For fans of the critically-acclaimed Star Wars franchise, you may be upset to know that the Lucas braintrust decided to amend their story with a new apprentice for Darth Vader. But for the truly enthusiastic gamer, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a thrilling moment full of amazing displays of power and destruction, that could’ve been great, had it not hyperwarped pass all the good stuff too soon.
Once you hear that classic John Williams theme to open Force Unleashed, admittedly, your heart will skip a beat. Nerds and newcoming fans alike are mystified by the ideology of Star Wars and its classic good-versus-evil tale. In this game, you’ll find that it delivers both. This title represents a serious step forward in storytelling for the famed franchise (probably because George Lucas didn’t write it…).
The artwork is another big proponent to Star Wars success as a video game. Beautiful and lush, the concepts behind the visuals instill the right moods needed in each level. From the junkyards of Raxus Prime to Felucia, coasting through space with the greatest of ease will certainly catch your eyes. You play Galen Marek, aka Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice (and Soul Calibur IV cameo player). With the Clone Wars now ended, Vader sends you on the hunt for the last of the remaining Jedi. Multiple plot twists ensue as you interact with Vader and some friendly and not-so-friendly faces, making this game remarkably intimate.
In due time, you’ll grow fond of Marek and his companions, as their moral conflicts carry a lot of weight. You truly feel like a powerful Dark Jedi, equipped with a variety of force powers and lightsaber slashes to make rebels and imperial foes fear you, alike. Bad points are given to developer LucasArts, as they fail to string all this together into one smooth, cohesive gameplaying experience to keep the momentum going. The targeting mechanism which controls the force is problematic, making it easy to grab something other than what you needed and even more easier to throw it at something that what you intended. The game’s camera is also a nuisance, as getting into a smaller space means claustrophobic angles for this third-person action game.
Weird glitches force this game to come off with a variety of mixed results. Boss encounters elicit some larger-than-life sequences that feature all the acrobatics and pain-inducing attacks that you’d expect from a Dark Jedi. But while they require you to pull platforms or bend metal slabs, the buggy application of your force may make that a headache inducer. There are moments of sheer awe that are ruined by a broken feedback system, bringing what should’ve been Force Unleashed’s most exhiliarating level to a grinding halt.
All in all, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a well-conceived game with its most interesting storyline to date playing itself out on your gaming platform. If you have the strength and will to resist the Dark Side (throwing the game out of a window due to frustration), then this is one to have for anyone who’s a fan of the series and wants to continue to navigate the Lucas universe.