Star Wars Kinect Is On The Wrong System

By Dennis Scimeca in Previews/Impressions
Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 5:00 pm
You're supposed to feel like this Jedi. You don't.
One of the future Kinect titles shown during Microsoft's reveal of the peripheral was a Star Wars game. Observers noted it as the only suggestion of Kinect providing anything for "core" gamers

LucasArts is giving demos of Star Wars Kinect at E3 this year, and if you're a "core" gamer looking for a game to justify your purchase of the motion control system, I have bad news for you: this is not the game you're looking for. Move along.

Jedi Knights, in the Star Wars saga, are not brutes. They are about skill, precise movements and efficiency of effort. Kinect promotes none of these things. It's about big, wide movements that are easy for casual gamers to execute successfully. It's difficult to feel like a Jedi when you're jumping around and flailing your arms like an idiot.

The Star Wars Kinect demo was primarily an on-rails experience. Short, story transitions deposit the player in front of a group of Battle Droids, or Destroyer Droids, or other enemies. The player gets to dispatch these before the game goes on autopilot again, and moves the player to the next group of bad guys.

In theory, raise your left hand and draw it back to charge up Force Push, and execute by pushing forward. In theory, hold both hands out to Force Grab an object or enemy and shove them off to the site. In theory, Kinect cares about your theories. In practice, Kinect either didn't pick up on these motions, or I wasn't making those motions precisely the way the Kinect camera required me to, and the game therefore didn't carry out my Force commands.

Hold your right arm out to the side, and on the screen your lightsaber leaps off your belt, flies into your hand, and ignites. The Kinect response to my "lightsaber swings" was workable, but certainly nowhere close to 1:1, as the Kinect required wide, exaggerated movements to register how I wanted to swing the weapon. Star Wars Kinect needs a cheap lightsaber peripheral, because waving your hands around as if you were gripping an actual weapon feels ridiculous. One of the other journalists in the demo room with me pulled a miniature flashlight out of his messenger bag, so that he had something to hold on to.

If you think this -looks- silly, imagine how it feels to do this in front of an audience

Between Force powers that wouldn't go off and lightsaber swings you might expect from a drunken Jedi after a bachelor party, combat in Star Wars Kinect was a flailing, random mess. There was no sense of being a powerful Force-wielder. It felt like the game was keeping me moving forward no matter what I did, perhaps by way of trying to maintain the illusion that I was actually accomplishing something.

All of this criticism has to be taken with a grain of salt, because the demo provided at E3 is not a finished game. LucasArts still has time to fine-tune things, perhaps in response to the feedback the games press will be generously providing this week in heaping portions. What occurs is that if this game were on another platform, say the PlayStation 3, and took advantage of the precision of the PlayStation Move? Then LucasArts might have something here.

As it stands, unless there is massive improvement between the build shown at E3 and the game's release, Star Wars Kinect might be nothing more than an object lesson in why console exclusives can sometimes be a really bad thing for gamers. Keeping this game on the Xbox 360 could be real missed opportunity for LucasArts, as well. Perhaps it's time for them to take another look at that exclusivity contract.

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