Star Wars: The Force Unleashed takes place between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. It tells the story of Darth Vader and his secret apprentice, Starkiller, whom he trains to defeat the Emperor. The game begins with Vader's initial contact with Starkiller as a child and then picks up again when he is now a young man serving under Vader, hunting for rogue Jedi that fled the order after the Emperor executed the order 66 which killed most Jedi members. As the story advances, the formation of the Rebel Alliance is depicted, interwoven with Starkiller's tale and adds back-story to the events in Episode IV.
A demo for the game was released on August 21st, for both Xbox Live and the PSN, and the full game was released on September 16th in North America, the 18th in Japan, and the 19th in Europe and Australia. In its first month on the market, the game sold over 1.1 million units across all releases and by February 2010 the game had sold over 7 million units.
On July 24th, at Comic-Con 2009, Lucasarts announced a re-release of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed called The Ultimate Sith Edition. This edition includes the original game as well as the downloadable content also announced at the conference (see the Downloadable Content section) for the game. This edition also includes a temporary exclusive additional mission which was later released for download and was released in the holiday season of 2009 on both PS3 and 360 and for the first time on PC and Mac.
The development team's initial goal was "kicking ass with the Force" resulting in a strong emphasis on those powers associated with it. As one example, the player can grab TIE Fighters from the sky and hurl them at his opponents. Each console release was developed with its own unique feel in mind. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game are considered the lead releases and feature numerous pieces of advanced technology that simulate character movement and material physics. These versions allow enemies to intelligently grasp onto ledges while falling and let the player realistically damage surfaces like metal, glass, and wood, although the implementation of these technologies is somewhat sparse, especially with Digital Molecular Matter, the materials simulation. The Wii version has the Wii Remote control the lightsaber, while the Nunchuk deals with Force abilities. Also unique to the Wii is a two-player duel mode with multiple selectable characters from the Star Wars universe including Luke Skywalker himself. The PSP version lets the player relive historic battles from the films and will include a four-player versus mode. Also, the Wii, PlayStation 2, and PSP games lets the player take on Jedi trials.
Starkiller, while under the employment of Vader, is directed to leave no witnesses to his mission, lest the Emperor and his spies discover Vader's secret apprentice. Starkiller utilizes the Force to a degree never before seen in Star Wars media, although the original animated Clone Wars miniseries was close, and was cited as an inspiration by the developer team. Starkiller can tear apart his environment and utterly destroy his enemies to accomplish his objective, although the environments are not entirely destructible, and the entire game is quite linear.
Costumes and Lightsabers are customizable, along with a rudimentary upgrade system for Force Powers and Force Talents. Every level comes with a unique costume which can be equipped at any time after that level is beaten. Lightsabers can be customized with both a color crystal and a Power Crystal, which will give the blade different attributes, such as occasionally dealing lightning damage. These Lightsaber crystals are found in holocrons hidden throughout the game.
- Force Grip is Starkiller's first ability, a basic telekinesis power, with which he can grab and manipulate objects and enemies in any way he pleases. It is surprisingly satisfying to dangle people over a chasm and then simply let go.
- Force Push is exactly what you'd imagine it to be: it pushes stuff away from you. It's not very effective on inanimate objects, but if used against enemies it can send them flying away violently dozens of feet, likely killing them if they hit a wall forcefully enough or fall into an abyss.
- Force Lightning, the signature Sith ability, is obvious as well. Starkiller can stun and damage enemies by hitting them with bolts of electricity emanating from his fingertips. It is a highly effective offensive power, though it can also be used to either fry or reanimate electronic machinery.
- Saber Throw is another highly damaging power. If Starkiller is holding an enemy with Force Grip, he can opt to throw his lightsaber at the defenseless target, impaling him upon impact. A nice bonus is that the lightsaber will also greatly damage all enemies unlucky enough to be in the path of its arc.
- Force Repulse, one of Starkiller's signature moves, is a more defensive power, although it can be applied offensively as well. Starkiller expels the Force from within his body in every direction simultaneously, creating a rapidly-expanding "bubble" that knocks away all enemies close to him. It is a great power to use when he is surrounded, or when he finds himself on a bridge of some kind, as that allows him to push off multiple enemies with a single attack.
