Skip to main content

E3 2011 hands-on: Kinect Star Wars

Image used with permission by copyright holder

We’re calling this a hands-on, but the defining feature of Kinect Star Wars is that your hands never touch a thing. The game is playable without any controller at all thanks to some creative design work by LucasArts and Microsoft Game Studios. While I was initially quite skeptical how a full 3D action game could be played without any controller, playing has made me more of a believer. Kinect Star Wars has the potential to be the first solid action game without controller-based movement.

The basics

The demo shown at E3 is fairly short and begins with a training session where you learn the basics of being a Jedi.

Force lifting: First, you are taught how to use the Force to lift a small starship. Surprisingly, this isn’t the struggle that Yoda makes it out to be in The Empire Strikes Back. To lift something with the Force, you hold both hands up like you’re casting a spell. After a second, a green halo will surround the object in your line of site. Once it’s under your control, you can move your arms any direction to lift or place it down. Better still, the speed and veracity of your toss is entirely up to you. I found it very satisfying to toss droid troopers into one another and can imagine how much fun it might be to Force control an entire starship and make it crash into another ship.

Force energy blast: Learning how to create an energy beam is also a necessary skill for any Jedi. To do this, you simply hold your left hand up at chest length like that kid from Rookie of the Year. Once a good sized energy ball forms in your hand, a thrust forward will shoot it at your unlucky opponent.

Jumping and dashing: To jump, you put your arms down and…jump; it’s pretty simple, really. To dash forward to reach your next opponent, you put one leg out in front of the other and crouch forward a bit, as if you’re actually about to fly at someone. Both of these moves are fairly straight forward.


Lightsaber combat: Once you’ve learned the basics, its time to get to action. To pull out your lightsaber, you hold your right hand (future versions may enable left-handed Jedi) out at a 30-45 degree angle, fingers straight. This causes your lightsaber to float out of its holster and into your hand. To use it, just start swinging. Enemies cut apart at exactly the angles you swing and lasers can be blocked and deflected back toward opposing droids by swinging your sword quickly when a shot is headed your way.

Using your skills

The campaign mode of the game appears to take place during the clone wars, but the demo we played featured Cloud City. Other videos seemed to weave together old and new trilogy themes as well. The E3 demo is fairly short, but had us facing off against standard droids, roly poly droids with shields, a team of battle droids with weapons that block your lightsaber, and finally a team of Sith lords. There’s a trick to defeating each type of enemy and combat feels fluid enough. A familiar Jedi helps you along as well.

More interesting than combat is the automated cutscenes and movement. Though I was never actually moving my character, I never felt out of control of the situation, which is a strange feeling. You can still pick and choose which enemies you fight and rush forward or back; it’s just that where you’d run around endlessly in the past, Kinect Star Wars instead shows you a cut scene and keeps you moving along. One could probably get away with calling it an on-rails action game, but this description is somewhat limiting,  gives players a bit more control than they it

Image used with permission by copyright holder

It’s difficult to say how well these controls will hold up in space levels and some other types of gameplay, but our first demonstration of Kinect Star Wars was much more positive than we thought it would be, and that’s exciting. We look forward to checking the full game out as it nears release.

Editors' Recommendations

Jeffrey Van Camp
Former Digital Trends Contributor
As DT's Deputy Editor, Jeff helps oversee editorial operations at Digital Trends. Previously, he ran the site's…
E3 2023 returns in June with separate business and consumer days
The logo for E3 2023.

E3 2023 will return as an in-person event from June 13 to June 16, 2023, as announced by ReedPop today.

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) already revealed that E3 will return in 2023, but now we know exactly when the event will take place, along with several other key details. E3 will once again take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center after a four-year hiatus, but will incorporate separate days for industry professionals and general consumers.

Read more
E3 isn’t dead just yet as ESA plans physical show for 2023
E3 logo

Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest, as well as other digital gaming showcase livestreams coming this summer, have proven that the gaming industry doesn't need E3, which was canceled this year for the second time in two years to reduce health risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is telling everyone not to count it out just yet. Gaming's governing body has announced that E3 will be returning in 2023.

ESA President and CEO Stan Pierre-Louis said in an interview with The Washington Post that E3 2023 will combine both in-person and digital elements. He attributed the success of last year's virtual E3 to the expanse of its reach to fans and journalists around the world who couldn't afford to fly to Los Angeles for the convention or couldn't attend it for other reasons. He added that people still want to connect and network with each other in person.

Read more
With E3 2022 canceled, these are the summer gaming events to watch
E3 logo

We learned this week that 2022 will be the second year since 1995 to not have any kind of E3 expo. While the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) says E3's physical and digital cancelation this year enables it to "devote all our energy and resources to delivering a revitalized physical and digital E3 experience next summer," it also raises questions regarding how game announcements will happen this summer. Companies like Microsoft and Nintendo often tie big reveals to E3, so what is the industry's plan now that E3 2022 is officially canceled?
So far, we only know of a couple of events that will take place, though there's still time for a lot more to be announced. For those wondering how E3 2022's cancelation will impact summer 2022's game reveal landscape, we've broken down everything that is and isn't happening -- and that might happen -- in the coming months. 
What's not happening
E3's absence leaves a crater in the usual gaming hype cycle. Typically, the yearly event took place for a week in Los Angeles and served as a spot where game publishers could announce and advertise their upcoming slates of titles and game-related products. In 2020, the ESA canceled the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it returned digitally in 2021 with mixed results. 

On March 31, the event organizers at the ESA confirmed that there would be no digital or physical E3 event this year. That was quite surprising as more and more in-person events are returning, and the ESA even demonstrated that it could hold the event digitally before. The event may return in 2023, but this year the E3 event that typically consolidates many gaming announcements to one week in June won't play out like normal.
Outside of E3, we also know that EA won't hold its yearly EA Play Live event this summer. Typically, the publisher has its own events outside of E3, but chose not to this year because "this year things aren't lining up to show you everything on one date." That means that if we get new information on titles like the Dead Space remake or the next Dragon Age and Mass Effect, it won't be at an E3-adjacent event. 
What is happening
There are still some major gaming events that will take place this summer. This June, the biggest one is Geoff Keighley's Summer Game Fest. The creator of The Game Awards plans to hold a Summer Game Fest Kickoff Livestream full of new trailers and announcements. Last year's event featured the release date of Elden Ring, so there are certainly high expectations surrounding the showcase, especially as E3 won't be drawing away any reveals. An indie-focused Day of the Devs presentation and other Summer Game Fest-branded events are also expected to take place this June. Keighley tweeted that Summer Game Fest festivities "will be less than one month this year." 
IGN confirmed that its Summer of Gaming event would also take place in June and feature exclusive trailers, gameplay, and interviews. Bethesda has also teased that it will show Starfield this summer, and we're supposed to get another look at Final Fantasy XVI soon.
As for in-person events, a couple of them are happening later in the summer. Gamescom, a European gaming expo equivalent to E3, will happen in person in Cologne, Germany. In Japan, the Tokyo Game Show will be the final big in-person summer event between September 15 and 18. While E3 might not be happening, it's clear that some digital showcases will happen this summer and that events outside of America are still on track to take place in person. 

Read more