|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Terminal Reality|
|Release: April 3, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p||Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence|
by Paul Semel
Though it's been shown many times, the most impressive thing about Kinect Star Wars up to now is how cool the special R2-D2 Xbox looks when accompanied by the C-3PO controller. But at recent demos of the game both at Edelman, Microsoft's PR agency in Los Angeles, and at a press event Microsoft held at The Bentley Reserve in San Francisco, we got a chance to see how much this game has improved since it was first announced.
For the first time, we got a chance to see the main story mode, which is called "Jedi Destiny: Dark Side Rising." In it, you play a Padawan just after the events of the Episode One: The Phantom Menace. Using all of your Jedi training, you fight off numerous enemies with both your lightsaber and such Force powers as Force Push. Starting off on the Wookie home world of Kashyyyyk, you initially take out a bunch of droids—including some with Force-resistance staffs—before being attacked by a group of Trandoshans.
Figuring out why the Trandoshans are on Kashyyyyk, especially since the local Denny's is closed for renovations, will lead you on an epic, Star Wars-ian adventure that will include space battles, speeder bike chases, and, for boss fights, lightsaber battles against some familiar faces.
If being a Jedi-in-training during the prequels isn't your idea of fun, though, the game has some other modes you may enjoy more. For starters, if you want to get into a lightsaber battle, but would prefer it be with someone from the original trilogy—like, say, a certain tall, dark, and asthmatic Sith lord—there's a mode that's all saber fights, all the time.
For those who'd rather get funky than fight, the game also includes "Galactic Dance Off," a sort of miniature Dance Central that has you dancing to Star Wars-themed rewrites of a dozen pop hits, including Yolanda Be Cool & Dcup's "We Speak No Americano," which here is "We Speak No Huttanese," complete with Huttanese lyrics. You even, and we're not making this up, get to shake your rump as Princess Leia in the gold bikini while Jabba watches.
If you're more of a speed freak, Kinect Star Wars also has a podracing mode that lets you drive these jet-powered speeders in races held on Tatooine, Bespin, Coruscant, and Felucia. Though, as we saw in Menace, podracing isn't just about finishing first, it's about finishing at all, since your fellow racers will try to bump you off the road, local wildlife will try to jump into your engines (well, assuming you don't swat them away), and such malcontents as the Tusken Raiders and Imperial Stormtroopers will use you for mid-race target practice.
The thing is, while this mode is fun, playing it just made me wish there was a new standalone podracing game… with a regular controller.
The same cannot be said, though, for what is easily the most enjoyable part of Kinect Star Wars: "Rancor Rampage." Cast as one of these mighty beasts, you use your flailing arms and legs to smash buildings and vehicles, to pick up people and eat them, and to clap like you're the Hulk, which causes a shockwave that sends everyone flying. Besides letting you trash Mos Eisley spaceport, as well as cities on Naboo and Felucia, you also play as a couple different rancor, including Jabba's pet, Fluffy. It is, quite frankly, the Godzilla game we've all been waiting for (and, rather oddly, proof positive that Jar Jar Binks is a terrorist, though you'll have to play it to see why).
All of these other modes have their own loose stories, and while none last as long as "Jedi," they're all of decent length, with most taking about four to six hours to complete (as compared to the six to eight for "Jedi").
Admittedly, none of this makes Kinect Star Wars the serious lightsaber simulation we've been hoping for since we first saw the Kinect in action way back when. Or, to be more accurate, since we first got our hands on a Wiimote. But it certainly looks like it's going to be a lot more fun that it did when we first saw it. Especially if your life-long dreams don't stop with being a Jedi but include being a dancing fool, a podracer, and a big monster as well.
CCC Contributing Writer