These are not the droids you are looking for….
Since the dawn of video gaming, we have dreamed of the day when a lightsaber would become reality. Kinect Star Wars was poised to be the first major realisation of that dream. Does Lucasarts provide the Jedi experience we have all been waiting for?
Accessible…. when it works – If the magical Kinect gods are smiling on you, Kinect Star Wars is extremely accessible for gamers of all ages and skill levels. Lightsaber battles are somewhat fun, and deflecting laser blasts while rotating your lightsaber in a figure eight motion is truly awesome. The podracing and rancor modes are simply fun that provide many laughs and have controls that are easy to grasp and hard to master. When it comes to a game that everyone in the family can enjoy, then Kinect Star Wars is certainly a candidate.
Jedi Destiny has its moments – Acting as the story mode, Jedi Destiny has some moments that are really awesome. Slicing up a series of Trade Federation droids is quite satisfying, and the space combat moments are mesmerising. Unfortunately these are few and far between moments of pain and frustration.
Horrid voice acting – Unless you are under the age of 5, chances are you have seen and can identify with the Star Wars franchise. While we understand that when it comes to games based on movie franchises, more often than not the original actors do not provide the voices. However, at least most games seem to cast voice actors who are remotely close to the source material.
Unfortunately, Kinect Star Wars isn’t most games. The voice acting is beyond horrid, almost to the point where Star Wars fans will turn the game off in protest. C3-P0 sounds nothing like Anthony Daniels, Mace Windu and Obi-Wan Kenobi are horribly off the mark, and Yoda is laughably bad. It’s not just the voices that Kinect Star Wars got wrong, character likeness seems to be a challenge too. Obi-Wan and Mace Windu look nothing like their movie characters, which certainly detracts from this sub-par experience if you are a fan.
Terrible frame rates – I don’t normally mark games down for frame rate issues, but in the case of Kinect Star Wars it becomes a regular occurrence. It happens in the most arbitrary moments; there could be no action on the screen and for some unknown reason the frame rate stutters considerably. The graphics aren’t pushing any boundaries whatsoever, so there really is no excuse.
Inaccurate controls – Kinect is often hit and miss at times, but when it comes to Kinect Star Wars it very rarely hits the mark. During co-operative play the sensor often confused which player was performing actions, and during lightsaber duels it seemed to have trouble deflecting to my left yet the right side was fine. These issues were often sporadic and while some actions would work fine during some moments, in others they were unreadable. The Force grip and push controls are the worst culprit, during my play sessions with the game I was never able to get my Force powers to do what I wanted them to do, and my minor successes were always unintended.
Exploits the Star Wars franchise- I’m all for mini-games when they are done well, but when the developers have just thrown them in with no general meaning to a franchise, it is a little disheartening. Apparently the Cantina and Jabba’s palace was the inspiration behind the Dance mode, but when each move is given a tacky Star Wars themed name (such as dual blasters and Force push) and the songs are ridiculously contrived.
Kinect Star Wars had the ingredients to provide a true Jedi experience, but thanks to poor production, performance issues and a bastardisation of the Star Wars franchise, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth for fans. While the game may be aimed at children, even a five year old would find the game frustrating and utterly broken. Lucasarts were once at the forefront of gaming development, but by the looks of Kinect Star Wars, they should re-evaluate their need to release games at all.