Ever since I first heard word of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, the Star Wars geek inside me could not help but be over-the-top excited for what looked to be the best Star Wars game in a very, very, long time. And overall, it does not dissapoint. There are weaknesses, but those weaknesses are not so overbearing that they detract from the overall experience. Any Star Wars fan will love everything about this game. So if you fall into that category, there is no reason to read any further. Anyone who can appreciate a good story, will
love this game. However, anyone coming into TFU looking for a great action experience may end up a little dissapointed.
The story takes place between Revenge of the Sith (Episode III) and A New Hope (Episode IV, or for the elders, Star Wars), and follows the story of Darth Vader's secret apprentice Galen Marek, referred to in game as Starkiller. Starkiller is tasked with the extermination of the remaining Jedi following the execution of Order 66 (for those of you who are less informed on the events of Star Wars, Order 66 was the secret plan that when enacted, would order all clones to kill their Jedi leaders.) Along for the ride are Proxy, a droid with an odd sense of dedication to his master, and Juno, an experienced Imperial pilot tasked with ferrying Starkiller to and from his objectives.
The Force Unleashed is a great looking game. It shines most during cinematics, where you are able to see the meticulous amount of detail that went into the facial animation for the main characters. Starkiller is voiced and modeled after the real-life actor Samuel Witwer, which results in a believable perfomance that is enjoyable and authentically Star Wars all the way through. The degree of quality in the enviroments can vary however, ranging from spectacular and stunning (Raxus Prime), to bland and boring (Felusia). However, the degree of interaction with your enviroments is enhanced like no other game to come before it, thanks to the combined power of the Euphoria engine (which can also be seen in Grand Theft Auto IV) and, premiering for the first time in TFU, Digital Molecular Matter. For those of you who don't know, DMM is an engine designed to replicate the real-world behaviour of various materials inside of video games. In other words, wood splinters, metal bends and warps, glass shatters, and so on. I felt that DMM wasn't used as well or as often as it was first said to, and when it was used, I felt that the same action could just have easily been animated; and even sometimes felt myself speculating as much.
Being a Star Wars game, one has to expect amazing sound quality, and TFU does not fail to deliver. All of the voice acting from the main cast is spectacular, aiding the game's movie-like feel. All of the music is standard to the franchise, the usual orchestra pieces along with the excellent title-specific theme.
The gameplay it-self is where TFU starts to falter. Marred by a lack-luster camera and targeting system, that chooses for itself which enemy, object, or switch you are targeting (most times doing a poor job). However, after some time with the game, the player will warm up to the system, begin to understand how it works, and even how they must play to get around it; such as using more area-of-effect moves like force push and lightning, and reacting quickly with whatever you happen to pick up instead of trying to target something specific. While not a perfect way to play, it works. The one area I found most satisfying was the boss battles. They each require specific strategies and inteligent use of available force powers to succeed; and they all end spectacularly, leaving you feeling immensely satisfied.
Gamers farmiliar with the God of War franchise will feel right at home with The Force unleashed. The upgrade screen fuctions very similarly to the one in GoW, with the player spending points in different areas to upgrade whichever skills they choose. The game also features timed button presses during interactive cinematics, during sequences where the player would be unable to excute such actions with the in-game controls.
Overall, The Force Unleashed DOES satisfy. All of the die-hard Star Wars fans will love this game. However, this is not the next KOTOR. If you are looking for a game with cinema-quality story-telling, moments that make you feel completely and totally unstoppable, and a fun combat system despite its flaws; then I urge you to give The Force Unleashed a try.