Giant Bomb Review


Kinect Star Wars Review

  • X360

Kinect Star Wars isn't a good Kinect game or a good Star Wars game.

Hey, the gang's all here! Great!

I'm what you would call a lapsed Star Wars fan, someone who holds those three old movies in the highest possible regard but really hasn't cared one bit for anything with "Star Wars" slapped on it lately. In fact, my love of Star Wars starts and stops with that hallowed original trilogy, a handful of memorable games from the '90s, and one halfway decent series of books. I've had well over a decade now to accept the modern reality of Star Wars as a pandering, dramatically bankrupt cash grab, so there's no good reason I should find Kinect Star Wars especially disappointing. It's not like I expected much from it in the first place. Look at the name: it's just two disparate brands lazily shoved into a single logo that screams "THIS IS THE THING WITH THE LIGHTSABERS AND IT USES THAT EXPENSIVE CAMERA YOU BOUGHT."

Still, with the two halves of this game so clearly identified right upfront, you'd hope this might at least be a good Kinect game or a good Star Wars property, if not both. But it's neither. Some argue that the game isn't for adults, but just because it's clearly targeted at younger ages doesn't mean it can't also appeal to people of all ages if it's made well. And sure, most kids will gleefully waggle their hands in front of whatever crap you put in front of them, but that doesn't mean you should put crap in front of them. Kids deserve to have their intellects stimulated, not insulted. Kinect Star Wars fails to tell an engaging or original story in the Star Wars fiction, instead opting for the path of least resistance by cobbling together a clearinghouse of familiar characters, places, and events into a bland amalgam that resembles the movies in structure but doesn't even try to approach them (the good ones, at least) in emotional resonance.

There's been plenty of slack-jawed bafflement at the footage of the game's dancing mode that's been making the rounds. But in my mind Kinect Star Wars' chief offender is the story-based Jedi Destiny mode that casts you as a nameless padawan, slashing and Force-pushing your way through five hours of battle droids and Trandoshan lizardmen, because those seem to be the only bad guys worth fighting in the Star Wars universe. There's nothing remotely interesting about this mode. On the story side, you simply jump from one familiar prequel locale to the next, every few minutes meeting with Yoda or jumping between skiffs over a Sarlaac monster or teaming up with a rakish vagabond who sure dresses and acts a lot like Han Solo. Not far in you'll take control of your own ship, which is practically a dead ringer for the Millennium Falcon and is manned by a silver-skinned C3PO facsimile and a Wookiee pilot just like Chewb... wait, that is Chewbacca.

The Jedi duels aren't nearly as cool as they should be.

That ramshackle assembly of Star Wars cliches might be easier to tolerate if the gameplay were any good, but it merely recreates what would be the most simplistic of third-person action games if you were playing it with a controller. In addition to swinging your trusty saber you can Force push and lift stuff, and kick enemies when they're in your face. Since a lightsaber cuts down everything in its way, the game quickly rolls out a variety of enemies who can block your saber swings, but a quick hop will make your Jedi somersault over them so you can hit them in the back. Cue five hours of jumping over guys and hitting them in the back, then one of the least climactic final battles with a nameless Sith warrior, then an underwhelming awards ceremony that looks to be lifted shot-for-shot out of the end of A New Hope. The occasional Jedi dueling that punctuates this mode could have been interesting if you had direct control over your saber, but instead it's a block-by-numbers affair where your enemy attacks high, low, left, or right, and you have to respond a few times, then slash them a bit. Then repeat three or four times. Fighting with a lightsaber is practically what motion controls were made for, so it's especially disappointing that this mode turned out to be so rote and boring.

The podracing component is actually the closest thing in Kinect Star Wars to a traditional video game, mainly because it directly apes the format of that old arcade podracing game from years ago. Each of your outstretched hands controls one of the two pods, and it's genuinely impressive how quickly your hand movements correspond to the steering controls. Most Kinect controls seem plagued with at least a little latency, but the steering here feels almost one-to-one with your movements. Unfortunately, all the other controls--jumping your pod, repairing, using weapons--use those same two hands, and the game is bad about making you use a power-up and steer in that direction at the same time. The racing action is rudimentary to begin with and doesn't really benefit from motion controls anyway, once the novelty of the steering wears off, and the whole six-race story mode here only lasts about 90 minutes anyway.

Noooooo comment.

There's not actually much else to round out the Kinect Star Wars package. You can unlock Count Dooku and Darth Vader as opponents in a standalone duel mode, and there are quick play options for the story and podracing modes. The dancing part... is what it is, and you're either going to be disgusted at the sight of Princess Leia dancing to a Christina Aguilera song in Jabba's palace, or you'll be totally delighted at the absurdity of it all. Then there's the mode where you rampage around a populated environment as a Rancor, which is, somehow, the most appropriate piece of content in this whole package simply because it embraces the silliness of flailing your arms and stomping your feet and puts it to use by letting you pick up and eat people, and barging through and utterly obliterating the buildings around you. It's basically Rampage for Kinect, and that, in itself, is not a bad idea at all.

That's hardly enough to make Kinect Star Wars worth playing for anyone short of the most diehard Star Wars fan or the youngest player with the lowest standards. It doesn't matter who you claim Kinect Star Wars is for, it's a shoddy product on almost every level. There are a few glimmers of what could have been in here, but this is not the game that legitimizes Kinect as a game-playing device, nor does it do a single thing to restore any vibrancy or value to the Star Wars license. Fans of Star Wars, Kinect hopefuls, and little kids all deserve better.

Brad Shoemaker on Google+
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Edited by Sephirotic

eew. While I am sure my son would love this, I'm going to pass. I don't think I could avoid it if it were in the house.

Posted by Peanut

Still getting it for my nephew! (excuses)

Posted by Outrager

At least it makes some funny quick looks.