- Lightning Shield is actually a "stat-boosting" power. In effect, it makes Starkiller tougher, so that attacks will damage him less. At the same time, it will up the damage output of every lightsaber swing he deals out to enemies.
At the start of the game as part of an interactive tutorial designed to acclimate the player to the basic controls, the player takes the role of Darth Vader as he hunts down one of the last Jedi masters who has fled to the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk. A battle erupts and as Vader is about to deliver the killing blow with his lightsaber, it is suddenly snatched away from his hand. Previously, Vader had sensed a presence that was very powerful in the Force and now discovers that it is the small child that now holds his lightsaber. Vader casually kills the Jedi, who is actually the child's father using the Force and plots to make his son his secret apprentice after killing the Imperials that happen to stumble upon the scene to protect his secret.
The story jumps and a decade or so later, the child has now grown into a young man trained by Vader in the ways of the Force, showing exceptional ability and is codenamed Starkiller as he pursues his master's agenda throughout the galaxy. His first real assignment against the Jedi is to kill a Jedi Master, General Rahm Kota, who is in the midst of sabotaging a Tie Fighter production facility in the hopes of drawing Vader out instead. In order to ensure that his secret remains safe, Vader instructs his apprentice to kill anyone he encounters such as the Stormtroopers that he would have otherwise expected to be his allies.
The player is also ferried about the galaxy on a prototype ship equipped with a cloak, the Rogue Shadow, piloted by the young and beautiful Juno Eclipse. She also serves as Starkiller's main love interest in the title and eventually questions his motives for pursuing Vader's secret plan. Another key character is a droid named Proxy who also serves as Starkiller's trainer as he has been programmed with holographic technology and the skills necessary to impersonate a variety of deadly foes in order to try his best to kill his master. In addition, characters like Leia and Bail Organa will play important roles as the game covers the formation of the Rebel Alliance.
After the apprentice completes these missions and returns to Vader, he is informed that the Emperor's spies have seen him in action and Vader is forced to kill him before the Emperor in order to prove his loyalty. However, it is a ruse as Vader later "rebuilds" Starkiller and readies him for his true mission: destroying the Emperor. In order to draw the Emperor's suspicion away from Vader and to distract his forces, Vader tasks Starkiller to form an army to oppose the Emperor. Rahm Kota, who he had thought dead due to his fall from the orbital platform where they had first dueled, is still alive and Starkiller finds him on Bespin, convincing him to join him despite his blindness and aid in building the Alliance. Eventually, Starkiller manages to bring together the other founding members of the Rebel Alliance and begins to feel empathy for their struggle as their goals coincide with his mission against the Emperor. After destroying an Imperial shipyard responsible for the construction of Star Destroyers in order to convince the founding members of the Rebel Alliance that it is possible to stand up against the Emperor, they secretly convene on a snow covered world and wish to name Starkiller as the leader of the Alliance.
It is in that moment that Starkiller is betrayed by Vader whom he had expected to leave him to fulfill his plan with the newly formed Alliance with whom he now feels some companionship. Arriving with a fleet of Star Destroyers, Vader congratulates Starkiller as he places the rebel leaders under arrest. In anger, Starkiller asks why he is doing this when this would have been their best chance to destroy the Emperor to which Vader replies: "Not with you", before being Force thrown to the edge of a cliff. Before Vader can kill him, he is saved by Proxy when he attacks Vader as Obi-Wan Kenobi. After having easily dispatched Proxy, Vader turns around to find that Starkiller has escaped him.
