Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… LucasArts came up with a game that could very well be the Star Wars game fans had long been hoping for. But would it be enough to please Lord Vader?

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… LucasArts came up with the idea to work on an action adventure game that could very well be the Star Wars game fans have long been hoping for. The Force Unleashed would be unlike any other Star Wars game because it would give you control over the force. But would it be enough to please Lord Vader?

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a new title that pushes the ever-expanding Star Wars story to new heights. Taking place between the third and the fourth episode (which is strangely enough the most recent film made “Revenge of the Sith” and the first film “A New Hope”), The Force Unleashed starts off well enough. The tutorial mission lets you be the boss of all bosses, Darth Vader himself. More or less untouchable, the first mission allows you to get comfortable with The Force Unleashed’s simple control system. You’ll take the helm quite easily with the lightsabre, force control, and jumping all able to be accessed in close proximity under your right thumb as well as blocking and movement on the right hand. As you first begin to travel the world, you can see the detail all around you as a fight has broken loose. This sort of gameplay continues through much of the game as LucasArts have developed this to feel as if you’re part of the Star Wars universe and not just playing a small part in it.

Early into the game, you’ll find that you’re playing Galen Marek, a child spare from death at the hands of Darth Vader. Raised as his apprentice, The Force Unleashed will take you on the story that destroys the remaining Jedi in the galaxy before A New Hope.

As far as how the game looks, The Force Unleashed excels. With an artistic sensibility that feels as if scenery and characters have been developed on the sets of a film, this is one game that looks like something a Star Wars fan would no doubt be pleased with. Characters are well-detailed as are environments in both layout and complexity. With the use three separate physics engines working together, The Force Unleashed puts together a world that where by things look as if they’re happening randomly. As you bash objects around using your force powers and characters fly off in different directions, it will almost feel as if you have the force.

The sound is excellent as you’d no doubt expect from a LucasArts game with fantastic music seemingly inspired by the John Williams classics that graced the movies. Even the voice acting is superb with great jobs done by Sam Witwer and Adrienne Wilkinson. While James Earl Jones doesn’t reprise his role as Darth Vader, Soul Calibur’s Darth Vader does make his mark here voiced by Matt Sloan. As a result, the characters feel more real than some of the recent films. Loads of sound effects grace this game and if you’re a fan of the zoom of a lightsaber, the high-pitched wail of a blaster, or a soaring stealthy sound of a TIE Fighter flying within an inch of your life, you’ll love your ears for turning this game right up loud.

But while The Force Unleashed promises to be a good old fashioned action brawler set inside the Star Wars universe and loaded with some great new technical feats, it is the lack of any real definition and development that send this game crumbling to the ground.
While the story and acting are both equally good, you find early on that you’re not really doing anything but wandering around levels killing the same bad guys over and over again. It’s enough to make you think that there was a special on clones and attacking forces that week so everyone stocked up because they’re there on every corner and every place. The same enemies over and over again, mission after mission with some boss missions thrown in for good measure. This sort of formulaic approach can work in some games, but not here because The Force Unleashed should have delivered on so much more.

Rather than work within emotional contexts like one of the best Star Wars games Knights Of The Old Republic, The Force Unleashed relies solely on the heavy third person action design with a little bit of RPG points building thrown in for good measure. And while you could argue that role-playing genre adds a little bit more depth to the game, it doesn’t add enough for it to be interesting.

Even the introduction to the game seems oddly placed because, while it starts with the now-typecast Star Wars scrolling text introduction, the paragraphs ends about a full minute before the camera decides to move down and look at something else, something interesting like say the Imperial Star Destroyers seen when it does move. A lack of planning or perhaps game loading; whatever it is, LucasArts probably should have fleshed out the introductory text a little bit more to make it last long enough to be interesting.
And that’s just one of the things you notice from the get-go.

It might seem like I’m being a tad negative for a game that promised a lot, but it’s not just me. Friends have remarked to me earlier as well as other CyberShack staff that the game lacks any substance. It has a great film feeling as if you’re watching something George Lucas himself might have approved to be re-edited back into the Star Wars trilogy and in this sense, it’s as good as the classic Star Wars title for the Nintendo 64, Shadows of the Empire. But the moment you sit down to play The Force Unleashed, your enthusiasm starts to lessen as if the force is being sucked right out of you.

While still somewhat entertaining and enjoyable in small increments, the force doesn’t appear to be all that strong within this one.

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Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: Activision
Classification: M
Formats: Xbox 360, PS3
URL: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Written by Leigh D. Stark