I had the opportunity to get my hands on the preview of Kinect Star Wars at E3 2011… ever since it was demonstrated last year, I was wondering how Jedi action would feel like on Kinect, and now, I have a partial answer. I say “partial” because the game is still a work in progress. So what does it feels like?

Mostly, Star Wars is very fun to try. At this point, it is possible to do a few Jedi moves: stop laser fire, attack with the light saber, move objects using the force and kick enemies. Once immersed in the Star Wars universe, it’s easy to get drawn into the game. First, I started by learning the basic moves: it’s fun, and fairly easy. After training a bit, I was ready for combat.Using “the force” to move objects is easy and very intuitive. I just had to move both hands forward to “grab” something using the force. It is then possible to move objects gently, or throw them away. It’s also possible to “push” enemies away with a quick back-to-front hand gesture.

Attacking using the light saber feels really good, but the striking motion of the character is limited by the number of pre-animated strike sequences. It felt like having 5 different motions or so, but I didn’t count. Many motion-based games (on Wii) are just like that, but this is Kinect… and it has the potential of being better. It would be great if the game character could mimic the player’s saber moves in a more realistic fashion. Metal Gear Solid Rising (Xbox 360) seems to have a much better range of motion, for instance.

Moving around is not very natural: most of the time, I used a quick forward motion by advancing my whole body. However, it’s not like walking around looking for Droids. In fact, the game experience is pretty much “on rails”, which means that you are automatically taken from one place to the next via a cinematic sequence. Other than attacks, it is possible to jump above the enemy to attack it from behind.

In the end, it’s a matter of expectations. I’m not sure how the final game is going to be, and my impression is that the Kinect Star Wars team is still working hard to improve on many elements that I have described above. That said, the nature of Kinect will probably keep it as a game “on rails”, with action sequences and storytelling in-between action scenes. Now, the goal is to make the fight sequences as fun as realistic as possible. I really wonder how it would be to play Kinect Star Wars for 30mn or so.

Hardcore Star War fans will probably like it, as the Star War universe is well reproduced (especially the audio). Admit it: you always wanted to be a Jedi and this is the closest as you’ll get for now.

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