E3 2011: Kinect Star Wars hands on

This is going to be short and sweet, mainly because I’m tired and don’t really have much to say about Kinect Star Wars.  Well, maybe a little to say.  Essentially, Kinect Star Wars combines several things that I have issues with in terms of both Kinect and with motion control as a whole: I like to be able to control my characters.  I’m sure you do too, considering gaming is at its core about interaction and control.  So when I do the gestures to fly quickly across the room and cut an obnoxious droid down with my lightsaber, I want it to work.  If it doesn’t work, then I don’t feel like a Jedi, simple as that, and that’s where the problem with Kinect Star Wars rested.

Moves are fairly simple, consisting of Force powers exclusively controlled with the left hand, the lightsaber controlled with the right.  The demo began with me moving my spaceship to its designated parking space (about four feet from where it was in the same grass field), which was done by lifting both of my arms.  I’m not going to lie, it was a little satisfying.  Under the tutelage of Yoda, I then learned how to both Force Push and Lift my enemies, which was also a lot of fun.

…and then I had to use the lightsaber.  I think I speak for almost every Star Wars nerd out there when I say that the lightsaber might be the number one thing to try and get right with a motion controlled Star Wars title.  If it isn’t right, then don’t give me a lightsaber, simple as that.  Unfortunately, no one like me gets to make these calls, so instead I was stuck with an awkward stick that I had to imagine coming out of my right hand, if my right hand ignored almost everything my brain told it to do.  Simply put, the lightsaber just wasn’t cooperative.  It didn’t match my swings (so no 1:1 combat, but we knew that), it was laggy, and it just wasn’t fun.

Use the force, Eric.

Next came movement, which is largely controlled exclusively by the game.  I find that to be a problem, but I’ll pretend I’m a six year old who would rather be a Jedi.  Movement options consist of a dash forward, done by a step forward.  This gets awkward, because you have to keep resetting while you’re playing.  If you’re like Erika, you’ll likely find that it doesn’t even work for you.  I personally found a move more akin to a headbutt to work best, but I’m not sure I could play a game for an extended period constantly forcing my face forward.  The second move is a jump, but I could only seem to get it to work when the jump icon was on screen.  It supposedly works during combat, and I did accidentally trigger it while fighting the Destroyer Droids.  Finally, there is a dodge, but I found it to be almost worthless.  First, it tended to ignore me, often leaving my character in the middle of several laser blasts.  Second, it didn’t seem essential because my Jedi might as well have been fucking invincible for the amount of damage I took.

Finally, the game seemed to struggle with combining moves.  I attempted to dash and swing my lightsaber, but I found that this resulted in me standing in front of the enemy, my saber held clumsily across my chest.  I’m curious if the game expected me to reset to a default position between moves, rather than attempt to combine them.  It is hard to feel like a bad ass Jedi Knight when you can’t combine simple commands.  I also thought that it was difficult to determine if I was hitting an enemy with my lightsaber, so I just kept throwing people about with the Force.

God help you if you try to rush at him.

If Kinect Star Wars is a full, $50 title, there is a lot of work to be done.  If it will be a downloadable $15/20 title, then perhaps I might give it a second chance.  It is just hard to feel excited about such an underwhelming experience.  Even the person manning the booth didn’t seem thrilled with the title, going so far as to mention how they were disappointed that the game took place between Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith.  That’s right, it’s a prequel game.

The only hope is that we’ll be able to Force Push Jar-Jar to our heart’s content.

Kinect Star Wars is exclusive to XBox 360 and comes out this holiday season!