Kinect Star Wars Adds A Sense Of Misplaced Gravitas To Jedi Fights

I didn’t give Brooks Brown, Lucast Arts community manager, much time to dig into the Kinect-enabled Star Wars game before I began peppering him with questions.

“Is this the entire game?” I asked.

Turns out what we saw on stage, two guys controlling (or trying to control) jedi as they work their way through a factory’s worth of bots, isn’t all Kinect Star Wars has in it. It is what Brown called the “Jedi Mode” a mode that has “hours of gameplay in it.”

That particular mode will also support the ability to play through with a friend, who can join you at any time by literally joining you at any time. They just need to stand next to you in front of the Kinect camera.

That mode will also have plenty of other playable characters and other options, but it’s not the entire game, just what they are showing of it at E3 this year.

It sounds like it isn’t even the chief mode. This is when things got a bit squirrely. Brown couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me how many other modes there were, just that the game is an “assortment of modes.” He did lead me to believe that Jedi Mode wasn’t the majority of the game, but he also said that the game wasn’t really an assortment of mini games either.

After getting that sorted out I stood alongside Brown and tried playing the game. It didn’t seem to completely track what I was doing. At some moments I started to doubt which of the characters on the screen I was meant to be controlling.

Brown told me that Jedi, and the players that control them, are meant to move with a sort of gravitas, an air of seriousness that translates into slow, methodical movements. Coincidentally, that would also, I suspect, make it easier for Kinect to see what you’re doing and turn it into something resembling a light saber slash or force grab.

So, following orders, I slowed my movements down. Instead of whipping my arm across my body, I traced it across my body, as if drawing a line on a chalkboard rather than slicing through metal with a fantasy light blade. That worked, at least on some level.

The light saber movements in battle, and the force grabs actually weren’t that bad. They may have skipped some of the things I did or wanted to do with my light saber, but they got the idea across that by swinging my arms around I was killing stuff.

What didn’t work, though, were the movements. In particular the ability to essentially direct your camera. The game, Brown told me, “directs your attention” to specific enemies in a battle. That’s a fancy way of saying it essentially locks you on a target. You should be able to turn your shoulders and hips to get the camera to move to a different target, say the one over to your left, off camera. But I couldn’t seem to get that to work. The game held my lock-on so firmly that it began to feel like the worst in an on-the-rails shooter.

Moving forward, something you can only do by jumping or bounding, seemed to work, but it just moved me closer to that target already selected.

Kinect doesn’t seem able, or maybe it’s the game, to track me the way I want to be tracked to play a game like this. I don’t want Kinect Star Wars to teach me the proper way to swing a light saber, I want it to make me feel like I’ve already mastered one.

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