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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Genre: Action Players: 1 (2 Online)
Developer: Lucas Arts Official Site:
Publisher: Lucas Arts Classification: TBC
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Genre: Action
Players: 1 (2 Online)
Developer: Lucas Arts
Official Site: http://www.lucasarts....
Publisher: Lucas Arts
Classification: TBC
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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review
Review By @ 01:34pm 16/09/08
It seems like ages since this title was first announced; all the Star Wars gaming fans of the world (me included), likely chomping at the bit for its inevitable release date. That came today (September 17), for those of you still unaware and while I realise there are more than a handful of you out there who'll care less about any review of the game simply because it is a Star Wars title, those of you who're waiting to know whether the wait was worth it should definitely read on.

Now that last paragraph might have sounded a bit doomish; like a "stay away from this game at any cost" type of thing, but that couldn't be further from the truth.

It's just, like the prequels, there are elements added to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed that are simply unwarranted, and at times it comes across as overly camp and utterly ill-balanced in its narrative misdirection of dark souls, betrayal, redemption and killing Jedis. This is done with the inclusion of whacky Lucas-esque characters; a love interest (who if Vader saw how she dressed for work would Force Choke her on the spot), an annoying Droid and some equally irritating enemies and bosses. But if you're willing to overlook most of this, there's an ace story here that Star Wars fans will eat up – you just need to persevere for awhile before any of it feels justified.

The same too, can be said of being a Sith Apprentice. Initially the game does little to make you feel overly powerful (especially after the Prologue, where you play as the powerful Vader), and at times, thanks to some broken gameplay mechanics, you'll likely want to Force Push the controller into a wall out of frustration. But again, if you can overlook and forgive (because this is Star Wars), what's waiting around the gameplay and story corner is a Star Wars title worthy of a medal ceremony presented by Princess Leia Organa, and then some.

So, as mentioned (and touted by the folks at LucasArts), you begin the game as the darkest mofo this side of A Long Time Ago, In A Galaxy Far, Far Away... Darth Vader.

The Man With No Name

Having had his father killed at such a young age, our protagonist/antagonist doesn't really have a name. Throughout most of the game he is referred to as "Starkiller", but that is more a code-name than anything else. He's also known as "The Apprentice", however, by the end of the game, he is really just referred to as "him", which is unfortunate because his actions lead to some of the biggest story arcs in the Star Wars saga.
He's still hunting the now recluse Jedi who have gone into hiding after Anakin Skywalker turned to the Dark Side and hooked up with Senator Palpatine (aka The Emperor) to wipe out the Jedi once and for all and control the Galaxy. His quest has brought him to Kashyyk, home-world to the Wookie race and a great place to start toying with Euphoria, DMM and Havok (with a little help from The Force).

While it should be one of the greatest moments in gaming - playing as Darth Vadar, all powerful - it's unfortunately nothing spectacular. To begin with, his CG intro reveals a clunky, robotic walk as he descends the walkway of an Imperial Shuttle (which brings initial fears one of the elements of the game most fans are going to be looking forward to just isn't up to scratch). Sizing up the conflicted Kashyyk, Vader does look reasonably cool, and once you take control of him things do begin to look up.

As Vader you'll walk along fairly linear paths as you hunt your rogue Jedi, but not before countless Wookies throw themselves at you like so many bowled cricket balls in the practice nets. The obvious reaction to this is to use The Dark Side to teach these hairy menaces what the cost of attacking the purported "chosen one" is (in this case, usually a crushed trachea).

As has been promised, you can fling Wookies off into the blue yonder with Force Push (they may even be collected by a TIE Fighter mid-flight), crush their throats with Vader's coveted Force Choke, lift and impale them with Saber Fling as well as much, much more. You do feel utterly powerful, with numerous monstrous Wookies surrounding you and not an ounce of HP desperation on the radar. A simple tap of a button, based on your own sickly murderous choice, will dispatch one or all of your enemies with barely a dint in Vadar's black visage to be seen.