Starkiller is rescued by Juno Eclipse and he vows revenge against Vader for his betrayal at which point Juno Eclipse pointedly tells him that he has to make a decision of his own as to whether he should finish what he has started with the Rebel Alliance or flee. He decides to confront Vader and rescue the rebel leaders. In a vision, he sees a sphere, a humongous space-station. Upon arriving at the Death Star, which was still under construction at the time, Juno finally lets herself go and kisses Starkiller. After that, he takes a leap of faith and starts fighting his way towards the emperor. His search even takes him through the laser-focusing tubes, which would later be the cause of great pain for the rebels in Episode VI. He eventually finds his way to the imperial throne room, where the emperor is threatening to torture and kill the other rebels. However, he is confronted by Vader first. He bests his former master, severely damaging him, but gets distracted when he sees Kota attacking the emperor. The blind Jedi is no match for Sidious, and Bail Organa implores Starkiller to help him.
At this point, the player can make a moral choice, which alters the ending.
This ending is considered the canonical ending as it is also the ending that appears in the graphic novel adaptation of the story. In this ending, Starkiller manages to defeat the Emperor. Before delivering the final blow, Rahm Kota urges him against giving into his hate. Starkiller considers his words and stays his hand despite the Emperor's goading. It is at that point that the Emperor's guards storm into the chamber and the Emperor himself stands up as if unfazed by the previous battle and attempts to kill the rebel leaders. Starkiller defends them and yells for them to escape as he locks Force powers with the Emperor. The rebels make their escape thanks to Juno Eclipse and an explosion of Force energy fills the chamber. In the end, Vader walks over to the corpse of Starkiller and announces that he is dead. The Emperor does not see this as a victory, however, knowing that Starkiller has become far more powerful than they had wished for him to be and that his death will also serve as a rallying cry to the Alliance. He tasks Vader with hunting down the rebel leaders and exterminating them at all cost lest what they have "unwittingly created" will become their undoing.
Juno Eclipse is back on Kashyyyk along with the other founding members of the Alliance where they formally declare their rebellion and choose a symbol to represent themselves, the very symbol that had been seen at the start of the game on a flag hung outside of the hut where Vader had cornered the Jedi Master who was Starkiller's father. Rahm Kota stands with Juno as she looks up at the night sky and wonders about Starkiller and why Kota had trusted him if he knew it was him despite his blindness. Kota replies that he knew that there was hope because he could feel that Starkiller held onto the one thing that enabled him to redeem himself: her.
The traditional Star Wars theme plays during the end credits if this ending is taken.
This ending is not considered the canonical ending. In this ending, the player chooses revenge by choosing to fight Darth Vader's shredded self. Despite his injuries, Vader continues to fight using everything at his disposal. Starkiller eventually kills him and snatches Vader's lightsaber, impaling him through the back and the chest with it and his own, killing Anakin Skywalker. The Emperor compliments him on his success and tells him that Vader was only a "shell" of what he once was and that Starkiller deserves to stand at his side. To prove his loyalty, he tells Starkiller to kill Rahm Kota who had attempted earlier to stand up to the Emperor. Pretending that he is about to decapitate him, Starkiller raises his lightsaber only to turn it against the Emperor at the last second. Expecting this, the Emperor blocks him, and hurls him away with the Force. Juno Eclipse in the Rogue Shadow appears outside the dome to rescue him and the rebels. The Emperor uses the Force to bring the Rogue Shadow down and through the dome, apparently crushing Starkiller and killing everyone else.
After this, a scene of Starkiller on an operating table is shown, very similar to the table where Darth Vader was made in Episode III. Starkiller is covered in a mask with a T-shaped visor, and parts of him are clearly mechanical. The Emperor tells Starkiller how he had to potential to replace Vader, but now he was just as broken and crippled as Vader. Palpatine says he will use Starkiller until a stronger person comes along, then Starkiller will die. The scene ends with a shot from inside Starkiller's helmet, as a medical droid stabs a needle into his eye.
The Emperor's theme plays during the end credits if this ending is taken.
Following the official launch of The Force Unleashed, less than a month later an announcement was made about upcoming DLC for the flagship versions of the game, the 360 and PS3 versions. This DLC includes the Jedi Temple level, which is available in the Wii, PS2, and PSP versions of the game at launch, but not the 360 and PS3 versions. This level fits into the storyline shortly before Starkiller's mission to the TIE Fighter Factory, and has Starkiller investigating the Jedi temple to learn more about his past. There are two downloadable character skin packs, consisting of classic Star Wars characters and favorites of the development teams. On July 24th, at Comic-Con 2009, Lucasarts announced another piece of downloadable content to be released in the holiday season of 2009 on both PS3 and 360. The new DLC continues the single player story adding where the original game left off.
