Sunday, 19 November 2017
Reviews

Star Wars: Jedi Challenges review: combining the power of augmented reality with the Force


The incredible sense of immersion comes not just from the inspired use of the tech, but also all the familiar Star Wars sights and sounds. The clashing of lightsaber blades, the adrenaline-pumping score, and even enemy taunts, like Vader’s, “You are as clumsy as you are stupid,” all contribute to the feeling you’re actually face-to-face with these infamous foes.

It doesn’t hurt the characters all look, sound, and animate realistically; despite being holograms, they sport plenty of cool cosmetic details and character-defining nuance.

A Galaxy of Possibilities

When not tearing through Sith with your virtual blade, Jedi Challenges puts you behind a Holochess board (“Let the Wookiee win”) or above the real-time action of a strategic battle. Chess plays as it did in the first film, with participants attempting to take control of the board by moving animated monsters around.

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The latter, though, plays more like a real-time strategy game that uses your living room floor as the battlefield. The entertaining entry had us selecting units, like soldiers of various ranks, turrets, cannons, and even familiar Jedi, with the lightsaber controller.

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Once chosen and placed on the map, the tiny heroes and vehicles fought it out in an effort to complete offensive and defensive objectives. Towering above the map like a god-like commander, and manipulating the action as it unfolds near your feet, feels fantastic.

The three game modes are woven into a progression-based path that has you unlocking planets as you play. Users will visit Naboo, Garel, Lothal, Hoth, and Takodana, completing objectives and fighting foes appropriate to the respective planets and eras. The strategic combat game is coolest on Hoth because, well, duh, the opening battle of The Empire Strikes Back, while our duels with the Darths were favourites, also for obvious reasons.

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Each game also has various difficulty tiers, so the challenge ramps up appropriately as you progress. Of course, progress is also rewarded with new Force powers, battle units, and game pieces in the duels, combat, and Holochess modes, respectively.

This all adds up to an experience that gives you about 12-15 hours of highly replayable content. And even if you go from Padawan to Jedi Master in a weekend, Disney’s promising future content updates that will continue to test your skills.

Jedi Challenges isn’t perfect. We were pulled from the experience a few times when our virtual blade lagged behind our physical movements, as well as when the holographic images didn’t quite line up with where we were actually looking. These are minor gripes, however, in an experience that otherwise made us feel more like a lightsaber-wielding badass than any previous game or interactive experience we’ve played.

Faithful fans of the galaxy far, far away will want this one for the cool lightsaber replica – getting to use it to slice through favourite childhood villains is just the icing on the cake. Or, ya know, carbon scoring on the R2 unit.


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