By CHONG JINN XIUNGbytz@thestar.com.my
Take part in the Clone Wars in the first Kinect controlled Star Wars game.
IT IS every Star Wars fan's dream to wield a lightsabre and battle the dark side in a galaxy far, far away.
The Kinect: Star Wars game lets fans live that dream from their living rooms but it isn't quite what you would expect it to be.
The game begins with Star Wars favourites, C-3PO and R2-D2, being charged with maintaining the Jedi archives, presumably after the events of Return of the Jedi.
This museum gallery-like setting provides a good excuse for players to hop between different eras of the Star Wars history.
The game is made of many parts. Jedi Destiny forms the main bulk of the game, allowing you and another player to experience the game from the perspective of Jedi padawans during the Clone Wars.
The game lacks immersion as it is primarily driven forward in a linear fashion, moving the player from one area to the next through predetermined paths like an amusement park ride.
The campaign plays out like a collection of the greatest moments in the series and some are lifted right out of the movies - there's a speeder bike chase through a forest, a battle above the Sarlacc pit and a hectic space combat above planet Coruscant.
The game looks very much like the Clone Wars animated cartoons but there are graphical issues such as broken animations and voices not syncing properly.
The lightsabre is your primary weapon in the game and it's controlled by your right hand and Force powers like push and levitate are mapped to your left. You can also dash forward by leaning forward and leap over foes with a single jump.
You may be just a padawan but you are not lacking in powers - you'll be mowing down dozens of foes in several sweeping motions. Unfortunately, this makes the game almost feel like Dynasty Warriors at times.
Powerful as you may be, the Kinect sensor does not accurately translate your movement on-screen especially when attempting to use Force powers. Often times when we tried picking up objects to throw at enemies, the game will lock onto a nearby Force-immune enemy instead.
Tougher enemies normally require lots of side stepping and jumping to the their vulnerable side. They are tough to handle in large groups but on the bright side they will give you a good workout.
One of the most disappointing aspects of the game are the lightsabre duels. It involves nothing more than taking turns to block and attack.
It is a poor excuse for a lightsabre fight and is nowhere as interesting and engaging as using the Wii Motion Plus and PlayStation Move in sword fighting games.
The game tries to break the monotony by adding vehicular combat that puts you in control of speeder bikes, gun turrets and star fighters.
The segments are fun even though you have limited control.
Jedi Destiny isn't a long campaign and it can be finished in about three to four hours.
Once you have saved the galaxy there are a number mini-games to keep you entertained. Pod Racing is easily the best among the four mini-games and it even has a career mode. The races take place in many notable locales in the Star Wars universe like Mos Eisley, Felucia and Coruscant.
Each track is unique in design and the hazards it contains - like a Sarlacc pit on Tatooine. But sadly, you are just limited to six tracks.
The controls works surprisingly well and is very responsive. The downside though is that holding your hands up gets tiring quickly and could cost you the race.
The game successfully captures the sense of speed and thrill of barrelling down dangerous tracks.
You and the other racers can also deploy power ups to boost your chances of winning but the method isn't quite intuitive which makes it counter productive to use it.
Still, podracing is a fun distraction that has plenty of replay value.
The other modes are mostly forgettable but they can be played with a second player which make them a good party game.
Rancor Rampage lets you control a rancor to smash through a city. Instead of having fun you'll be wrestling with the controls which are difficult to grasp.
No doubt this mode will prove to be a hit with younger players who want nothing more than to smash things without having to worry about cleaning up the mess.
Duels of Fate is another weak mode that rehashes the pseudo lightsaber duels but this time you get to face off against an all-star cast of Sith lords like Count Dooku and Darth Vader.
Possibly the most recognisable mode apart from the campaign is Galactic Dance Off (GDO), a carbon copy of Dance Central that has you lighting up the dance floor with notable Star Wars characters.
The song selection mostly comprise of a dozen different parodies of popular songs. Examples include Princess in a Battle (Genie in a Bottle by Christina Aguilera), Hologram Girl (Hollaback Girl by Gwen Stefani) and Blasterproof (Bulletproof by La Roux).
New songs are unlocked when you score enough points in the form of stars.
Earn enough stars and you will be invited to a dance showdown against Darth Vader and the Emperor himself.
Also, the dance moves are not as challenging as those in Dance Central and the detection system is pretty forgiving.
Still, it is very surreal and strange to see Princess Leia happily dancing in her slave outfit and Han Solo grooving to techno beats in the carbonite chamber.
For all its wackiness, GDO is a half-hearted attempt at a dancing game that won't go down well with fans.
Kinect: Star Wars didn't quite live up to the hype. It's made of many components and not all of them are fun to play. The Jedi Destiny, for instance, is very linear and is plagued with control issues.
One of the most entertaining part of the game is the pod racing mode which is a thrill to play and is even more fun with a friend. The rest are essentially Star Wars themed mini-games that won't appeal to fans.
Overall, Kinect: Star Wars will not appeal to fans of the movies or serious gamers. Kids, however, may still find it a simple and fun game.
Pros: Exhilarating pod racing game with great controls; vehicle sections are fun; mini-games has two-player modes.
Cons: Buggy graphics; poorly executed lightsaber duels; most fans will hate GDO.
Kinect: Star Wars
(Terminal Reality/ LucasArts)
Kinect game for Xbox 360
Review copy courtesy of Gamer's Hideout Sdn Bhd, (03) 7725-2775 or www.facebook.com/GamersHideout