The Tatooine Downloadable Content was released on August 27, 2009 as the first of two parts which occur in an "Infinities" storyline in an alternate history where the Starkiller kills Darth Vader and becomes the Emperor's assassin.
The second part of the story, which takes place on Hoth, was originally exclusive to the Ultimate Sith Edition of the game but was later made available for download similar to the other downloadable content.
Character Pack #1
Character Pack #2
The skins were chosen in part with feedback from fans of the game.
Before The Force Unleashed reached its final state, various early ideas for the game cast the player as a Wookiee, a bounty hunter, a smuggler, Darth Maul (who makes an appearance in the game in the form of a hologram generated by PR0XY), or "the last Skywalker". In April 2005, the development team received word from George Lucas mentioning the idea of Darth Vader having a secret apprentice, and asked them to see if they could tie the two Star Wars film trilogies together. A PC version was said to not be in production because the game would be too specs-intensive for the average PC, according to Lucasarts. This changed when Lucasarts announced that the Ultimate Sith Edition would becoming to PC and Mac alongside its console release.
PC Gaming Alliance Criticism
LucasArts came under fire from the PC Gaming Alliance, more specifically, president Randy Stude in October 2008, due to the lack of a PC release for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. LucasArts stated that the reason was that they didn't want to release a game on the PC that some users would only be able to run on sub-par settings. Stude attacked Lucas Arts' reasoning saying:
"That's not an educated answer. In the last several years there have been at least 100 million PCs sold that have the capabilities or better of an Xbox 360. It's ridiculous to say that there's not enough audience for that game potentially and that it falls into this enthusiast extreme category when ported over to the PC. That's an uneducated response."
Stude went on to further attack the quality of LucasArts' games:
"LucasArts hasn't made a good PC game in a long time," he said. "That's my opinion. They make some pretty good games for the Wii, you know those little sticks you wave in the air, that seems like a natural fit for a lightsaber game, sure. But I think the last good PC game they made was probably Jedi Knight 2, and even their strategy games weren't that great. So I can understand why they would make that call."
The game was eventually released on the PC platform during November / December 2009 just over one year after the game's initial release.
The game makes use of the Euphoria Engine from NaturalMotion that was highlighted in Grand Theft Auto IV. In place of canned animations programmed in response to scripted events, NPCs will react to force powers with some of the most intelligent responses ever designed. Stormtroopers will grab on to anything they can when flung by the protagonist's power, even each other. They will dodge, fall down, get back up, throw up their arms to shield themselves, and give some real credence to the term artificial intelligence. Examples of this technology can be found here: http://www.naturalmotion.com/euphoria.htm
Used in many games, Havok offers a better ridged structure to characters and objects. The term ragdoll physics is used to refer to how a character impacts and reacts to objects which offers more realistic body movements as well as more solid feel to objects and more accurate behavior.
A middleware physics engine created by Pixelux. Similar to Havok, DMM offers more realistic behaviors to objects and is moreover used in object reactions from damage to an object such as splintering of wood to how foliage reacts to objects that interact with it. While Havok is used more for character model behaviors, DMM is used more in the world and environment behavior and in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, these two have been combined to facilitate the heavy use of the force powers in the game. Although it is indeed present on some in-game objects, the majority of the geometry is not Digital Molecular Matter enabled, and is instead just static polygons that do not react.
In the past other video games have either used a Havok based system or Euphoria and manually filled in the blanks the two have individually, though in the case of The Force Unleashed, both are combined to offer realistic behavior and realistic structure to the models of the game which, when combined with DMM characters can be clinging on to each other as they smash through glass and objects in a more realistic way.
- Vader's secret apprentice is also a guest character in Soul Calibur IV along with Yoda and Vader.
