Kinect Star Wars Preview
I’ll lay it on the line, I never expected to find myself in the London Film Museum dancing to a Star Wars remake of ‘We No Speak No Americano’. No, you can’t make that stuff up. That’s exactly what I got the chance to do while checking out the upcoming Kinect Star Wars from Lucasarts and Terminal Reality this week.
I’m always a bit wary of pure Kinect titles, just like I was very wary of the Wii when it first came out. Many games will quite happily have you standing in the middle of your living room looking like an absolute fool, merely to tell you that you’re doing it wrong.
The Wii did actually have a few games that did motion control right. In fact, the further it went along the better games got at it, with additions like Wii Motion Plus to give an accurate reading of what your Wiimote is actually doing.
Kinect Star Wars, for me, is that turning point from games that make you look a bit stupid for not much reward to games actually being playable and engaging.
I (literally) jumped into the gameplay with the campaign mode, which takes place shortly after Episode One, and focuses around your character discovering an Empire conspiracy, which takes you over the entire galaxy. The combat was, first and foremost, the most important factor in this game, and it does shine. Using your right hand for Lightsaber swinging and left hand to charge and use force attacks, you can let off some pretty devastating combos, which make you feel rather powerful. The lightsaber is free roaming as well, in that you can swing it any which way you want, and it’s not stuck to a pre-determined path, which really gives the combat a free flow.
The air combat left a little to be desired, yet was quite engrossing at the same time. Taking to a turret within a spaceship, you’re left to fight off incoming waves of enemy ships, and to do so by using your fists as if they were wrapped around the guns controls, and directing them towards enemy ships. Once the cursor was over them, the ship would automatically fire until the enemies are either destroyed, or you move off of them. This area of the game was fun, however it felt incredibly lacking compared to some of the more involving areas of the game that had you making use of your entire body. However, at the same time, soaring through space and shooting blaster guns at enemies was pure gold.
While I didn’t get a good look at the campaign modes in full, one thing I was a bit worried about was seeing the dancing aspects in trailers, and wondering how on earth it would fit into the game. These mini games actually sit outside the main game, as added extras. Which definitely put my mind to rest.
The Star Wars Dance Off has you picking a modern day song with a Star Wars twist to it, and then dancing just like in the Dance Central or Just Dance franchises, by copying the moves on screen to the best of your ability. There’s nothing really unique about this area, and whilst it is good fun, it seems to have been added for a laugh. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I was left wondering if it was really needed.
One of two other side games alongside the campaign was Pod Racing, which lets you pilot one of the Pods from Episode One, and race it around the track. Using your hands to steer by pulling the left one back to turn left and vice versa, you’ll need to dodge obstacles on the track to avoid destroying your engines, and utilise boosts while swiping at enemy racers to keep them behind you. While it was fun, the racing mechanics were very basic, the game pretty much steering you around the track itself, with you making little contributions to avoid stalactites and structures within the more open areas.
One mode that completely took me by surprise was one which allowed you to control an escaped Rancor. For no reason other than for pure fun, you’ll be able to stomp around an area causing utter havoc and mayhem whilst striking at buildings, throwing drones and eating humans. You’ll be able to charge through…everything, and the aim is to rack up enough points to hit the leaderboards. You’ll have a few objectives, like throw a person a certain distance (I kept eating them by mistake) that will help your score out. The mode is purely for entertainment value, and serves its purpose very well.
The graphics throughout all of the game modes were lovely representations of the Star Wars world, with luscious backgrounds and surprisingly detailed character models. While the voice acting was bearable, the lip movements to the words were atrocious, sometimes the characters not even making the remotely correct mouth shapes to the words that were being said.
My main worry was being forced to dance and play mini games throughout the campaign which some games in the past have had you do, but seeing that these are actually outside of the main campaign, the game actually works very well, introducing all of Kinect’s abilities and putting them into an enjoyable bundle.
Whilst it probably isn’t the Kinect’s limit on getting players involved with their games, it is certainly far off the wiggle fest that we’ve seen with games before. Kinect Star Wars presents a challenging game, something you have to think about, and that’s where its strengths lie. Swinging your arm around won’t get you very far, and it’s exciting to look forward to the finished, polished version.