguilera). Yes, it makes me a bad person for enjoying Han Solo and Boba Fett dancing. I know it does, okay?

Kinect Star Wars

A challenger appears

It’s no secret that most games made for the Kinect so far have plain sucked. Indeed, the games are so lacking, that I have advised many people to not bother buying a Kinect at all. However, I can say with confidence that if you own a Kinect, you should probably own Kinect Star Wars. Gathering a number of cool (and some forgettable) Kinect game modes and putting them in the Star Wars universe makes for a game that is worth checking out. Perhaps most exciting for me is the hope that with this game’s success, Lucas Arts will consider a full campaign Star Wars title utilizing the Kinect.

Sure, the graphics are lacking and my arms were incredibly tired after Podracing, but these in no way detract from how fun the game is. If you like Star Wars and are looking for a reason to dust off your lonely Kinect, you should buy this game. But be warned, your inner-Comic Book Guy will never shut up.