- The name "Starkiller" was George Lucas' originally planned last name for franchise hero, Luke Skywalker.
- In Ozzik Sturn's trophy room on Imperial Kashyyyk, there are heads of the animals from the Attack of the Clones arena scene, as well as Jar-Jar frozen in carbonite, the sewer creature from a New Hope, Mynocks from Empire Strikes back, and a Krayt Dragon head.
The Force Unleashed was a huge project for Lucasarts, and represents a major part of the Star Wars timeline. In order to fully promote this new chapter, a multimedia project was built up around The Force Unleashed, not dissimilar to the one done for Shadows of the Empire in the 1990's. With the goal of promoting both the game and the new story events, a book was written by Sean Williams retelling the story of the game, a graphic novel was published, a webstrip related to the story was published, a line of action figures featuring Force Unleashed characters was released, and a tabletop book, The Art and Making of The Force Unleashed was released, which focused on the process of creating the game and telling it's story.
The story of 'The Force Unleashed' was unleashed a month before the actual game hit the shelves. In essence, the game was not yet available for sale but the plot and story was for anyone with $15.95 (or possibly an internet connection and dubious nature). The comic is considered to follow the cannon version of the events that Starkiller was apart of. It was Printed by Dark Horse Comics, penned by Haden Blackman with Art and Colors by Brian Ching, Bong Dazo, Wayne Nichols and Michael Atiyeth. The comics summation on the back page reads as follows.
Now it can be told: after the birth pangs of the Empire, Darth Vader took on a secret apprentice. Sent on deadly missions to track down and destroy the Jedi, this apprentice helped shape on the darkest times in the history of the galaxy. Revealed here are his origins, the extraordinary missions he undertook, and the awesome decision he was forced to make that launched the Jedi, the Sith, and the Empire into their fateful future. An original graphic novel based upon the new Lucas Arts Game!
The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is an art book released to coincide with the game. The book is 168 pages and features 300 pieces of concept art, two packs of character cards and of course, details on the making of the game. The box is divided into six chapters: Concept, Story Approval, Characters, Environments, Technology, and Milestones. The book tells the story of the games development, from the initial search for a premise, through pre-vis videos, and finally through the technology and art that was chosen to be used in the final game.
PC Minimum System Requirements
- Operating System: Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP2. Windows 7
- Processor: 2.4 GHz Dual Core Processor (Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon X2)
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Hard Drive: 23.8 GB 1 GB Swap File
- Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
- Video Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible 256 MB Video Cardwith Shader 3.0 support Video Card (ATI): Radeon HD 2900 Video Card (Nvidia): Geforce 8800
- Optical Drive: 8X DVD-ROM
Recommended System Requirements
- Operating System: Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista SP2. Windows 7
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core 5200
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Hard Drive: 23.8 GB 1 GB Swap File
- Sound Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible sound card
- Video Card: DirectX 9.0c compatible 512 MB Video Card (ATI): Radeon HD 4870 Video Card (Nvidia): Geforce 9800 GT Memory:
- Optical Drive: 8X DVD-ROM
There was an N-Gage port of The Force Unleashed for Nokia's downloading service. You can download the ROM here:
This is a list of codes which can be used within the password section of the game.
|GRANDMOFF||Unlocks all costumes|
|KATARN||Max all force powers|
|TYRANUS||Unlock all force powers|
|VERGENCE||Unlimited force power|
|SPEEDER||1,000,000 force points|
|LIGHTSABER||Your lightsaber one hit kills all normal enemies|
|HIDDENFEAR||Unlock Darth Phobos|
|PAUAN||Unlock Darth Desolus|
|ACOLYTE||Unlock Asajj Ventess|
|MARAJADE||Unlock Mara Jade|
|KORRIBAN||Unlock Sith stalker armour|
|NERFHERDER||Unlocks Hans Solo costume|
|STORMTROOP||Unlocks Navy Commando costume|
|JEDIMASTER||Unlocks Mace Windu costume|
|T16WOMPRAT||Unlocks Luke Skywalker costume|