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Star Wars Kinect
Star Wars Kinect

 

Star Wars Kinect

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Action/Adventure
 
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INTRODUCTION

Rejoice, for you can now wield lightsabers and the power of the force with nothing but subtle (and not so subtle) movements of your body. Star Wars Kinect immerses you in a mythical universe packed with jedis, padawans, wookies, battle droids, and a host of familiar faces straight from George Lucas’ popular franchise. If any of those names in the last sentence confused you, I suggest you immediately acquire the original Star Wars trilogy and watch it on DVD. Of course, you could just play Star Wars Kinect, but you may find yourself quickly frustrated by a host of issues including sub-par graphics and shoddy controls.

SOUND

The sounds of Star Wars Kinect are undoubtedly its strongest qualities. Both sound effects and music are inspired directly by the Star Wars movies, Skywalker Sound, and the musical genius of John Williams. Fans of the Star Wars franchise will recognize a plethora of songs and noises that are bound to stir up feelings of nostalgia. Sound fits the style of Star Wars Kinect quite well, picking up speed and intensifying at all the right moments. I suppose someone intimately familiar with the music and sound effects of Star Wars would prefer to hear them in the grandeur of an IMAX theater. However, they are more than adequate for the game and do not detract from gameplay.

VIDEO

I was a bit disappointed with the graphics of Star Wars Kinect. There are so many amazing opportunities encapsulated within the graphical realm of Star Wars, and I couldn’t help but feel as though Star Wars Kinect squandered every single one of them. Graphics as a whole seem dated and lacking. Characters look cartoony and unfinished. Environments, although varied, are somewhat drab and boring. On top of this, textures tend to rip or tear during gameplay, breaking the natural ebb and flow of the game. This isn’t to say that graphics in Star Wars Kinect drain the fun out of it. I just felt as though they hinted at a sense of untapped potential; they could have been so much more.

GAMEPLAY

The majority of gameplay centers on the single or co-op storyline. You play as a young padawan, honing your skills to one day become a jedi knight. Shortly after the first mission, your jedi master and mentor is captured by invading forces. Consequently, you embark on a mission to rescue your master and fellow padawans while also uncovering a devious plot by the sith to rid the universe of jedi, once and for all.

The storyline is simple enough and easy to follow. Its delivery, however, is rather terrible. Voice acting and writing is slow and uninteresting. Beloved characters, such as Yoda and Chewbacca, do make guest appearances, but they add only a marginal amount of flair to the game. Other characters, such as your fellow padawans and jedi master, aren’t really all that intriguing. The padawans in particular never say anything, so it’s nearly impossible to feel any sort of emotional connection to them.

Piloting your padawan through different levels is initially cool, but quickly loses interest as gameplay issues begin to pop up. Actions involving your lightsaber are limited. You experience almost the entire spectrum of moves available simply by swinging your hand from side to side. These moves will allow you to quickly cut your way through swaths of invading battle droids, but they lack the finesse of previous Star Wars installments, such as The Force Unleashed.

Using the force as a padawan is even worse. You can extend your hand to push enemies away or pick them up and throw them. However, most enemies are immune to the force’s influence and will simply shrug off your efforts. It’s also difficult to focus the force on one enemy in a crowd. Most attempts I made to do this were frustrated on account of the game’s tendency to focus the force on a random object.

Other moves available to your padawan include a jump, dodge, dash, kick, and block. Integrating these moves into combat does add variety, but it is difficult to perform them fluidly. Most of the time, I just resorted to dashing toward enemies and cutting them down with my lightsaber or standing back and blocking all their attacks.

Hands down the most annoying aspect of Star Wars Kinect is its choice to break up combat with automatic actions or cut scenes. After every battle, the game takes control and pilots your padawan to a new area. I didn’t mind this initially, but I eventually discovered that the game was only allowing me to physically play it around half the time. There are many things a game can do to ease players into combat, but forcing them to sit back and wait should never be one of them.

The many lightsaber/force battles are intermixed with pilot sections where your padawan controls a land vehicle or starship. These are generally fun and entertaining. You can use your body to steer, avoid obstacles, shoot, speed up, and slow down. These actions are much more responsive than combat, making them something I tended to enjoy much more. The speed at which these sections take place can make incoming obstacles difficult to see, but that is a minor complaint comparatively.

If combat and storyline aren’t your forte, you can take a break with Star Wars Kinect’s many other gameplay types. However, I would venture to say that these aren’t much better, if any. Other gameplay types include podracing, dueling, wreaking havoc with a carnivorous beast known as a rancor, and even dancing.

Of these, the podracing section is possibly the most fun to play. It incorporates all the actions from the aforementioned piloting section, making it both fast-paced and competitive. The dueling section is, conversely, kind of a wreck. You test your lightsaber skills against enemies progressively more and more difficult. However, the cycle of blocking, pushing, and slashing quickly becomes both tedious and boring.

The rancor section can be fun if you enjoy mindless destruction. Controlling the rancor is difficult to do, however, and boils down to little more than performing one hapless action after another. The dancing section can be entertaining to watch, but doesn’t really fit the feel of the rest of the game. Furthermore, I have no doubt that some diehard fans of Star Wars or pop/rock will find the replacement of popular lyrics with science fictions lyrics somewhat sacrilegious (e.g. replacing “Hollerback Girl” with “Hologram Girl”).


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