Let’s be honest, this game had it hard from the start. Since George Lucas’s space opera first exploded into the public consciousness in 1977, the world has been holding its breath for the means with which to realize all those pent-up, adolescent Jedi fantasies. To date, Microsoft’s Kinect is perhaps the only motion sensor technology that ever really had a shot at crafting a genuine Force-wielding experience, so interest in Kinect Star Wars was always going to be intense.
Sadly, it’s also the latest attempt to fall short. Xbox have made impressive strides with their hands-free interface, that’s patently obvious, but the technology is still not at a stage where truly representative interaction is possible. So while Kinect Star Wars allows you to run, duck and jump through the Star Wars universe, wielding a lightsaber is nothing more than an exercise in mindless thrashing around and frustration. There’s a distinctly juvenile thrill the first time you fire up your saber and give it a few experimental twirls, but as soon as you enter into combat, the only correlation you’ll see between your actions and your character’s supposed swordsmanship is how fast you can flail like a novice.
It’s a crushing disappointment as your dreams of carefully choreographed battles devolve into an exercise in upper arm endurance. For a game that’s built on the novelty of a new level of immersion, it’s also excruciatingly repetitive. Lean forward to run up to your enemies, wave your arms as fast as you can until everybody falls down, and repeat. To make matters worse, your actions are all-to-often misinterpreted, and you’ll try to block, only to cartwheel, or try to jump, only to crouch down like a petulant toddler.
Your non-lightsaber arm is given over to using the Force, and the game promises the ability to reach out to grab enemies or objects, tossing them about with the power of your mind. But it’s no overstatement to say that the game has no clue what you want it to do. Not only is it irritating, but it’s exhausting too – dying for the umpteenth time and being drenched in sweat is too much to ask gamers to forgive.
In the interest of being fair, some of the game’s non-story modes are a little more entertaining. Rancor Rampage is fun, unadulterated destruction and requires little input, so it’s pretty responsive. The Podracing section does a good job of recreating the speed of The Phantom Menace’s race scenes, and will raise a few smiles. But there are also further hammering disappointments. To unlock decent opponents in the dueling section requires more dexterity than the game is capable of delivering, leaving you stuck fighting the same opponents again and again. And the dancing levels? Modern pop classics, overdubbed with Star Wars lyrics wouldn’t have seemed out of place in the infamous Holiday Special, and that’s putting it kindly.
Unless they absolutely knew that they had it nailed, Terminal Reality should have kept this game off the radar. It’s actually worse to be teased with the possibility of a functional, representative Star Wars game, only to have it snatched away. The irony now is that Microsoft, if they ever develop the tech to make this work, will have to beg forgiveness for this game before anybody gives them a second chance.