E3 2011: Kinectile Dysfunction — Star Wars Kinect

Star Wars Kinect is a disaster. Jedi powers and motion controls are a great combination on paper, but when mashed together in a game that looks and plays like Sports Party: Jedi, the results are predictably dire.

For one thing, players have no control over the camera. The game isn’t strictly a rail shooter — you can duck forward or jump to get your character to move roughly where you want to go — but it still manages to make House of the Dead look like a dynamic gaming experience.

Your left hand controls your Force powers, your right, the lightsaber. Grasping a droid and flinging it away with the Force is generally satisfying, but the only real challenge in it lies in whether or not the game and the Kinect will be able to detect what the hell you’re trying to accomplish.

As an aside: the crappiness of the latter-day trilogy is really the gift that keeps on giving. Droid armies made terrible cinematic adversaries, but they’re somehow even more boring in games. For each chattering, beige droid face I see for the rest of my life, I resolve to carry a pebble to Marin County and toss it desultorily in the direction of Skywalker Ranch. George Lucas deserves to be slapped silly for a quantity of stupid decisions that would fill the lifetime quotas of other, lesser bunglers, but this question doesn’t get asked often enough: why would you take an enemy as awesome as bleeding Stormtroopers and make them the good guys? And then replace them with something that sucks?

Back to the matter at hand. If there’s anything worse than Lucas’ post-1989 decision-making, it’s the lightsaber combat in Star Wars Kinect. If the most iconic weapon in the history cinema had been secretly replaced during development by a motion-control-powered feather duster, or perhaps an exceptionally wet noodle, it would hardly have made a difference. You swing your right hand at the screen, and an enemy falls down. The relationship between those two occurrences is something we just have to accept on faith — like the Force, I suppose.

What’s really sad is that with the right amount of care, craft, and cleverness, Star Wars Kinect could have been a great game. Instead, we got a cynical, undercooked cash-grab. Good thing that never happens in any other situations in life.

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