- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fans of the Skywalker saga in need of fully immersing themselves in the combative ways of the Jedi have a new way to interact within the Star Wars universe.

Yes, loyal gaming Padawan have heard that before over the years with the exploits of the Nintendo Wii as they turned their Wiimote into an onscreen lightsaber in such games as The Force Unleashed and The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels.

However, the full Force of a Jedi’s might was never fully realized (often still tethered to a traditional controller), until now in Kinect Star Wars (Microsoft Game Studios and LucasArts, rated Teen, reviewed for Xbox 360, $49.99).

Microsoft’s mega motion-sensing Kinect system delivers the full body-mapping potential, sans any controller, and actually offers a fun experience for the younger, casual Star Wars gamer to become a virtual Guardian of Peace and Justice.

After an introduction by R2-D2 and C-3PO hanging out in the Jedi Archives, players should first pick an action-packed, on-rails (the game directs the course a character travels, kind of like a Disneyland dark ride) campaign mode titled Jedi Destiny: Dark Side Rising. It’s missions mix about four hours worth of exhausting combat and calorie-burning maneuvers

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Up to a pair of players stand in front of the television (have plenty of room to move) and cooperatively arrive at a point in the prequels Star Wars era when the galaxy was entering the full-blown Clone Wars.

The lead player picks from about a dozen Padawan prototyes including the species Bith (like a Cantina band member) and Twi’lek (like the blue-skinned Jedi Master Aayla Secura) while another player can drop in and out (in a split-screen mode) as another armed Padawan to help.

After guidance from multiple mentors including Jedi Master Mavra Zane, Yoda and Mace Windu to learn how to hold and swing a saber (a fisted right hand holds the virtual blade), use some core powers (left hand to unleash a Force push or both hands to mystically lift objects) and practice moving around the virtual environments (make a jump motion to jump, step forward for a dash and sway to the sides to avoid incoming obstacles),

It’s then off to Kashyyyk to fight alongside Chewbacca and his Wookiee buddies holding off Battle Droids, Super Battle Droids and reptilian Trandoshan soldiers (legions of bounty hunter Bossk for the newbies).

Regrettably, the lightsaber moves are still frustratingly laggy (especially during heated boss duels), although unleashing a figure-eight swinging motion to deflect laser blasts (like some of the impressive Anakin vs. Obi Wan moves in Revenge of the Sith) is dead-on exhilarating.

What’s really welcomed is this is a workout across the galaxy with no couch potatoes allowed.

After about 25 minutes, my in-shape 12-year old tester is already sweating and this old man reviewer has arm fatigue. Yet, the team lasted more than an hour due to some energetic moments in the cartoony storytelling.

In fact, returning for a second day of the campaign found the young tester even more enthused by some of the fights and attacks.

Besides Jedi combat, action in the adventure includes: riding a speeder bike (lean body left and right, pull arms back to brake, push arms forward to accelerate) through a forest (like right out of Endor in Return of the Jedi); jumping on Trade Federation tanks to slice through metal; and controlling the gun turrets of a Millennium Falcon style ship.

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