Roughly two years ago at E3, we finally got to see what Project Natal was all about; thus being the Kinect for Xbox 360. We saw what Your Shape Fitness Evolved, Dance Central and Kinect Sports had in store for us. We also got a little teaser for Kinect Star Wars, which had a lot of tongues wagging – especially mine. With a vague release date, and even originally set for October 2011 that got delayed just a little more, the wait finally ended on April 5, 2012. Kinect Star Wars is here and was well worth the wait. As far as expectations of ‘will this game give me a lightsabre and can I use the force in a Star Wars environment?’ – Absolutely!
The iconic “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….” does not appear when the game is booted. We see the following warm, fuzzy words; Microsoft Studios, LucasArts, Terminal Reality, Infernal Engine and Good Science. C3PO and R2-D2 then greet the player in the menu.
Rest assured, the iconic Star Wars introduction then appears, with the wonderful score, sending goosebumps up this Star Wars fans’ arm – oh yes, you’re about to step into the game, young Padawan.
For the purpose of this review, I played the tutorial and the campaign, Jedi Destiny. Set in Kashyyyk (where the Wookiees’ live and play) that comes under attack. After a fairly well informed tutorial on the general basics of gameplay, you then get a taste for combat, using the force and how to ride vehicles – all with Yoda by your side – YAY! I played as the character Fenella Druce who I can best describe as being Jedi Barbie; she’s blonde with pink appeal. I think the characters have a great diversity to choose from, even something for the lizard-head gamers.
- Jump in-Jump out Co-Op. No faffing about in the menus for players to sign in, etc. This also works in Multiplayer.
- Impressive animation for speech. Looks just like a cartoon, and no ‘sock puppet’ mouths (you will know how I feel about this from previous podcast episodes)
- Cinematic skipping – if you’re impatient with cinematics, holding your right arm out gives the option to skip – but I found this will not always work if the game is loading.
- Voice command works well in the menus to select where you want to go and what you want to use.
- When idle for a few moments, the game assumes you’re unsure of how to proceed, so an image will appear on the left of the screen, prompting your stance to progress.
- Kinect Star Wars is left/right arm friendly.
- Using a lightsabre and the force!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Some of the loading times were a bit of a wait. I always install games to my hard drive, and this didn’t seem to lessen the pain of waiting sometimes up to a minute for the next stage to load.
- Actually, I don’t have much to fault here.
How Does it Work:
To put it simply, the player stance is tracked by the Kinect in 3rd person view. Placing your right foot forward will move you forward. If you jump (not even too excessively) the player will jump. If you crouch, the player will crouch. Leaning left and right will move left and right. It’s pretty simple stuff. I even had Fenella doing ‘the snake’ at one point.
You have limited control of the camera, so by moving right will not move the camera. This is all scripted by the game. Unless there are enemies or objectives either side of you, the camera will take care of the default viewing for you. To be perfectly frank, I’m glad this happens. At times there is an awful lot going on when defending and attacking multiple enemies, so it is great that the game does this work for you.
The handling of vehicles is also very simple. Holding your arms out like you would on a motorcycle automatically moves you forward, then guiding your arms left and right will steer the vehicle. Pulling your arms back as though you are pulling the reins of an invisible horse becomes your brake. Weapon aiming is automatic, so long as you can line up behind the enemy’s vehicle.
I really loved seeing a group of enemies together because it more or less went as follows:
– Right foot forward: move up to the enemies
– Swinging right arm in a figure eight motion – lightsabre-ing my way through the battle, which can get an attack for melee range, and deflect enemy blasts in the distance.
– jumping and moving my right arm down at the same time – a cool spinning jump into the air, landing behind the enemy and getting a few extra whacks in.
My cats looked frightened, terrified, and confused; I probably looked like a lunatic.
A Jedi lunatic, no less…
…who probably won’t be able to move their arm, nor sitting down without a wince tomorrow.
To be fair, Kinect Star Wars isn’t too physically demanding, all things considered, but it is a physical game. After an hour of playing, I was sweating and red as a beetroot. It is worthwhile to keep in mind your fitness status and take necessary breaks, and have a bottle of water close by.
There are plenty of game modes, such as Rancor Rampage for those willing to give it a shot (or smash) to spend a day in the life of a Rancor, destroying whatever you can. If you like Dance Central, then Galactic Dance Off is a game mode you can enjoy and have a giggle along the way.
For a Star Wars game, this is great fun. For a Kinect game I’d have to say it is one of the best ones around for variety in body movement and game variety. It is a must for the fans of Star Wars, and fans of Kinect.
Thank you very much to PPR representing Microsoft for supplying Drop Bear Gaming with a review copy of Kinect Star Wars. The above images were supplied by the Kinect Star Wars press kit and also taken during gameplay at my home during the review.