Finding your target reveals how the boss encounters in the game will work, and I have to admit it's not only disappointing, but also fundamentally flawed. The camera is now panned back to as broad a view of the immediate area as possible, and you and your foe face off in an almost 2D-like realm. You'll still have full control of all your abilities, but you're confined to a tiny space for the duration of the battle (with annoying camera restraints, which makes aiming very difficult). Once you've beaten your enemy to a near pulp, the game kicks in a very forgiving QTE (Quick Time Event) situation, which delivers the awesomely animated, scripted and choreographed final blow. Job done, dust hands, move on with story.

And boy, what a story to move on with. After finding his rogue, Vader kills him upon discovering he's been hiding a very powerful son. Taking the boy under his wing as his secret apprentice, it's revealed the boy's place by Vader's side is to eventually take on the Emperor so Vader and he can rule the Galaxy together. Before this insidious turn of events though, he is sent on a handful of final training missions to destroy the last remaining Jedi, the first of which is a separatist Jedi general by the name of Rom Kotor (a nod to Knights of the Old Republic maybe?).

This is where the game begins proper, and the first thing you'll notice is a severe lack of power and ability. "Starkiller", as he is called, only has a handful of Force Powers at his disposal; Force Push and Force Lift, to be precise, and while they certainly do make do in the early stages (and it makes sense from a narrative point), it's still frustrating – leaving you definitely wanting more.

This is an area of the game I thought LucasArts kind of screwed up. You accrue Force Points to spend on varying abilities, affinities, combos and more. Now it's definitely worth your while to spend time upgrading your character, but the way in which it's done is very mechanical; breaking the game's overall immersion. An organic XP system with garnered abilities based on in-game actions - I feel - would have helped so much more with the suspension of disbelief. Moreover, the way in which you gather points is by finding "Holocrons", glowing cubes scattered about the levels. While overall it is functional and easy to use, having to seek out glowing cubes in the organic wastes of the planet Felucia just feels too manufactured - you're meant to be guided by The Force, yet instead you're forced to find pick-ups.

It takes at least three more levels before you begin to become really powerful, and in that time, the game's story seems to be flying on autopilot (after a very promising beginning) - not giving very much in the way of something to get excited about. But just as everything seems to becoming a bit tedious, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed kicks it all up a notch and suddenly you're not just a Sith Apprentice, you're a powerful kid with a clear mission. All you thought you knew has changed, and everything begins anew. Which side are you on and what's your place in all of this? When all of this comes crashing down, the gameplay levels almost become a tease, keeping you from that next story sequence just that little bit longer than you'd like.

What unfortunately sits juxtaposed to the incredibly awesome story then, is the frustration found at various points of broken gameplay. You are all powerful, but simple things like aiming a piece of debris at an enemy off in the distance (or an all-important boss) constantly fails due to either a poor aiming system or the lack of a semi dynamic camera system. The Apprentice can often times simply take too long to recover from a blast and is then constantly bombarded by any enemies aiming at him usually resulting in a frustrating and unwarranted death.

There are even moments of frivolous platforming where your double jump and dash simply aren't enough. Level design works in equal detriment to this and you'll constantly find yourself swearing at the screen in pure frustration.

It's the ebb and flow of The Force Unleashed though. You're a powerful Sith Apprentice with The Force more than on your side, but you're constantly battling poor level design, inconsistent mechanics in the camera, aiming or combo department and ill-balanced enemies who should be cowering at your powers but can instead block your every Lightsaber attack (seriously, there are even Storm Troopers immune to your Force Powers because of a Force Shield they have).

And from all of this stems my biggest problem with the game: the promise of playing as a Sith Lord and experiencing the power of The Force is cheapened because you're constantly reminded you're just playing a videogame.

What makes this constant reminder worse is the further you get into the game, the better the story becomes until ultimately you'll almost wish the two were separate entities.

Don't get me wrong, there are more than enough memorable gameplay moments throughout. Taking on a Bull Rancor, destroying countless Chicken Walkers and killing various Jedi among much more I don't want to spoil for you all created an awesome Star Wars experience on singular levels, but the definitive glue between each of these moments just wasn't what it should have been; leaving the legacy of the game as one with plenty of ambition, but never quite reaching the plateau it should have.

It also ultimately leaves the bridging tale between Episodes III and IV as the only real reason to put up with all the frustration, but true Star Wars fans will be more than thankful as a game that seems to be going nowhere not only manages to tie itself into the overall saga, but also sets itself up as possibly one of the most important Star Wars revelations ever crafted.

