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'Kinect Star Wars': Preview - E3 2011

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Kinect Star Wars E3 2011

© Microsoft Games


Kinect Star Wars was one of the first games revealed for Kinect at E3 2010. After a year of silence, Lucasarts and Microsoft pull back the curtain, revealing one of the most anticipated Kinect titles of the year. We played with Microsoft's lightsaber simulator at E3 to see how motion control brings players closer to being a Jedi than ever before.

Who hasn't wanted to use the force at some point? It would certainly make everyday tasks much easier, and entertaining. While that may still be merely a dream, with Kinect Star Wars players can finally experience what it would be like to wield such power without leaving the comfort of their living rooms. The E3 demo may have had its share of ups and downs, but when it works, the experience is like nothing else on this world.

Kinect Star Wars E3 2011

© Microsoft Games

Kinect Star Wars E3 2011

© Microsoft Games


Kinect Star Wars screenshots: Lightsaber combat in action

In a galaxy far, far away

Developer Lucasarts is determined to make Kinect Star Wars the closest many of us will ever come to truly feeling like a Jedi. Though the customization features were not shown in the E3 demo, we were told that players will be able to create their own Jedi to take through the game's story. When asked where Kinect Star Wars fit into the series overall continuity, the developer on hand said the story will span across all six Star Wars films.

The demo level on display takes place roughly toward the end of Episode II, with the player fighting through the cloud city Bespin. As the level progressed, our Jedi sliced through battle droids, deactivated rolling droideka shields and bested two of General Grievous' elite guards. The demo ended with our Jedi entering the familiar chamber where Han Solo was encased in carbonite, where two cloaked Sith stood waiting.

Kinect Star Wars E3 2011

© Microsoft Games

Kinect Star Wars E3 2011

© Microsoft Games


Kinect Star Wars screenshots: Wider battles in the game

Use the force, Kinect

Using the force is easy and intuitive, controlling with the motions you would expect from the film series. Pushing with the force is as simple as pulling back your left hand and pushing forward. Reaching your left hand towards an enemy grabs them, allowing the player to lift them into the air or fling them in any direction. There is even a force kick, where kicking forward sends a force shockwave forward to send enemies flying. Players can also jump to have their on-screen Jedi leap behind enemies, and leaning the player's head forward sends the Jedi speeding forward in a force dash to close the gap between enemies.

Once we became accustomed to the controls it was second nature to dash toward a group of enemies, jump behind them and toss them like rag dolls with the force. If playing the game cooperatively, both players can combine their powers to defeat foes. For example, the elite guards are immune to direct force attacks, but if one player distracts a guard the other can freely attack from behind. With the variety of force powers and cooperative strategies, Kinect Star Wars is one of the deeper games in development for Kinect.


Kinect Star Wars E3 2011 Trailer

I've got a bad feeling about this...

While force abilities work rather well with Kinect, using a lightsaber does not offer the same fluid experience. The lightsaber is controlled with the right hand, but at this point in development there appears to be a slight delay between a player moving their arm and the action translated on screen. As a benefit, this means that wildly flailing one's arms is not effective, but this means that all lightsaber swings must be performed quite slowly to register with the game. Compared to the fast and fluid force powers, lightsaber combat felt like a tacked on addition rather than the star attraction.

At this point, it is unclear exactly how much control the player will have over their movement around each level. The game's camera automatically points the player toward the closest group of enemies, allowing the player to either use force powers from afar or dash close to the enemy to attack with the lightsaber. The only real method of movement is to use the force dash, since there is no way of controlling the Jedi to walk or move from side to side.

The developers said walking was rejected early in development because it simply wasn't very fun to walk in place to move through the level. Even so, a large number of players demoing Kinect Star Wars were seen attempting to walk in place or turn their bodies to point the game's camera in a new direction. However, perhaps it is a testament to how accurate motion tracking is for force abilities that players assume other natural actions would have similar in-game effects.

Kinect Star Wars will be available on Kinect on Xbox 360 from winter 2011.

More Kinect coverage from E3 2011:
> Fable: The Journey announced for Kinect
> New Kinect Sports, Dance Central revealed
> Mass Effect 3 to feature Kinect support
> Just Dance 3 for Kinect, Move, Wii
> Ravind Rabbids: Live & Kicking for Kinect

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