18th Apr 2012
The Kinect showed a lot of potential with its brand of controller-free motion gaming. To everyone's disappointment though, there were few games that could do any justice to it. While the Kinect may be plagued with its own share of issues, it's interesting to see how developers have been dishing out titles that let you use your whole body as a controller. Let's take a look at the latest Kinect titles from the Star Wars universe and Disney Pixar Studios to see if these big names can nail the motion gaming experience.
Kinect Star Wars (X360)
Developer: Terminal Reality
Genre: Action \ Third-Person
Price: Rs 2400 (Game4u.com, Flipkart.com)
The legacy of the Star Wars franchise has echoes across different entertainment media. With the Kinect version, LucasArts intends to transform you into a true-blue Jedi. Before you get all excited, here's a word of caution: If you are over the age of 12, there isn't much excitement in store here.
Kinect Star Wars chronologically spans from Episode I: The Phantom Menace to the end of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. The narrative is simple and add to the canon in any way. You begin as a Padawan (a trainee Jedi) and learn new skills, dodge enemies, drive exotic vehicles, and fight a few battles among other things.
Needs More Force
After a short training session, you are pushed to the frontlines with a friend \ bot Jedi led by a Master Jedi. Unfortunately, the battlefield is where all your lightsabre-wielding dreams are crushed by the game's ineptitude. There is a considerable lag between your gestures and their execution on screen. This mars the experience from the word go. Moreover, the lightsabre's reach is quite restricted, thus forcing you to constantly slink closer to your enemies.
When not wielding with the lightsabre, you get to jump, dodge, shoot, fly aircraft, and unleash Force (telekinesis) attacks as you move from one planet to another. Nailing the controls is a constant and unnecessary struggle owing to the paucity of time in the gesture-based sequences. This is ironic when you consider the fact that all this seems to be meant for a younger age group. Neither does the story take a compelling twist, nor do fights ever become intense enough to capture the essence of being a true Jedi.
Combat isn't the game's strongest point, as there are issues apart from the glaring control lag. Most of your opponents in the initial stages can be killed merely with a single blow. Yet, annoyingly, some foes in the latter parts shrug off the most powerful of your Force attacks, making you look more like a mime than a Jedi. It's only later that you realise how this too can be blamed on the way the Kinect tracks and translates your movements onscreen. Even in situations where the sensor may actually track your movements appropriately, there is a failure in its onscreen rendition. This can get frustrating real quick.
Jabba Can't Dance Saala!
In addition to the campaign, a few modes let you glimpse the Star Wars universe in a different light. The Duels of Fate mode enables you to hop into one-on-one fights, but it's ultimately a rather tiresome experience. On the other hand, the Podracing mode is quite fun.
Kinect Star Wars has its share of song and dance in the form of Galactic Dance Off. This section blends in silly choreography with parodies of popular songs. However, there's nothing that makes it as enjoyable as Dance Central. As I tried to earn some points while grooving to lousy steps, it was confusion, and not disappointment, that overwhelmed me. The very absurdity of lightsabre-toting Jedi grooving to Billboard Top 100 rejects didn't amuse me much.
The Force Is Weak In This One
By now it must be clear that the overall look and feel of the game will only appeal to a younger audience. The colours are bright, but the details are lacking. The problem is not how it appears, but rather your seriousness towards the Star Wars universe is what will influence your opinion regarding the presentation. In all fairness tho, some levels are well-designed with sharp colours and smooth transitions.
Despite the overwhelming temptation of playing a Jedi, the gameplay fails to offer a truly Star Wars-like experience. It's simply childish, sluggish, and confusing. Control issues stand out prominently while the narrative is lacking in every way. With the exception of podracing, this game doesn't offer much excitement.
Gameplay And Design: 2/5
Overall Rating: 2.5
All of us secretly dream of The Incredibles' superpowers or sneaking a ride in flying house a la Up. Well, if you own an X360 and a Kinect, you can get one step closer to your dreams right in the comfort of your living room. All you need is Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure. If you overlook details such as gameplay or storyline for a moment, the sheer concept of being able to do all that is enough to get the most jaded of gamers excited.
Reliving The Pixar Experience
Weaving together The Incredibles, Up, Ratatouille, Toy Story and Cars themed arenas, this game transports you in the Pixar Park, which acts as a central hub for your adventures. Unlike Disneyland: Kinect Adventures, this game recreates movie sets from Pixar's famous offerings. In this game, you can choose your path and move across multiple story zones.
Each arena allows you to partner with popular characters such as Buzz Lightyear, Lightning McQueen, and others. While the Kinect sensor creates your avatar by scanning your body, you can step into the shoes of these characters as well by unlocking them. It is easy to move in the title by jogging at the same place, or simply performing hand movements to suggest the same. If you wish to go right or left, simply turn your shoulders in the same direction. However, it takes some time to nail the controls as the Kinect doesn't always track movements accurately.
Most of the levels have been designed for platforming. You jump, slide, and run from a level to another in each of the stories, except in the Cars. The latter gives you an opportunity to drive as you collect coins for the gold medal.
A One-Trick Pony
As opposed to Kinect Star Wars, this title skilfully makes the most out of the Kinect controller. But it still lacks satisfying gameplay. A major part of the game is repetitive and the initial excitement wears out soon. What sticks out, however, is the visual presentation and voiceovers. The latter is interesting, especially because some original artists have reprised their parts in the game.
On the whole, Kinect Rush: A Disney Pixar Adventure works in parts, but it cannot turn the good bits into a cohesive gaming experience. It's main fault is that its gameplay is repetitive across all stories and levels. It is only in the Cars levels that you get a break from the usual platforming routine. To sum it up, the game starts off pretty well, but doesn't quite sustain the momentum.
Who's To Blame: Kinect Or The Developers?
While the very concept of the Kinect sounds impressive, it's disappointing to see how its brilliance fades in the face of fast-paced action. There's no telling if the Kinect sensor itself is to blame or if it's being bottlenecked by the six-year-old X360 hardware. At this stage it's difficult to pinpoint if the developers themselves have failed to fully utilise the Kinect's capabilities, or if there's a genuine problem with the device itself. What's certain though is that the platform needs to break out of its casual attitude towards gaming, and instead resolve its control and sensitivity issues for a seamless experience.
Overall Rating: 3