Unleash the Force, Unleash the Fun
When one reads the title “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” they can expect two things. The game will be set in the Star Wars universe and that you will unleash the force on some imperial scum. What might not be evident is if the game will be a good star wars licensed game or not. Well, as it turns out, the game is good. The game is worthy of the star wars name and you do unleash some force on some imperial weaklings.
The story in The Force Unleashed is very strong. The story and acting in the game is better than movies have been (Episode I – III) though it does lend some if its success to those movies. The game takes place some time between Episode III Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV A New Hope.
While hunting down Jedi, Darth Vader finds himself on the Wookiee planet Kashyyk. He finds the Jedi he is searching for and upon his defeat he discovers that he has a son who is also acquainted with the force. Vader takes the young man under his wing and soon the boy becomes his apprentice. However, this is against Sith standards, so for most of the game you are Darth Vader’s dirty little secret. As Darth Vader’s apprentice, Galen Marek (code named”Starkiller”), you hunt down Jedi for Darth Vader. Also since you need to be kept secret you will take down allies and enemies alike thus leaving no witness. Only the Rogue Shadow’s crew (The Rogue Shadow is the name of a space ship), pilot Juno Eclipse and Proxy your dubious droid ally who’s primary program is to kill you. All together the story is pretty solid. It is full of twists and turns and the voice acting is quite good. There are multiple endings which are both pretty satisfying
So the story is great but that doesn’t mean much if the gameplay sucks. Luckily the game is fun to play too. The game is a 3 person action game with hack and slash gameplay similar to Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry, etc. It also mixes in your force powers that sort of feel like playing Second Sight. Your force powers are force grip (you can pick up and throw objects), force push, force lightning, force repulse (similar to force push but it sends out a shock-wave around your body pushing surrounding enemies aside), lightning shield, and saber throw. All the moves are useful. The game requires you to use some moves such as pushing open doors or pulling switches on doors to open them. Starkiller also gains experience and levels up every so often allowing you to unlock moves, or level up your character and make your force powers stronger. Also there are collectible Sith holocrons strewn about levels that help you level up or even unlock secret costumes and lightsaber upgrades.
During some battles you will also encounter some QTE moments. These usually come in the form of finishing moves on some of the larger or more important enemies. Other such events come in duels in the form of “locks” such as force locks or saber locks where you have to repeatedly waggle the analog stick or rapidly tap a button to escape from a situation. Such situations are a good break in the action that requires quick reactions to pull off. However, there is a minor issue. When you do these QTE moments in an epic battle, you don’t really get to see the action on screen as you’re concentrating on your button pushes rather than what the characters are doing on screen.
The AI in the game is a mixed bag. I wouldn’t say the enemies are smart, but they do have their own attacks they like to exploit on you. This can sometimes be annoying when the more powerful enemies continue to cheap shot you. However, most of the enemies have their own weaknesses making it possible to defeat them, and when you level up you won’t feel as powerless. The enemies also do some interesting things when you fling them about. If you force grip an enemy they might try to grab something. Sometimes they grab another enemy and sometimes they grab onto a piece of railing to avoid being flung somewhere. Bad news for them, it doesn’t work out.
The graphics are pretty solid. The levels are pretty detailed with plenty of special effects such as reflections, particle and explosion effects, and other similar special effects. Blaster fire plasters the wall full of burn marks and lightsaber strikes leave behind a burning scar on surfaces. The game uses the Havok physics engine, and the environments are scattered with numerous objects to throw around including your enemies who will be flung hopelessly into the abyss of space. Levels usually sport an impressive number of breakable objects The game has three main areas each with their unique enemies. There are space ships that have storm troopers, or any other variation of troopers, on it. Raxus Prime a junk planet inhabited by Jawas and Rodians. The third is the lush organic world of Felucia.
Rounding out the game is the soundtrack, which has the classic John Williams feel to it and is very well done. The voice acting is also spot on. It is well acted and convincing. The sound effects are your typical star wars sound effects, which is good. So when you hear blasters being fired and lightsabers being slashed through the air it sounds authentic.
The campaign is a bit short. It took about 11 hours to complete the game on the hardest difficulty. However, if you factor in finding all the holocrons, getting both endings, and trying to get 1000 achievement points the game took 28 hours to beat, which is a pretty good length of time for a game like this.
If you’re itching for a great action game or maybe you’re feeling like you’re in a Star Wars slump this game is worth a pick up. It has satisfying gameplay, a great story, and collectibles, not to mention some downloadable content. Add in the fact the game has multiple endings and you should get a lot of play out of this game.