There are always going to be high expectations from a Star Wars game, especially one which sees you actually wielding a famous lightsaber and using the Force to manipulate and move things in the world. Kinect Star Wars promised all the above and it does deliver, but in a very cartoon-like way, without any real depth to the universe in terms of story telling.
Unfortunately Kinect Star Wars is a jack of all trades and master of none. The Kinect works well in some of the game modes (there are five in total which we'll get to in a minute), but is disappointing in what should be the jewel in the game's crown, namely the battles.
So, five game modes, as we discussed. Dark Side Rising, Podracing, Rancor Rampage, Duesl of Fate and Galactic Dance Off. Dark Side Rising is the campaign in the game and you have a pretty hefty campaign mode here, approximately five hours of slashing, jumping and using the Force. As I mentioned before though, the lightsaber is the most disappointing of the lot here. Although it does work, it's really not responsive enough and there is something to be said for the accuracy of movement when trying to use your lightsaber in battle. Most frustrating is trying to defend yourself in battle and counter attacking. You're able to kick enemies, move through the environments by leaning forward, and jump by jumping. In the campaign mode you get to do a bit of everything, and it's a great little game for Star Wars fans, it's just a bit disappointing when it comes to the one thing that everyone wants to do; lightsaber fights. Equally, you'll find yourself just waiting around quite a lot while you go from cutscene to short gameplay section, to quicktime event to short gameplay. It's a bit boring at times.
Graphically it's engaging enough, and because it's using Kinect exclusively, you don't expect this to be another Force Unleashed. In fact it would be stupid to think that this is anywhere near as Star Wars as The Force Unleashed games because it's not. It's basically an excuse to get your avatar fannying around with a lightsaber or on a pod racer or in a dancing competition. But this is no bad thing. This isn't supposed to be a game for the hardcore, something which I think has been overlooked by most people. This is a family game which gives players of all ages and from all backgrounds to experience the Star Wars universe. That is it's point. The addition of Kinect is great, but it's no better or worse than the Wii offering of a couple of years ago. In fact it feels like an updated version of it with Kinect support. But that doesn't mean you can't push, pull and toss enemies as you're using your lightsaber to deflect enemy ray-gun bullets, albeit a little clunky. The problem lies when you go into the other game modes, where you can experience, in a little more depth, certain game mechanics from the campaign. It's here where the dual-based activities really fall down.
Having said that, the Rancor Rampage is great fun and you see yourself controlling a lamb as you bash through Star Wars locations made famous by the films, destroying and eating everything in your path. Even though this is prompted, it has an element of Team17's Worms game, and it's great fun. Equally I loved Podracing, the best mini-game of the lot in my opinion. It's easy, makes sense and you can really find your groove. It's here I think Kinect works best.
The Dance Off I wasn't too keen on. Not because it didn't work, but because it just felt like a Dance Central rip off, and I wasn't too keen on it. I'm sure there are people that love it, and the dancing can't be faulted, but it just feels as if it was an afterthought; one too many mini-games I think.
So, in conclusion, and for what it's worth, we think Kinect Star Wars is a great family game. It has a variety of different activities, and good (sometimes frustrating) campaign mode and loads of things to do within the George Lucas' universe. Whether all of those activities are good or not is a different matter, and whether you'll play all of them too is another matter, but the point is there is content there based in the worlds you'll recognise if you're a Star Wars fan.
Do not get this game if you think it's going to enhance the Star Wars story or universe in anyway, and don't get this if you're a hardcore gamer expecting to fight like a Jedi (or Sith) and experience unparalleled duals. You'll be disappointed.
Get this game if you want a distraction from all the other mini-games based games on Kinect. And don't expect too much. Remember, this wasn't made for the hardcore. This was made for everyone. And despite the biggest flaw being the lightsaber, this isn't such a bad game.