Kinect Star Wars

Buzz Bumble

Furry Ewok
The NZ Herald newspaper printed this review in yesterday's issue (Thursday, 5 April, 2012) ...

The Force is strong with this one

Ten years ago, a Canadian schoolboy picked up a stick and swung it around like a lightsaber. Fair enough. Who hasn't done that?

Granted, you may have not filmed yourself, carelessly left the tape lying around at school, unexpectedly become a YouTube megastar, and gone to court because of the "harassment and derision" that allegedly resulted, but the Force has excited the imaginations of millions of people just like the "Star Wars Kid."

Now the camera is on us.

Kinect Star Wars is about as close as anyone's going to get to being a Jedi for some time yet - and thank heavens for that small mercy. It turns out that the life of an elite warrior in that long ago, far away galaxy was a physically taxing experience.

Entirely motion-controlled with Kinect, the chopping, leaping, swinging, and pushing experience might be a bit much for anyone who believed becoming a Jedi was as simple as writing it down on a census form and sitting down for an episode IV-VI (okay, maybe III-VI) movie marathon. But there's so much fun to be had in performing the lightsaber and Force actions of the story and duel modes that you'll be feeling fitter and fighting with better technique before you know it.

The duelling is simple enough, almost turn-based if you imagine it to be so, and you don't need Ray Park's athleticism to get the job done.

I filmed myself performing the moves (the footage is due to appear on YouTube: never) and I was not surprised to see myself looking like the Star Wars Kid, complete with menacing scowl, as another enemy lost its head to my blade. One thing I'm sure we both felt was the power in our hands.

The pod-racing segment does its very best to replicate the cool part from the otherwise lacklustre Episode I.

Likely to be favoured by younger players, and treated with caution by players with dodgy backs, pod-racing is an intergalactic Ben-Hur experience which encourages dirty tricks and speeds bordering on the reckless.

The Kinect controls are superb in their responsiveness, and mastery of the alien racers is assured to players who can handle the exertion.

It can be played sitting down, but a vertical player will enjoy better control in the turns.

Rancor Rampage, where you smash your way through cities, levelling buildings and devouring screaming bystanders, is actually less fun than the other options.

The controls lack the necessary precision and there's no real sense of size and power to justify the tantrum you'll appear to be having in your living room.

The surprise hit of the package is the Galactic Dance Off, an addictive dance battle simulator, with real pop hits reimagined for Lucasfilm fans ("I ain't no hologram, girrrrrl"). Impress Jabba the Hutt with your moves and you'll get to twirl with Princess Leia in her palace outfit. Not a bad reward, really.

Kinect Star Wars is an engaging journey through George Lucas' rich, vibrant universe, which is neatly detailed here with top-notch graphics and stunning audio, and it goes a long way towards confirming that the Canadian boy had it right in the first place. Swinging lightsabers is as fun and empowering as we'd imagined it to be.

We can all be "Star Wars kids" now, and proudly so.

Platform: Xbox 360 Kinect
Rating: PG
Stars: 4 / 5