What we liked
  • Havok, DMM and Euphoria techs work well together
  • Possibly one of the coolest characters ever created for the Star Wars universe
  • Story is incredibly epic once it sets in
  • Visually appeasing
What we didn't like
  • Broken gameplay mechanics lead to much frustration
  • Too many Lucas moments that don't fit the original vision
  • Ill-balanced enemies
  • Some poor level design
  • Not enough overall freedom with your Force Powers
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 02:35pm 17/9/08
And from all of this stems my biggest problem with the game: the promise of playing as a Sith Lord and experiencing the power of The Force is cheapened because you're constantly reminded you're just playing a videogame.


don't suppose you've played this on wii ?
Posted 03:16pm 17/9/08
You can definitely see Lucas' horrible hand in the script in general, but Jedi knight/Outcast weren't exactly remembered for their tight storytelling :) The PSP version handles well enough given the system limitations - I've noticed several cases of slowdown (mostly on Felucia) which is almost purely due to too many things on screen + having a very active environment around you. It's something God of War PSP suffered from as well, so it's mostly forgivable. mostly.

Looking forward to getting the Wii version when it goes on sale tomorrow though.
Posted 03:40pm 17/9/08
I don't think I could enjoy a Star Wars game that didn't have Don Burke in it.
Posted 04:13pm 17/9/08
Lol, this game is on the App Store. Apparently you don't run, it runs, but you do gestures on the touch screen to do force powers... Sounds kinda lame.
Posted 05:45pm 17/9/08
Wait, are you saying you don't control which direction the guy goes?
Posted 05:51pm 17/9/08
Apparently not.
Posted 06:20pm 17/9/08
Posted 06:26pm 17/9/08
Meh, I got Real Football 09 (read: soccer) and its awesome. Best sport game I've played on iPhone by far.

Scotland was thrashing me then I pwnd them 3-nil woot.
Posted 06:28pm 17/9/08
this is gonna rock. less QQ f***.
Posted 06:42pm 17/9/08
overall the game is fun, abit harder then i thought it would be (which is a suprise, considering how easy i find games these days)

other then that, yeah story is abit ass as is the script.
would of prefered more sabre control then whats on offer, but i guess ill get the wii version for that.
Posted 06:58pm 17/9/08
when is wii version out?
Posted 10:10pm 17/9/08
Posted 11:03pm 17/9/08
the PC needs another good star wars game. i want a mix between kotor and jedi knight
Posted 11:52pm 17/9/08
On Monday morning a stormtrooper and two imperial guards were giving out a promotional dvd for the game at Martin Place station in Sydney

The Force Unleashed

The Force Unleashed promo

The DVD doubles as a 10% discount on the game at Game stores throughout NSW.
Posted 10:36am 19/9/08
bought this for the wii last night

it's pretty f***** rad apart from as my man steve says, the camera angle can be annoying

when you are fighting a boss though you can lock the camera on them (or any enemy) and the camera stays behind you and you look at them always

the force repulse is f***** siiiiiiiick
Posted 10:47am 19/9/08
Where's the swoop bikes? They didn't even go there on swoop bikes?
Posted 10:48am 19/9/08
is there co-op?
Posted 10:53am 19/9/08
no russ it's single player only apart from the dualing bit
Posted 11:02am 19/9/08
DAMN now i have to share with gf
Steve Farrelly
Posted 11:10am 19/9/08
I'm sure your mum won't mind ;)
Posted 01:37pm 19/9/08
i just killed the AT-ST last night

took me ages to work out to jab the controls in, in sequence as the control comes up on the screen to do the finishing move
Posted 08:59am 29/9/08
God I hate quicktime events; where's the fun in arbitrarily pressing unconnected buttons flashing up on the screen? They're not controls, they're just... it's like that old child's toy from the 80s where you had to hit coloured buttons in sequence.

It is NOT what videogames should be about. It was one of the stupidest parts of God of War, and it's the bit they've copied! Of all the parts of GoW to pinch...

As for the crap autosave system - artificially padding out the game by making you replay whole sections - cheap instant deaths a long way from an autosave, s*** targeting for the force powers...

