It begins with space – about six by eight feet should cover it. This modest dimension of living area is all it takes to finally live out our fantasy: the first proper lightsabre game since we watched Star Wars in 1977. Except that’s not really true. For one we didn’t watch Star Wars until 1989 and secondly, Kinect Star Wars is a bit rubbish.
To say this experience is new to us would be a lie. We’ve practised this half a million times over the course of our life: fist gripped around the imaginary hilt of an intergalactic laser sword, spare hand outstretched hopelessly trying to make a inanimate breadbin just shift slightly closer. These gestures are the meat and potatoes of what make’s the game’s central story mode succeed – we’re ignoring the fact that the story plonks players into the lull of Episode III’s dire plot. Swiping at lumpish battle droids and thrusting a palm out to Force Push enemies into oblivion is intuitive and there’s a satisfying responsiveness to offensive and defensive manoeuvres – even if the on-screen representation isn’t completely mirrored.
It’s excused by the visuals that reward enough in the immediate to perpetuate the fantasy further, but quickly grows tiresome as the same handful of gestures is heavily recycled. It’s a problem compounded by the aggravating duel battles, a protracted standoff that undermines both established skill and natural instinct.
Spring out of the main campaign and you’re welcomed by androids R2D2 and C3PO, who usher players between different periods in the canon to pointlessly contextualise minigames. The best of this ragtag bunch would be the podracing – a suitably thrilling next-gen adaptation of the N64 racer. It’s a mode that could easily eclipse the main campaign if only it didn’t fuss-up the whole scenario with arbitrary gestures (swatting bugs off the screen, throwing Jedi training orbs), which detract hugely from the buzz of the only contribution to the new trilogy that didn’t feel absolutely contrived.
What’s left is the Rancor rampage mode – which levels the dusty streets of Tatooine as you manically flail and munch citizens with a surprising lack of fulfilment – and the much talked about dance mode, which takes the framework of Dance Central and populates it with dancing Stormtroopers, Han Solo and slave-girl Leia, jiving to pop songs given a Star Wars twist. It’s painful, horridly inaccurate and Holiday Special levels of sacrilegious, but (and whisper this) inexplicably fun.
Kinect Star Wars is a hodgepodge of ideas that, either through the Kinect’s limited functionality or slipshod execution, simply aren’t cohesive enough to deliver the Star Wars experience that fans demand. Our advice? Go outside and pick up a stick.