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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Sep 16, 08 (released)
|» All About Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on ActionTrip|
While the enthusiasm for Lord of the Rings and Star Wars has certainly grown dimmer over the past few years, publishers are assiduously trying to cash in on both licenses. Now, we cannot deny that LucasArts put money and effort behind some of the best games ever made, but in truth it's been ages since they offered a decent tribute to their beloved Star Wars franchise. For LucasArts, the recipe was straightforward, especially when industry tendencies revolved around space shooters. As soon as the genre started fading, the company went back to the drawing board, turning to new genres and fresh game technologies. Eventually, this led them to the concepts behind Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
The Force Unleashed tells the story of Darth Vader's secret apprentice, Starkiller. Bridging the gap between Episodes III and IV, the narrative explains want happened on some of the planets and what certain key characters were up to at the time. Starkiller is the central role in this one, of course. However, it is events surrounding Darth Vader that really tie all the threads together. Without spoiling the plot, we have to say that the writers did an excellent job of weaving all the new characters into the setting. At the outset, Vader orders Starkiller to tie up a few loose ends for him. He must train hard and continue to rely on the devastating powers of the Force before he can fully embrace the Dark Side. In the process, he is instructed to hunt down the few Jedi who survived the Emperor's Order 66.
The storyline unfolds in such a way that leaves players wanting to know more. It's well-written and with enough twists to keep you on your toes the entire time. For me, the relationships between the characters sort of sparked a few geekish sentiments, reminding me of the old SW trilogy (Episodes IV, V and VI). It's a nice tale altogether and it stands on its own. More importantly, it fits into the Star Wars saga, giving us a better picture of what occurred between the movies Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The cool cut-scenes perpetuate the cinematic feel as you play. Things were, as always, spiced up with John Williams' inspiring Star Wars themes (a few new ones are in there as well), in addition to first-rate sound effects. You simply cannot deny the superb productions values, as with most LucasArts' games.
As the very title of the game suggests, the idea is to allow players to experiment with Force-based skills and combat techniques. The amount of moves your character can learn is huge. You'll be able to execute powerful attacks by combining and improving basic Force abilities such as Force Grip, Force Lightning, Force Push and so on. In time, you'll have access to complex and highly lethal attacks that give you a chance to manipulate numerous objects in the environment and even use the bodies of enemies as weapons. All this works okay in practice, but it's still far from what we initially expected.
First off, the combination of three powerful technologies have laid the groundwork for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - the Havok physics, DMM (Digital Molecular Matter) middleware physics engine and the animation engine Euphoria. Putting all these together and making them work in perfect harmony must've been a major challenge. From our experience, they've pulled it off in certain aspects, but haven't quite pushed the envelope in terms of gameplay.
When it comes to combat, the game can provide hours of decent entertainment, in addition to the usual button-mashing fest. Other than that, there's virtually nothing we haven't seen before in other Star Wars games the likes of Jedi Knight series or Knights of the Old Republic. You fight your way through hordes of enemies, bosses and semi-bosses, accumulating enough points in order to upgrade Force powers. This, naturally, leads to combos and there are plenty of them that need to be memorized if you want to get the real action going. If you don't, it's back to the old, uneventful button-mashing, which often results in a quick, albeit noble death.
Compelling characters, well-written narrative, cool force powers, great atmosphere;
Serious bugs haven't been ironed out, contrary to expectations, this isn't the pinnacle of Star Wars in gaming.