Rapid Review: Kinect Star Wars
Rapid Review: The positives and negatives of a video game in 5 minutes or less.
Title: Kinect Star Wars
Format: Xbox 360
Developer: Terminal Reality, Good Science, Microsoft Studios
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
What is it? A Star Wars game that uses the Kinect, the Xbox 360’s motion sensing device, to turn gamers into Jedis. “Kinect Star Wars” features five different modes, all using the hands-free Kinect device. In Jedi Destiny players take on the role of a padawan fighting for the Republic. In Duels of Fate gamers can battle one-on-one against Star Wars characters. The Podracing mode allows gamers to unleash their inner Annie Skywalker, and in Rancor Rampage players become a rancor, destroying almost everything in sight. The final mode is Galactic Dance Off, the Star Wars version of “Dance Central.”
You’re my, density – Playing as a padawan in Jedi Destiny, the meat and potatoes of “Kinect Star Wars,” is a lot of fun. This mode gives gamers a chance to not just chop battle droids in half, but also lets players control vehicles and heavy weapons. There’s a lot of variety to the activities you do Jedi Destiny, and the frequent location changes keep things fresh.
Rampage Jackson – If you remember the old arcade game “Rampage,” chances are you’ll get a kick out of Rancor Rampage. In this mode, gamers control one of four different rancor monsters and wreak as much havoc as possible. Knock tie-fighters out of the sky, eat Jawas, smash buildings, throw Stormtroopers into the distance, and even fight AT-ST Walkers. It’s pure destructive fun.
Fast and Furious – While brief, the podracing career mode has a lot to offer. Gamers can make races as challenging or as easy as they want through the game’s well balanced settings. Players can also upgrade their pods through defensive and offensive power-ups (my personal favorite were they flamethrowers I had shooting out the side of my podracer). The controls in this mode work very well, but try not to race too many times in a row. If you do, you won’t be able to lift your shoulders up the following day.
I’m a freakin Jedi! – Barring a midi-chlorian infusion, this game is as close as anyone can get to being an actual Jedi right now.
Don’t shake your money maker – Galactic Dance Off is cute and has some humor to it.There are several remakes of popular songs given a Star Wars/Weird Al-style twist (“Genie in a Bottle” = “Princess in a Battle”) but this mode isn’t much more than a diversion.
Still a padawan – The movements in “Kinect Star Wars” are not as precise as a wannabe jedi is probably hoping for. Movements with the lightsaber aren’t that accurate, leading to moments of hack and slash gameplay instead of the graceful motions from the films.
Where’s the beef? – Aside from Jedi Destiny mode, “Kinect Star Wars” feels light on content. Galactic Dance Off only features 15 songs. In Duels of Fate you can go toe to toe with Count Dooku and Darth Vader but the mode only contains five characters total. Podracing and Rancor Rampage are a bit deeper (6 races, 4 worlds to trounce) but also feel brief.
The Verdict: As with most Star Wars titles, “Kinect Star Wars” was first met with a lot of excitement and then with a lot of trepidation. Its debut at E3 2010 turned heads but once the press spent some time with the game, enthusiasm waned. It was even pushed back from its original Christmas 2011 release date to give developers more time to improve it. The result? A pretty darn good game. Yes, it’s a title with some issues but as I was playing through it, I just didn’t care about them because when it came down to it, the gameplay works.
In “Kinect Star Wars” I got to fight alongside Chewbacca on Kashyyyk, throw speeder bikes into each other using the force, and chew on a Stormtrooper as a rancor. As a Star Wars fan for over 30 years, doing these things brought a smile to my face. Of course, I did all this while hopping, jumping, and swinging my arms in front of my TV, which is exactly what the Kinect was designed for. As long as you accept this game for what it is instead of what it isn't, and as long as you don’t mind looking like a goofball flopping around in front of your TV (like these guys, skip ahead to 9:32), you’ll have fun with this title. If you’re a Star Wars fan who has always felt that the force was with you, “Kinect Star Wars” won’t disappoint.
The Grade: B
Gazette Media Columnist Terry Terrones is a veteran video game journalist. He has written for numerous publications including GamePro, PC World, GameZone, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/terryterrones.