Posted by iAmJohn

It's like a million Brads cried out in anguish and were suddenly silenced.

Posted by mrfluke

yea kinda obvious that this would have been shit, would have been fucking mindblowing if this was amazing

and i still feel brad was too nice on the game

Posted by mrfluke

like this is a huge middlefinger to all the old school star wars fans, and just makes the series look disgraceful

Posted by anal_diarrhea

This was the hype showpiece for Natal? Weak.

Posted by JoeyRavn

I don't know what to say, so that's that.

Posted by metalsnakezero

I would give this a 1 star, just for the fact that they said this was made for kids. Kids deserve better and not something that is half ass.

Posted by Mechanized

15 year old Samuel L Jackson is creepy.

Posted by DougQuaid

Is that supposed to be Mace Windu in that screenshot or is Todd Bridges in this game?

Posted by NathHaw

@JoeyRavn: At first I kinda laughed, but then I got offended.

Posted by Napalm

Who's that girl on the right? I would so hit that.


Posted by weegieanawrench

Wow, that's quite the generous score, Brad.

Posted by Milkman

There is something seriously wrong with Mace Windu's head.

Posted by FoxMulder

That Han Solo dancing video almost made me consider hunting Lucas down and doing the world a favor!

Posted by BisonHero

I'm surprised Brad didn't give it 1 star, but then he did somewhat compliment the responsiveness of the pod racing, and seemed to think that the Rancor mode was decent.

Posted by Mystyr_E

anything Star Wars has been bad lately? what about Old Republic?

not as content-rich as WoW but it's still a well done MMO to me

Posted by Delta_Ass

Now I'm really wondering what it'll take to get a one star review.

Posted by mrcraggle

@JoeyRavn: Oh God, that was... erm yea. I feel like that alone makes this game a 1 star.

Posted by RedFive

At least we got a sweet-ass limited edition console and controller out of this pile existing.

Posted by ildon

@Mystyr_E said:

anything Star Wars has been bad lately? what about Old Republic?

not as content-rich as WoW but it's still a well done MMO to me

SW:ToR is a serviceable MMO, not a good one, and it only got that way by aping WoW as accurately as it did. The story stuff is cool, but it's just not enough. It's like putting a dab of icing on plain bread, rather than on a tasty cupcake. If anything, the story parts make me wish they had just made a single player KotOR 3, because then I would have a fun balance of combat and story instead of an hour or more of boring, generic grind quests between story beats.

Posted by Moncole

If I had the money I would buy this just so I can get the limited edition xbox

Posted by Brodehouse

That Han Solo song is pretty dope, though.

Posted by Sooty

This is not the 2 star game I am looking for.

Posted by iAmJohn

@Sooty said:

This is not the 2 star game I am looking for.

Move along.

Edited by KaneRobot

should have just released dance mode as an xbla title and scrapped the rest...think the reaction would have been a lot better aside from star wars nerds who take it too seriously.

Posted by Deathmachine117

Two stars seems very generous

Posted by Twinsun

LucasArts should just shutdown their gaming division at this point, all the talent has left it seems.

Posted by SupberUber

The "for the kids" card is still, sadly, an accepted apology for a so-so game. I'm glad you chose to bring that up.

Posted by Grixxel

I think you're being generous with the 2 stars, Brad. Ugh ... this game.

Posted by Hurricrane

That score does not fit the review. Reads like a 1 or 0 star

Posted by NoobSauceG7

Should be a 1 star based on how shitty it is

Posted by President_Barackbar
Posted by insane_shadowblade85

This game made Brad cry. Fuck you, Star Wars Kinect!

Posted by connerthekewlkid

@ildon: so are we talking what was critically acclaimed or good in your opinion?

Posted by poheroe

I love Kinect quick looks full of ..Ughs and sighs ...

Posted by RetroVirus

Lightsaber, off...sigh.

Posted by deerokus

@SupberUber: @SupberUber said:

The "for the kids" card is still, sadly, an accepted apology for a so-so game. I'm glad you chose to bring that up.

Agreed. When I was a kid I was playing Super Mario Bros. 3, Mario Kart, Tetris and stuff like that. I had some awful Master System games - and I hated them! Kids have critical faculties, too, and shouldn't be given crap which puts them off games forever. Same argument can be applied to books.

Posted by sagebirt

I'm always amazed when reviewers can still write about a game they absolutely despise.

Posted by Animasta

@JoeyRavn said:

I don't know what to say, so that's that.

this is still incredible

Posted by Shaunage

Consider me surprised the score is so high.

Posted by Faltru

Very generous score.

Posted by bybeach

@JoeyRavn said:

I don't know what to say, so that's that.

This whipped out the feelgood in me..

Seriously, somewhere between completely unaware self parody and the insipid but sincere message, i kind of liked an acidy sort of way. It made sense if one was on an anti nausea med and reflected that it was simply the reveal of the pinky fingernail of Cosmo.

Posted by BrockNRolla

@sagebirt said:

I'm always amazed when reviewers can still write about a game they absolutely despise.

I'm amazed that reviewers can still give 2 stars to a game they hate.

Posted by EgoCheck616

This is what happens when publishers only see dollar signs with licenses.

THQ should have been a warning.

Posted by CJduke

The dancing and lyric parodies are still hilarious in my opinion. Everything else looks meh, but hey what do you expect. And shame on you Brad, for not mentioning kotor as a piece of Star Wars that you hold in high regard.

Posted by Splodge

@Twinsun said:

LucasArts should just shutdown their gaming division at this point, all the talent has left it seems.

The talent leaves periodically every couple of years. It's a shame that they are sitting on this IP and squandering it to its full potential.

Posted by beard_of_zeus

Sounds like one's hard earned money could be better used elsewhere.

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