For the length of its brief campaign, Kinect Star Wars provides the opportunity to see two entertainment juggernauts crashing painfully into each other. On one side, there’s George Lucas’s overextended science fiction saga. On the other, there’s Kinect, Microsoft’s increasingly notorious motion sensor. Can these troubled parties find some kind of synergy in a fast-paced action game? Hardly. The end result has enough trouble telling when you’re trying to jump.
Both sides can share the blame for what follows. Star Wars provides the game’s leaden dialogue and a dull narrative that awkwardly rebuilds classic set-pieces from the films around a cast of charmless nobodies. Kinect, meanwhile, ensures that the action always feels shaky and unconvincing. It also adds what’s presumably an interpretive lag to most of your battles. At times, rather than performing a gesture and seeing it mirrored onscreen seconds later, it would be easier to send your moves to some central operator via ham radio.
With Force powers mapped to one hand and a lightsaber in the other, the game should theoretically allow for some simple knockabout brawling. In truth, it’s undermined by weightless animations and all that gesture confusion. By the time you’re halfway through, most foes require a leap to get behind their defences. This is an action Kinect repeatedly fails to spot, and things only get worse when it pops up in platforming gauntlets, which help break up the fighting along with thrill-less bike chases and on-rails space battles.
Matters improve outside of the main campaign, with a handful of modes that let the developers have fun with the licence. Duelling is the weakest of the bunch, plucking the clockwork block-matching lightsaber battles out of the campaign, but at least letting you fight against the likes of Darth Vader. Rancor Rampage, meanwhile, makes the most of Kinect’s clumsiness in a smart city-smashing challenge that encourages you to stomp your way across the Star Wars universe.
The podracing mini-campaign is ambitious, seeing you steer, boost, bat away enemies and even wipe mist from your visor, but the star of the show is also the strangest inclusion: a galactic dance-off that sees you shuffling through a series of appropriately reworded classics. The new lyrics and themed move names are surprisingly witty, while the game’s perfectly pitched for a party audience – albeit one that doesn’t mind grinding for Jabba The Hutt.
It says a lot that a dancing game is the best thing on offer in this muddled, cynical package. For the most part, Kinect Star Wars feels ill-conceived: kids will be bored, and adults will be embarrassed.