I received a preview disc of the new Grease game for Xbox 360 Kinect last week, but with all my waking hours consumed by NY Comic Con, I wasn't really able to sample it properly for you until now. And remember, I was only sent a preview disc, not a final review copy, so there might still be a few tweaks made. But it seems pretty final to me. Heck, I was even earning Achievements left and right!
Basically, Grease is a party game, pure and simple. From the cartoony graphic style to the gameplay, it's meant to be enjoyed by a group of people. Two people can dance at the same time, or one can sing while the other dances. It's based on the movie, so the songs are from there, but the characters are done in a cartoony style that nods in that direction without having to pay extra for the actors. (Although oddly, one of the things you can unlock are bonus video clips which are from the movie. But they're silent and only 30 seconds long, so I don't much see the point of them.)
There are 21 tracks to sing and dance too, including all the songs from the film, plus songs from the era featured in the movie as well as a few more period tunes. The dancing is rather forgiving, which is good, because there's no training mode to help you learn the steps. You just gotta jump in and do it and hope for the best. The best part is when the choreography in the game matches the choreography from the movie, such as with "Greased Lightning" or "Hound Dog." It might just be me, but I get a little thrill when I do the same moves that John Travolta made famous.
The singing is a mixed bag. It's also rather forgiving, but trying to use the microphone in the Kinect sensor is a losing proposition. You're going to want a USB mic instead. I tried out my wireless Lips mic, and it does work, although I felt like it wasn't registering everything correctly. But when I tried plugging in my old Rock Band mic, I actually got a worse score, so whatever. Oh, and another thing about the singing: Just like with SingStar's rap meter, any time you have to do any spoken word sections in Grease, it doesn't register very well at all.
There are all kinds of modes of play, like Dance mode, Karaoke, Quickplay, Party Mode and whatnot. Like I said, it's made for a group to enjoy. There are also minigames that you can unlock and play, and I tried the first two that unlocked and didn't care for them very much. The "Greased Lightning" one has you doing autobody work on the car while the boys sing, but trying to get the Kinect to register your arm twisting to work the wrench was kind of hit or miss. The other one was set to "Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee," and was even worse. You were supposed to move your arms according to the directions on screen, and I only felt like they registered half the time.
But the meat of the game is the dancing, and that's where the game is actually pretty fun. Especially when you get a couple of people dancing together, because the choreography has you moving around each other and changing sides and interacting at times. Just make sure that you've got enough space for everyone to move around in. (I didn't and it was awkward!)
Obviously, it's no Dance Central, but it's not meant to be. Singing and dancing to the songs from Grease is still pretty fun, especially if you're a fan of the movie. It's all rather lighthearted and cute, and seems to have achieved what it was going for. (Although as a bonus, despite the art style, they've gone for a T rating and left the songs uncensored with the slightly saucy lyrics intact!) Grease is already on store shelves if you're interested!