Video Game Review

Video Game Review: Use the force — of motion

‘Kinect Star Wars’ tracks movements to let you pilot speeders, swing lightsabers

jhoeger@thetribunenews.comApril 12, 2012 

  • ‘KINECT STAR WARS’

    Published by Lucas-Arts for Xbox 360

    $49.99

    Rated T for Teen (mild Language, mild suggestive themes, violence)

It’s not an epic adventure in itself, but “Kinect Star Wars” delivers an amusing set of activities for “Star Wars” fans.

The game requires a Kinect Sensor ($149.99), which plugs into the Xbox 360 and tracks the movements of your body (aside from the games it’s compatible with, it allows you to navigate the system’s menus with a combination of verbal commands and hand waves).

“Kinect Star Wars” divides its features into a handful of modes for one or two players.

The story mode, Jedi Destiny, puts you in the role of apprentice to a Jedi Master in the prequel trilogy days, beginning some time after the events of “The Phantom Menace.” In this mode you will play through levels set of various planets, swinging a lightsaber with the movements of one hand and wielding the powers of the Force with the other — picking up and throwing objects, for example.

The action will occasionally switch to a lightsaber duel, where your movements control parries and attacks, or vehicle sequences where you lean from side to side and hold your arms out as if grasping handlebars to control a speeder, for example. The Duels of Fate mode spins off the lightsaber duels of the story mode into their own heading, allowing you to choose your opponent.

If you’re partial to the vehicle sequences, the Podracing mode offers plenty more of them. You can either start a career as a new racer for Watto, or play single races with customized settings. To control the high-speed vehicles, you hold out your arms as in the speeder segments, but instead of leaning to steer you pull back with one arm or the other. Pulling both back at once brakes, and pulling back then pushing forward quickly activates a short-lived boost to your speed.

The Rancor Rampage mode is just what it sounds like — as one of the giant, slobbering monsters from “Return of the Jedi,” you’ll tear through a city such as Mos Eisley on Tatooine, throwing around Imperial Stormtroopers and droids, charging into buildings and generally making a big mess for points.

Finally, the Galactic Dance Off is the oddest mode of the bunch, featuring a selection of pop songs with “Star Wars”-themed lyrics (Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” becomes “Hologram Girl”) and dance routines to go with them—you earn points for successfully mimicking the dance moves. Trying to imitate Han Solo’s routine (with synchronized Imperial backup dancers) against the backdrop of Bespin’s hellish carbonite freezing facility is one of the most bizarre experiences I’ve ever had in a game.

Each mode offers moments of fun, but the common problem that underlies all of them is a lack of precision. It’s difficult to reliably block lightsaber strikes or steer around obstacles, even though the games are all pretty simple.

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