Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
OverviewPlatform: Xbox 360
This 3rd person Star Wars game provides a brand new storyline. But is there anything here for your average game to enjoy?
With so many movies, books, comics and video games taking place in the Star Wars universe it’s surprising that there’s still fresh ideas floating around in the heads of Lucas Arts studio. Star Wars The Force Unleashed is set between the films Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. You play as Darth Vader’s secret apprentice Star killer, who carries out assassination missions against what is left of the Jedi. Surprisingly, the story, while original, is just mediocre by today’s standards. It doesn’t help that the characters, with the exception of a quirky android companion, are dull and unoriginal. The biggest downside to the original story is how darn predictable the game is early on. You get major hints of possible love interests and betrayals but overall, it really makes what takes place during the two films dismissible.
The five to six hour single player campaign turns out to be a very unbalanced experience in the sense that the difficulty varies from mind numbingly stupid to throw your controller against the wall hard. In the beginning level you play as Darth Vader, who along with the Empire army invades Kashyyk the Wookie home world. You start with most of the abilities you gain later in the game which makes you practically godlike. This is a great aspect of the game because you can play around with the force powers, interact with the environment and most importantly, you actually feel like Darth Vader.
The tutorial is one of the best levels of the game due to how fresh the powers are and how you never tire of crushing Wookies’ throats and tossing them off bridges. But to go from being a godlike warrior to a weak apprentice makes the five to six hour experience to regain that level of godliness painfully annoying. My biggest gripe with The Force Unleashed is how throughout the game you don’t really feel like an all powerful Sith apprentice and this ruins the overall feel of the game. For example, in the Ti Fighter Factory level Rebel troops run at you with stun rods–are you kidding me, in the history of Star Wars, people usually run from Jedi, yet here, characters with stun rods seem to want to die. While I do understand that you need many enemies to fight, it pulls you out of the game’s immersion with careless design choices. Force powers could be one of the highlights of The Force Unleashed. Force lift, lightning, force push and light saber throw are always fresh and fun to pull off. The AI is dismal, with enemies that just stand around waiting for your saber to slice them in half. The game tries to make up for the poor AI by having their equipment evolve to counter balance new force powers, but this renders your force powers useless and quickly frustrates players.
When you envision a Jedi battle, your mind jumps straight to classic battles such as Vader versus Kenobi, yet the boss fights in Force Unleashed are laughable. Their attack patterns are easily memorized, so simply mash the X button, use some force powers, and run around until your meter recharges. Each Jedi you face really doesn’t take full advantage of their force powers, usually sticks to one power, and uses their light saber. The Jedi battles disappoint, seeing how the Jedi are more like regular enemies but with more health.
Graphically this game doesn’t win any awards and ends up resembling a last generation game. While there are a wide variety of environments, graphically, the environments are bland with poor detail. This is a shame because Star Wars is known for its awesome planets and original scenery. There is a strange design choice by the developers where, during the cinematic trailer, they switch from in game graphics to normal cinematic graphics which makes watching the trailers a little disorienting. During my five hour campaign the game crashed twice at crucial parts. If you don’t beat a level in one sitting you have to start over when you come back to it, which makes me feel like I’m playing a game from the 90’s.
Star War fans will undoubtedly fall in love with the new story and Star Killer himself, yet, as the advertisement slogan goes, “the force will blow your mind”. Star Wars The Force Unleashed will certainly blow your mind, but with poor game play, simple environments, and overall, the game doesn’t do anything entirely well.