Credit: Lucasfilm Ltd

Star Wars fans, prepare to connect with The Force in a kinectic way. On Monday, Microsoft Studios and LucasArts will formally announce the first Star Wars video game for Kinect, Microsoft’s hands-free, your-body-is-the-controller playing experience for the Xbox 360. Simply called Kinect Star Wars, the game is intended for all ages and will hit stores this winter. Microsoft will preview the game this at E3 (aka the Electronic Entertainment Expo), the video game industry’s annual confab at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Check out the trailer for a peek at the game and the gameplay:

Kinect Star Wars will include a variety of modes set in various corners of the vast Star Wars universe established by the two trilogies. In the “Jedi Destiny” mode — which will be showcased at E3 — you play one of several new characters in a story that begins shortly after the events of Star Wars: Episode One — The Phantom Menace and concludes against the backdrop of Chancellor Palpatine’s rise to power on Star Wars: Episode Three — Revenge of the Sith. However, the story will take players into environments glimpsed or referenced in the original trilogy (episodes four through six), including Bespin, the giant gas planet that’s home to Cloud City (see: The Empire Strikes Back). Judging from a video posted by Microsoft-affiliated developer Terminal Reality, the game will also allow you to square off against Darth Vader himself. Good luck with that.

The Kinect gameplay works exactly as you might imagine. Standing in front of your TV within view of the Kinect scanner, players (either alone or with a friend/padawan) can “use The Force” to lift or throw objects by reaching out with a hand (or both hands, for moves that require extra effort), just like the Jedis do in the movies. You also use your hands to mimic other movements, like driving a pod-racer, firing the guns on an X-wing fighter, and of course, wielding a lightsaber to hack at droids and deflect laser bolts… although if you need the tactile experience of holding a laser sword, go ahead and use your toy lightsaber (we know you have one) — it won’t subvert the experience. If you’ve played Kinect games, you know your movements are replicated by your on-screen avatar with near one-to-one, monkey see/monkey do perfection. Kinect Star Wars tweaks the visuals in a way that flatters your inner Jedi. “What we found early in development is that [no one wants] to look like ‘Star Wars kid‘ in front of [their] friends,” says Craig Derrick, LucasArts’ lead producer on the project. “If I am doing these actions, and if I am seeing the character on screen repeating those actions, I want to look bad-ass. We decided to augment the animation, so when I sweep my hand right to left with my lightsaber, it’s going to look cool. That was a major challenge and it works.” The game will also include a voice component (Jedi mind tricks, perhaps?), though LucasArts and Microsoft are keeping mum for now on how that might work. Ditto: Sith moves like Force chokes and lightening.

Microsoft has sold over 10 million Kinect units since launch last fall. According to the company, many of the purchases came from consumers who used Kinect as the reason to buy their first Xbox — significant, given that traditional consoles like Xbox and Wii have been losing ground over the past year to non-traditional gaming devices like phones and tablets. The strength of the Star Wars brand and the quality of its creative world promises to help Kinect further expand its reach and gameplay potential. “From very early on in our development of Kinect, we realized Star Wars was an ideal game for us,” says Kudo Tsunoda, creative director for Microsoft Studios. “It’s one of those things where you can see how the unique parts of Kinect can bring to life the fantasy of being a Jedi in a way no other game console or media can do.”

Keep coming back to all week for more E3 news.


Image Credit: LucasArts