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Kinect Star Wars goes the extra mile with dancing, racing and destruction complementing the main Kinect controlled campaign. The force is strong in this one.
Kinect Star Wars will make many die-hard Star Wars fans run for the hills. However, to get all uppity about preserving the believability and grown-up nature of George Lucas' saga is missing the point.
The new Kinect game may well tread on a few toes as it picks up the story between the first two films, but it does so to engage a new audience with the Star Wars universe and fit that to a bodily controlled videogame.
It is similar to how The Clone Wars, spin off cartoon series and DVD films, extended the fiction and was eventually accepted as cannon by most fans. The main story enables you to join the fight by wielding a light saber and running and jumping your way through familiar Star Wars locations.
As is the trend with Kinect games the controls are ambitious, tasking the player with moving in a precise manner to achieve complex on-screen actions. When it works there is a great connection between the two, but it does need some considerable patience and time spent setting up the play-space before you start.
This is much more than simply waving your hands about at the appropriate moment, but also very different from the one-to-one motions seen in Wii-Sports Resort light saber-like sword fighting.
A genuine sense of theatre and drama in the room.
What Kinect achieves that other motion control systems are unable to touch is a genuine sense of theatre and drama in the room. Playing Kinect Star Wars, when it works, is an absorbing experience. It looks fantastic and like the original films, although is a new take on the world, is undeniably a Star Wars experience. The sights and sounds underline this at every turn and for those willing to put aside petty quibbles (both with then narrative and the controls) it's simply breathtaking.
On top of the main story segments of the game there are three non-too-shabby Kinect controlled mini-games. It's here that the investment and belief behind this (and other) Kinect games really shines through.
Rancor Rampage is a two player split-screen open world fighting game. A little like the old Rampage game from the arcades only in a fully 3D Star Wars world and controlled by moving your body. In a variety of time-limited modes you build up as many points as you can by wreaking destruction on the architecture and inhabitance of Rancor.
The Kinect Star Wars dancing minigame again has plenty of thought behind it. It creates a slightly simplified Dance Central challenge but each of the songs have been doctored to include references to the Star Wars world and are performed by characters from the film. Who could resist getting up to dance with Han Solo.
Finally there is a very solid split-screen pod racing game. This takes its lead from Joyride and the Pixar Rush Cars 2 driving to create a fast paced racing challenge that feels spot on. The sounds and sights of various pod-racing circuits as well as the other craft all contribute to making this another excellent part of the Kinect STar Wars offering.
Great value and a tonne of entertainment.
Any one of these elements could have been sold as a stand along game, or perhaps offered via XBLA. Together they provide much more entertainment and value than I had expected from Kinect Star Wars.
Whether you use it as an introduction to Star Wars for your children, or as an extension of your own grown up Star Wars journey, this offers great value and a tonne of entertainment.
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