With the exception of Ubisoft’s fantastic Child of Eden – which, as terrific as it is, will always be a decidedly niche proposition – there has never been a better or more entertaining Kinect game than the peripheral’s launch title Kinect Adventures. The fact that Kinect Star Wars apes the general structure and move-set of Kinect Adventures isn’t surprising; the fact that it’s the better game of the two most certainly is. After its baffling presence at E3 last year, where it debuted in playable form – a form that was buggy, unresponsive and essentially broken – Kinect Star Wars simply had to be the best Kinect game ever made in order to combat the vast swathes of furious cynics. And it is.
That said, the battle to gratify the (depressingly innumerable) number of Star Wars fans who refuse to accept the fact that Star Wars has always been aimed at children, is one that Kinect Star Wars was never going to win: this is a game for children. It’s bright, simple and riddled with instances of very daffy humour, but it also actually works; no mean feat for a Kinect game. The centrepiece is a narrative-led campaign entitled Jedi Destiny: Dark Side Rising, which is a serviceable piece of fluff that’s only really there to bridge the brief gaps between all the action sequences. It’s a little stop-start at first, but once the barriers broaden and you’re invited to do battle with more than five enemies at a time and experiment with the combat a bit, it’s hard not to become rather gripped by it.
Lightsaber combat ping-pongs between being functional and downright miraculous, and even though it’s initially very easy to resort to windmilling into every skirmish, later on you have to utilise your two dodge moves and the kick to outfox tougher assailants. Whilst wielding your saber you can also use your other hand to knock people over with a blast of the force, use it to fling stray debris at enemies, or pull airborne adversaries out of the sky. This isn’t quite as impressive as the lightsaber stuff – Kinect will often struggle to ascertain what you’re trying to grab if there’s more than one option available – but it definitely works far more often than it doesn’t. Sadly the one-on-one saber duels are the weakest part of the game; you and your opponent take it in turns to block and then attack each other, and while it’s perfectly responsive, it’s all a little bit monkey see, monkey do.
Everything else in the package is better than fine. The frequently (and intentionally) hilarious Galactic Dance-Off mode matches the quality of its primary inspiration; Rancor Rampage allows people to live out the brilliantly juvenile fantasy of causing horrendous havoc in Mos Eisley whilst eating people alive; and tearing through the forests of Endor on a speeder (or participating in a pod race) tasks you with using sidesteps and leans to manoeuvre rather than, say, the finicky wrist actions demanded by Microsoft’s deeply problematic Kinect Joyride: in a word, progress. Say what you like about Kinect Star Wars and Star Wars in general, but the makers of this game have palpably nailed their primary goal; kids are going to absolutely love it.
Kinect Star Wars is out now for the Xbox 360.
Watch the launch trailer for Kinect Star Wars below: