When it comes to Star Wars and video games, everyone wants to be a Jedi. After all, a Jedi is the ultimate badass, and they've got wicked cool lightsabers to boot. Kinect Star Wars promises to let just about anyone play out a Jedi fantasy from the comfort of their own home.
Jedi Destiny: Dark Side Rising is the game's story mode, featuring a campaign that starts you out as a Jedi Padawan on Kashyyyk. Longtime Star Wars fans should recognize that as the heavily forested home planet of the Wookiees. Alas, Jedi Destiny does not occur during the original trilogy (Episodes IV - VI), but rather during the time of the prequels. This means you're fighting the droid soldiers of the Trade Federation rather than whooping it up on Stormtroopers. Setting the game during the prequel time frame is a bit of a disappointment, but it did give the developers more latitude in setting and characters.
Watching the Jedi Destiny demo, it was immediately obvious that although the Kinect mapping was impressively responsive, it wasn't necessarily one-to-one. Instead, the game appears to interpret basic commands and then display an "enhanced" version of the same move on-screen. Everything still flows naturally during gameplay, with the only real difference being that your in-game moves are more impressive than your real-life moves.
Lightsaber combat is mapped to the right hand by default, while Force powers (such as the Force push) are mapped to the left hand. We're told there is an option to flip this in-game in case you're a lefty. Swinging the lightsaber is as you would expect, with directed slashes being the order of the day. Actual character movement is handled by the game itself, though you can move back and forth within a limited area. You also have the ability to jump a short distance.
After the Jedi Destiny section wrapped, we took a look at the Podracing section, which looks a lot like the old arcade game. We were shown a demo level on Tatooine; speed was obviously the focus here, with plenty of motion blur adding to the effect. We didn't spend enough time with the course to map out the track in detail, but a LucasArts representative told us that each track would have a number of side paths.
Some of those side paths are shortcuts, while others will actually take you out of your way. We were also told that, despite the visual similarity, the Podracing tracks in Kinect Star Wars were all new. None of the tracks from the arcade game were recycled for the new game. We're told that there are multiple tracks in this section, with each on a different planet.
Next up was Rancor Rampage. In short, you play an escaped Rancor that is tearing apart a local city. For the demo, we were shown Jabba the Hutt's Rancor on a bender in Mos Eisley. With the Kinect doing full body-mapping here, the goal is pure destruction. You get to run around the place, tearing apart stuff and causing havoc. There are also secondary goals, such as eliminating a number of enemies of a certain type. The more damage you cause, the more powerful the security forces that are sent to stop you. Much like the Podracing part of Kinect Star Wars, Rancor Rampage will also feature multiple locations to explore.
Also available in the game are two additional modes that were described, but not shown live. Galactic Dance Off is a very Dance Central-esque dancing game with Star Wars characters. In a pre-recorded video segment, the UI of this portion was nearly identical to Dance Central, so we wouldn't be surprised if it was the same engine powering both games. The song playing during the video was "Y.M.C.A.," with a few lyrics changed to make it Star Wars themed. Cringe if you like, but Dance Central has been one of the Kinect's biggest hits, so it's not totally surprising to see it here.
The final game mode is Duels of Fate. As mentioned earlier, the story portion of Kinect Star Wars is set during the prequel trilogy, but the developers knew that there were certain battles that every Star Wars fan would want to play. After all, who doesn't expect to face off against Darth Vader? That's where Duels of Fate comes in. Here, the time line doesn't matter as each battle is a one-off against an iconic Star Wars opponent. Think of it as the fantasy league for Jedi-in-training.
There's no denying that Kinect Star Wars has been designed to appeal to casual players over hardcore gamers, but that accessibility simply means that more Star Wars fans are going to be able to enjoy the experience. Jump-in/jump-out co-op also helps ensure the game will be family friendly. You'll be able to feel the Force with this one in early April.
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