E3 2011: Kinect Star Wars

We grab our lightsabers and get plugged into the world of motion gaming with Kinect Star Wars, exclusively for the Xbox 360. Is the Force strong with us or is the game destined for the Dark side?

QUICKTAKE: Gamers have dreamed of the ability to swing a lightsaber in battle at the reveal of every motion controller on the market. Kinect Star Wars finally gives players that ability using Microsoft's motion peripheral. While it has a handful of great ideas, I had a difficult time combining those elements into one cohesive adventure in a galaxy far, far away. THE DEMO: If you watched Microsoft's press conference, you'll know exactly what I played. I played the Kinect Star Wars demo with another journalist, each of us wielding lightsabers and secreting midi-chlorians. For the purposes of the demo, the right hand controls the lightsaber (and no, you don't have to scream "Lightsaber turn on!" as was shown during the Microsoft conference) while the left hand controls Force abilities. That, a representative told me, is not the final control method for the game. Each section if set up like an arena, and clearing out enemies automatically moves the player to the next area. The demo ends when the player comes face-to-face with a pair of Sith Lords. DETAILS: There's one common thread throughout Microsoft's Kinect demos at E3: multi-player gaming. Specifically, two players being tracked simultaneously by one Kinect sensor. Based on my experience, it works extremely well. Kinect Star Wars replicates many of grand gestures you may remember from the films. For example, pulling your left hand back and thrusting forward Force pushes enemies out of the way. You can step forward to dash, and pick up objects and hurl them, as well. Swinging the saber, in particular, is fun.

Kinect Star Wars

These moves work well on their own. But using them to string together attacks is where things begin to unravel. Dashing forward and jumping near an enemy is supposed to make your onscreen character leap over your opponent, opening them up for open attack. Although I tried a handful of times, I simply couldn't get this maneuver to work. At one point in the demo, it took me many attempts to remove a destroyed ship blocking my path. The oddest part of the game is the movement. Kinect Star Wars is only partially on-rails, with the game automatically controlling movement between arenas. However, in areas with enemies, it's up to the player to move around the environment. If an enemy is in close proximity when swinging the saber, the character will move toward the enemy. If far away, you have to dash toward the enemy to go in for an attack. Getting the right spacing for these moves and fumbling around made me feel like the world's clumsiest Jedi. Instead of fulfilling the fantasies of Star Wars fans, the Kinect game currently falls short. (Just like the new trilogy of movies.) As it is now, this is a game unworthy of the Star Wars kid. Watch the Shacknews E3 2011 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. You can also subscribe to it with your favorite RSS reader.
From The Chatty
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    June 7, 2011 5:10 PM

    Xav de Matos posted a new article, E3 2011: Kinect Star Wars.

    We grab our lightsabers and get plugged into the world of motion gaming with Kinect Star Wars, exclusively for the Xbox 360. Is the Force strong with us or is the game destined for the Dark side?

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      June 7, 2011 5:16 PM

      The demo looked pretty sluggish when I watched it. Probably going to pass on this one.

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        June 7, 2011 5:41 PM

        It's a really cool concept, but I think they need to nail a few things down.

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      June 7, 2011 8:22 PM

      Is it a problem for Kinnect if you actually hold something in your hand to simulate a light saber? (All cock jokes aside).

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      June 7, 2011 8:56 PM

      Star Wars terminology when reviewing Star Wars games is even more cliched then sports stars saying "Come down to Bob's BBQ Pit. It's a home run!" when they do local tv commercials.

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        June 7, 2011 11:33 PM

        This comment tells me two things: You don't know what a review is, and you only read the summary.

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          June 8, 2011 8:03 AM

          Review/preview/first peek, whatever. Saying things like "Is the Force strong with us or is the game destined for the Dark Side?" is cliched.

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            June 8, 2011 8:15 AM

            Complain about everything you must. Serious business the internet is.

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            June 8, 2011 10:19 AM

            That's the strap line. That is not in the review/preview/first peek, whatever.

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      June 8, 2011 6:37 AM

      If they dont manage to remove the "on rails" somehow, this game is going to be a huge fail.
      And i dont think that be able to dash forward makes the game not be on rails anymore.

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      June 8, 2011 7:38 AM

      I just don't get it(well I kinda do). Why do they have to go "all out kinect"? Why not make a decent/great star wars/any game, and throw in some kinect action on the side. How about just using some force powers push/pull ect with the kinect, then switching off/saying bye bye to quick time events, and pit you one on one vs some big enemies/bosses via "all out kinect" saber/force duels. I can dream on I guess.

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        June 8, 2011 8:02 AM

        "All this stuff does sort of feel to me like we're getting back into sort of... this could be the new version of a CD-ROM, or 3D, or full-motion video, of just like, 'Every game's doing this bullshit for 2 or 3 years!... games are ruined forever!', and then, 'Oh, okay, actually, this is now just a thing that you can have in a game.'" -- Jake Rodkin, Idle Thumbs E30 (E3 2009)

        "If gaming is going through puberty, then motion controls are its first period." -- Yahtzee Croshaw, Zero Punctuation E3 2010 special

        Unfortunately, it seems you'll have to wait a few years for the novelty of Kinect to shake off. Kinect sold far too well in the non-gamer casual crowd to avoid companies jumping in on the hype bandwagon like the FMV days, or the early "2.5D engine" days. It's a lot worse when the platform holder is stoking the fire. It's far far worse when Microsoftian marketing enthusiasm is stoking the fire.

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      June 8, 2011 10:31 AM

      Lightsaber On!

      So much cringe during that conference...

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      June 8, 2011 3:19 PM

      I think movement, and anything NOT on rails is the big problem with anything 'motion-based'.

      Until they come up with some kind of tread mill, track pad for your feet, it's really tough to simulate movement (unless still using a thumb stick to move your feet).

      Even if you run on the spot, the ability to determine if you're intending to run forwards or backwards would be an obvious issue.

      If you want a motion game, it's pretty much GOT to be on rails, or the movement (as was even said in this review) will be painstakingly awkward.

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      June 9, 2011 5:45 AM

      this looks pretty damn cool, I'd buy into the novelty of it all. Now when are they going to start making Kinect 3D ?

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