Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox 360 has long had a polarising effect on consumers.
Some dismissed the peripheral as a gimmicky answer to the Wii, whereas others see it as a remarkable device that can enhance video games exponentially if utilised correctly.
I fall in the latter category as I really believe that the Kinect has so much potential.
As you can imagine, I was indeed surprised and excited when Microsoft announced Star Wars Kinect, with Microsoft promising a truly hardcore Star Wars experience. Is this game the saviour of the Kinect or is the Kinect doomed to have subpar casual games ad nausea?
The first thing that you will notice about Star Wars Kinect is the wonderfully authentic presentation, with R2D2 and C3PO greeting you at the start-up menu. There are five playable modes available to play, but does this present value for money?
I sense a disturbance in the Force...
First up is Jedi Destiny – Dark Side Rising, which is your story mode. In it you play as a Padawan trying to stop the dark uprising taking place during the prequel trilogy timeline.
This mode consists of a variety of gameplay types such as lightsaber combat, on-rails space combat, speeder bike combat and a few others. The bulk of the gameplay, however, is the lightsaber combat used in conjunction with force powers.
These sections are fun at first, but then you realise that the Kinect motion controls aren't as precise as they should be. Your character will eventually start doing things you didn't intend to do or, even worse, not do anything at all. To make things worse, these sections appear often and get quite repetitive. Space combat and speeder-bike sections are a bit better, but not redeeming factors. Not a good start.
Next up we have Duels of Fate, a lightsaber duelling mode where you take on enemies from across the Star Wars Universe, including favourites like Count Dooku and Darth Vader.
Unfortunately, just like Jedi Destiny, the controls aren't up to scratch, taking the excitement out of this mode. As a side note, it helps if you have a stick or something similar in your hand to emulate a light saber, as playing without it is quite confusing. So far it's not looking great.
Rancor Rampage is what we have next and does sound very exciting indeed. In it you control a Rancor, a massive beast in the Star Wars universe. As a Rancor, you have to destroy several Star Wars locales, such as Tatooine, trying to cause the most destruction, as well as completing a few other objectives.
Controls here fare much better than the previous two modes, but alas, it gets boring pretty quickly as the gameplay doesn't really change as you progress. At this point, it doesn't look like this game is worth anybody's time or money at all. But wait - there is hope on the horizon.
A new hope?
Star Wars Kinect's saving grace is in the last two modes – Pod Racing and Galactic Dance Off.
In Pod Racing, you get to participate in what many think is the only worthwhile thing about Star Wars Episode One, the awesome pod racing (hence the name). The racing is a faithful re-enactment of the action found in the movie, with players controlling a cart strapped to two turbines.
At the start, you're a novice pod racer pilot forced to participate in a number of races. But as you win a few, you'll unlock better pods to use in future races. The great thing about his mode is that you have three difficulty settings, with the advanced setting giving you full control of the pod.
What makes this even better is the fact that the motion controls are spot on and it really brings the immersiveness, evoking memories of Star Wars Episode One: Racer on Playstation 2.
Lastly, we have Galactic Dance Off which, on paper at least, sounds like a terrible idea for a Star Wars game. Putting our favourite Star Wars characters in a Dance Central type game is surely going to rub die-hard Star Wars fans the wrong way. But you know what, it works.
Taking popular songs, giving them a Star Wars flavour and letting people dance to them is genius. Controls are almost as good as Dance Central's and the songs are quite catchy. Songs like Christina Aguilera's Genie in the Bottle becomes Princess Leia's Princess in a Battle and Jason Derulo's Ridin' Solo becomes I'm Han Solo. Like I said, genius indeed.
Star Wars Kinect is not a core game and doesn't do the Kinect any favours. However, if you happen to be a Star Wars fan who has kids, it's a worthy purchase based on the Pod Racing and Galactic Dance Off modes alone.
If you're a Star Wars fan who don't have kids, well... I'd say you should rather play Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (again... for the tenth time) or just watch your collector's edition VHS Star Wars movies instead. If you're like me however, you will buy this for the pod racing alone.
Score: 6 out of 10