'Kinect Star Wars' will rouse the 10-year-old in you

palcala@herald-leader.comJuly 5, 2012 

Kinect Star Wars allows players to battle a droid with a lightsaber. Players use hand gestures and body movements to control the action, and it takes some practice.

PHOTO COURTESY GAMES PRESS — Photo courtesy Games Press

  • VIDEO GAME REVIEW

    'Kinect Star Wars'

    About: Wield a lightsaber, race and dance through the Star Wars universe using Microsoft's Kinect body-motion controlling system.

    Players: Single, multiplayer

    Pros: A variety of gameplay modes lets you immerse yourself as a Jedi-in-training.

    Cons: The graphics aren't detailed, and the controls are not as accurate as you would like.

    Availability and price: $49.99 on Xbox 360

    ESRB rating: T

    Manifesto's rating: 6.5/10

    Metacritic rating: 5.5/10

Even before the release of Kinect Star Wars, I had plenty of experience dueling with lightsabers.

By lightsaber, I mean a broomstick or sometimes just a plain old stick as my childhood buddies and I would battle one another pretending to be Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader. Even Han Solo swung a mean lightsaber in our games.

Sure, every now and then one of us would get plastic, officially licensed lightsabers as birthday or Christmas gifts. But those never lasted long in the hands of 10-year-old boys.

Fast-forward 30 years or so, and now there is the first video game that gets that inner Jedi of yours off the couch and moving around just like the heroes from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.

The Jedi Destiny campaign mode has you play as a Padawan, or Jedi-in-training, and you replay battle scenes pulled out of the Jedi Temple's library. With the Kinect sensor, you use hand gestures and body movements to wield a lightsaber against battle droids and to navigate speeder bikes through forests. By waving your arm forward, you can send a wave of Force energy, or a Force push, to knock down opponents.

The lightsaber duel mode is not very intuitive and takes some practice. You have to block your opponent's attacks while you build up your energy bar. You get to attack only when prompted as the bar runs down like a timer. You then repeat a few times.

The pod racing mode, though, is more fun than I expected. The controls — and by controls I mean my arms and torso — are not too accurate, but I did better then I usually do with racing games and a traditional controller.

There also is a rancor rampage mode in which you knock stuff over, and a dance mode that didn't interest me in the least.

Despite the plethora of modes, the game suffers on a number of fronts and doesn't live up to the expectations created from decades of imaginations. The graphics are not very detailed, and the controls are somewhat inaccurate. The campaign is about the length of an Xbox Live Arcade game.

The most frustrating part of the game was that the Kinect would fail to recognize me if I stepped out of its field of view and then back in. It would prompt me to a menu that required me to enter a pass code to continue my game. That might have something to do, though, with my Kinect sensor or how I have it set up. Regardless, it was a pain.

The greatest problem with this game, though, is that every Star Wars fan younger than 45 or so has had more fun pretending to be a Jedi with just his imagination.

All in all, it's fun and will get fans of any age jumping around and burning a few calories as they fight the bad guys.

Plus, there is a limited-edition Xbox 360 console for sale that is painted blue and white to resemble R2-D2 and makes the robot's sounds when turned on.

Who could put a price on that?

Microsoft could.

It's $400.

Pablo Alcalá: (859) 231-1601.

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