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Kinect Star Wars: the podracing is pretty ok!

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Our last preview of Kinect Star Wars was less than kind. The simple act of moving a Jedi through a totally linear, droid-filled tube was so laborious and unresponsive that Chris dubbed it "the worst thing that's ever existed." I can happily say the newly announced podracing section of the game is nowhere near as troublesome, and dare I say it was actually fun?


Above: I played as Anakin - no word if other pods are available

As in the movie, you control each engine by pushing your hands forward and backward. When both hands are parallel, the pod moves forward; to turn, pull one hand back (lessening that engine's thrust) and keep the other steady on a full burn. This control scheme was simulated with two analog sticks in the rather good Racer Revenge for PS2, but the act of actually moving your arms to scream down the track makes each bump, turn and crash more intense. This is also the first time podracing has been portrayed in HD, so the added visual clarity helps convey the intense sense of speed.


Above: Use the boost to get through

Simple as the controls may be, there's still a stiff learning curve. We're all used to wheels for steering, plus the sense of friction as tires squeal across the street, so handling a floating, dual-engine bullet chariot with just your hands takes some getting used to. I crashed once, but still managed to finish third by boosting like mad in the final stretch - you know, that place where the Tusken Raiders take potshots at passing racers. I didn't see any of 'em, but there were moments were critters jumped on the pod and I had to mime-toss things at them to scare them off.


Above: Kinect Star Wars takes place just after Episode I. Ugh whyyyyy

My only real concern with this mode, other than it's not a full game and just part of a larger bundle, is hairpin turns. I couldn't figure out a way to slow down and take tight turns well, even with the racing line HUD drawing a perfect path. Maybe it just takes more practice, maybe it's just not responsive enough - won't know for sure until it ships (along with this sweet-ass Kinect bundle) this fall.

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14 comments

  • mothbanquet - July 30, 2011 11:25 a.m.

    @grim08 - To my knowledge, controllers have been the main form of manipulating one's games since well after the 90's. I, along with many people here, are not 'stuck' anywhere, nor are our horses 'high' in any way. We simply know from experience that, while motion controls are all well and good when they work, more often than not they are simply a poor substitute for a controller. The industry has had many years now to perfect these 'other gaming experiences' but they have failed to do so and laden valuable shelving of our games stores with horrible shovelware. Not to say that such a thing didn't happen befoe the Wii but, being honest, that's something it has become somewhat famous for. Even some of its best games, including Paper Mario and Smash Bros, were simply better with a traditional controller. Kinect gets a bad rap because it has produced one, maybe two good games thus far. Simply look at the reviews. The vast majority of them are mediocre at best and the terrible ones outnumber the good ones by a fair margin. Like many people, I would rather BioWare, Ubisoft and 343 Industries use the time and resources spent shoehorning needless features into their games on improving their games' engines, AI and playtesting for bugs. That said, I hope I am wrong and Kinect turns out to be a step into the future, I really do but based on things so far (such as the subject of this article), this looks unlikely. So kindly get off your own high horse and allow the rest of us our misgivings and doubts. Lord knows we have our reasons.
  • Plan10FromOuterSpace - July 25, 2011 9:23 p.m.

    first time ive ever heard anything nice said about podracing, ever...
  • Imgema - July 23, 2011 9:51 a.m.

    Episode 1 Racer was a great game on N64 or PC. But even the PC version or the Dreamcast version (which is the same as the PC one) weren't as good, technically, as the arcade version, or at least that's what i've heard. I'd love to see a new HD version with improved textures and a new engine, because home versions were somewhat low on polygons. As long as we can play with a controller that is.
  • Crabhand - July 23, 2011 7:28 a.m.

    If it is as fun as the N64 podracing game, Kinect Star Wars may actually have one merit.
  • GringoStar - July 23, 2011 12:54 a.m.

    @Kethmach Because Kinect Sports is for the Hardest of Hardcores.
  • Kethmach - July 23, 2011 12:29 a.m.

    Um... yeah. I care about this. I'm hoping that the light saber stuff either gets improved or gets vastly overshadowed by other/better stuff on the disk. So... YES, I care about this and unlike the Elite pricks that spend more hours bashing Kinect than actually playing the "H4rdc0re" games they're so insecure about, I hope we see more proper uses for Kinect other than dancing.
  • 510BrotherPanda - July 23, 2011 12:25 a.m.

    Take it as you will, but I got more mileage out of N64's Episode 1 Racer than Diddy Kong Racing and Mario Kart 64 combined. Never really got into the controls of the arcade version, so this doesn't really appeal to me.
  • GringoStar - July 23, 2011 12:08 a.m.

    I can't wait to finally hear people about how they "grab" and "play" with their invisible "light saber". I think I seen Charlie Murphy or was it Dave Chappelle playing with a "light saber".
  • Dave3087 - July 22, 2011 11:56 p.m.

    @EwoksTasteLikeChicken I think ConVito was just stating his personal preference there, not sales.
  • EwoksTasteLikeChicken - July 22, 2011 11:48 p.m.

    Why are people still shitting on Kinect? Yes, it's not the best, but it's still a hell of a lot better than the Wii or Move. So what if Microsoft is pushing Kinect? Some of the stuff *shocker* is actually fun on it, or so I've heard. You're not being forced to buy this, are you? Microsoft is still making Gears and Halo, so you don't have to worry about that. If I can learn to stop hating on Activision, I'm sure that other people can stop hating on Kinect. @ConVito It's called Lego Star Wars I. The podracing was pretty fun in that game. Also, have you seen the sales charts recently? Micosoft is not tied with Sony, in fact the Xbox is number 1, followed by the Wii and then PS3.
  • Redeater - July 22, 2011 10:11 p.m.

    I remember playing the N64 one. It was pretty great but handled like ass for some reason as opposed to the PC version. I hope they follow the first one as a template.
  • ConVito - July 22, 2011 9:46 p.m.

    Man, Microsoft is acting like the parent of a sociopath child nobody likes. They're constantly trying to convince everyone that its (Kinect's) existence isn't a complete waste of everyone's time. Then they start trying to make everyone else change (i.e. purposely dumbing down potentially great games, like this one which would be amazing if you just had a controller, just so Kinect can play too) rather than put some damn effort into making the little monster at least presentable. Stop embarrassing yourselves, Microsoft. You're still #1 (tied with Sony) in gaming for me, but this is just sad.
  • StrayGator - July 22, 2011 8:32 p.m.

    Ep.I Racer is my all time favorite racing game, and I hoped for a similar game with current technology. This being a segment of a Kinect-only game saddens me.
  • TheHowetzer - July 22, 2011 7:58 p.m.

    People don't care about this , right?

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