An incredibly frustrating game. Gameplay design is appalling; the only thing saving it is some pretty levels (although the level design is pre-1996 - it's basically a corridor shooter) and the bridging story.

Wait till it's cheap or LucasArts will make more s*** games like this.
Posted 09:18am 29/9/08
Jeremy I respect your right to have an opinion but you're wrong. The quicktime events are fun. You can enjoy the awesome Jedi action moves which try to distract you from completing the quicktime sequences.

Getting the bosses down to 5% is the hard part. I like that the moves have been designed to use the wii controller's full capability and certain shockwave moves where you hit the ground or make a large swipe with your sabre require that swinging motion with the controller.

It would suck to not be playing this on wii.
Posted 09:40am 29/9/08
yeah it's certainly awesome on wii, forget playing it on anything else
Posted 10:57am 29/9/08
I haven't played this much but so far I've found myself just running and jumping past as many enemies as possible to get through levels.
If I stop to try and take them on it usually takes about 10mins to get through an area because more and more guys keep coming out of nowhere and if you die you have to wait for what seems like forever for it to reload. It definitely is a frustrating game, but I want to finish it eventually.

Posted 11:00am 29/9/08
? Why are finding it so hard?

Most enemies can be quickly taken out with a quick force-pickup and through at another enemy. A few swings of the saber, a push here, meh heaps of bad guys killed.

I find it a little too easy :(
Posted 11:24am 29/9/08
If I stop to try and take them on it usually takes about 10mins to get through an area because more and more guys keep coming out of nowhere and if you die you have to wait for what seems like forever for it to reload. It definitely is a frustrating game, but I want to finish it eventually.

I die very rarely and i am not very experienced at these games. Whenever health gets low I just run around for one of those red life vials.

I don't really know what you mean by dieing and replaying long areas, as that hasn't happened to me.

But I kill everything I can find for the XP to unlock new force powers. Why would you avoid XP??
Posted 01:44pm 29/9/08
The targeting in this game is seriously f***ed. SO many times I've found myself trying to target this massive f*****g rancor or AT-ST in front of me, only to electrocute a box to the side.

Also, being rag-dolled and sniped while you lay there unable to move, and being knocked over again before you even get control of your character back s**** me to tears. As fun as parts of the game is, the designers were seriously f***ed in the head.

I haven't tried the Wii version yet. I'm hoping to get a copy of it from work for free so I don't have to shell out.
Posted 03:59pm 29/9/08
O, I'm using the Wii version and it hasn't suffered from those problems.. at least not for me.
Posted 05:25pm 29/9/08
Maybe the Wii has been tweaked to be easy mode. This game is pretty frustrating on the 360.

Can't target, the camera is retarded especially for their choice of little puzzles (vertical but you can't look up). Also the "action sequences" kind of suck - I want to watch the awesomeness not the bottom of the screen for the next unrelated button to pop up.
Posted 07:07pm 29/9/08
you can look up, well i know you can on the wii

it sounds like total ass with a controller, it's awesome with the wii you just aim with the nunchuck, just twist around with the control knob
Posted 07:59pm 06/10/08
Maybe Krome did something right for once?
Posted 08:25pm 06/10/08
For once? They're what, the biggest games developer in the country?
Posted 08:26pm 06/10/08
I got a bit bored of it, it's a bit reptitive. I keep pluggin' away.
Posted 08:53pm 06/10/08
have you finished it yet infi?

awesome story
Posted 08:57pm 06/10/08
I finished it a little while ago, half-way through I thought they were going to break the Star Wars lore, but it was OK. The ending was OK.
Posted 08:58pm 06/10/08
well it couldn't have really gone any other way, not like he could have won
Posted 10:34pm 06/10/08
no i haven't finished it, it just gets a bit boring.
Posted 10:49pm 06/10/08
Maybe the Wii has been tweaked to be easy mode. This game is pretty frustrating on the 360.

It's probably just less broken on the Wii.
Posted 08:40am 07/10/08
Without having played any other version I think the force powers would be far more intuitive an easier to control on the Wii. It is quite easy to run along a platform, pick-up and throw enemies over the edge as you run without much of a thought. Just the way it should be.
Posted 10:16am 07/10/08
Holy s***, I can see Steve's avatar!
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