By MachoFantastico 2 Comments
Star Wars is huge, if you didn't already know. I don't think there is one person on the planet that hasn't heard of Star Wars, maybe one or two small tribes in the deepest areas of the Amazon rainforest but I'm sure even they have heard of Luke Skywalker. Who hasn't? so its no surprise that this endless money making Star Wars Universe as appeared in a huge number of games. I couldn't tell you them all as there have been simply to many and I'd probably bore you to death. But theres been a lot, and sadly only a few of these Star Wars games have been worthy of praise. For me, when I ever think of a Star Wars Videogame I think of the amazing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic series of games by Bioware Corp and Obsidian Entertainment. But for many gamers out there its Star Wars: TIE Fighter for PC. But whatever your favourite Star Wars game is, its fair to say that there have been very few top quality games related to the universe Director George Lucas created. I had lost hope in seeing LucasArts create a worthy Star Wars game again, until I saw The Force Unleashed. It's fair to say that The Force Unleashed is one of the best Star Wars games for a good long while, even with its bumps and scraps along the Dark roadside!
THE FORCE IS INDEED STRONG WITH THIS ONE!
The Force Unleashed does a lot of things well, but it's also continually hit by small gameplay issues and graphical glitches. The game uses the much talked about Eurphoria Engine found in Grand Theft Auto 4, and although its not as overall impressive as it was in GTA4. It still adds a lot to the game, even if characters (including yourself) can go flying across the Starship floor a little unrealisticly from time to time. That said, you'll defiantly have those 'WOW' moments as you force push a group of Stormtroopers into a starship window and see them get sucked through into deep dark space. Speaking of the force, one of the games biggest issues comes from using the power of the force. The games targeting system can be pretty poor at time, and although its possible to eventually master the system using the camera in the right method. It is still frustrating considering so much emphasis was put on the games use of force powers in advertisements and you'll lose patience with it when the targeting system causes you to die once or twice. But, I eventually did get use to it. The trick involves using the camera the correct way and simply requires you to do a little extra work in getting things at the correct angle for you to use force grip on an item or character. A much better system could have easily been worked into this game so such a system is disapointing to see. It also doesn't help that the target symbol can be hard to see on certain levels so your never totally sure what your targeting.
Another odd aspect of The Force Unleashed is lightsaber action, even though it looks great. You won't be doing one hit kills like the films might have you think. As I said in my preview of the game a few weeks back, you'll have to take down certain enemies using a variation of your force powers. You can of course use your lightsaber but some enemies require a little more thought to trully master them in battle. The game also includes a nice combo system that simply requires some button pressing, as you develop Starkiller through force levels you'll be able to access new powers and combo attacks so you can customize him to your style of play. For instance I found myself using force lightning quite often, so I decided to master that and it payed off later in the game against the much tougher enemies and machines you run into. But you can customize the character to your own personal play style, prefer using your lightsaber. Then simply concentrate your force points on new battle combos, you will unlock some combo's as you play through game so it does some of the growth for you automatically. But its a simple and nice system, some may find it a little to simple while others won't even want to mess with it. Sadly, The Force Unleashed is filled with one to many loading screens. It's a pain when leveling your character as you need to suffer a loading screen twice and it ends up removing you from the universe for a little to long. I can understand loading screens for cutscenes or certain other events but accessing my characters data and powers should be as simple as a single press of a button.
Another area that as recieved some criticism from the gaming media and gamers alike were the boss fights in which there are numourous. Some of that critism is more then fair and overall they will be a little hit or miss for most gamers. I personally thought most were a lot of fun and felt great, past games have shown that it's not exactly easy to do lightsaber battles right and for the most part, The Force Unleashed does more then a fine job. Some of that credit is due to the games amazing soundtrack featuring some of those classic Star Wars tunes we all know and love. You simply can't help but get bumped when John Williams's 'Dual of Fates' starts up on your surround sound system, that song would make painting a fence epic. It's fair to say that some boss levels will frustrate, such as taking down the Star Destroyer which took a little bit of time to actually figure out and wasn't the most satisfying experience I've had in gaming. But there are some great battles, one in peticular against a familar Star Wars face which I'll let you play the game to find out who. One aspect of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed that could very much possibly leave a bitter taste in your mouth are the timed action button pressing cutscenes, you know the type as we have seen it in many games since first really being introduced in the PS2 hit God of War. The cutscenes are pretty amazing, especially the lightsaber battles but the fact that they are even required lets the game down. They take you away from the experience of the game and the fact that you need to keep an eye out to see which button to press next means you can easily miss those spectacular battles in cutscenes. Its a gameplay feature that could possibly be a game breaker for some, personally I got use to them and enjoyed them at certain areas of the game. But it's a system that is starting to already feel outdated and it's odd that we haven't really found a more modern gameplay system that would see the gamer more involved in the action on the screen.
Star Wars: The Forced Unleashed features a large amount of collectables on every level, I will admit I didn't find them all but some of the Force Holocubes are often right in front of your face and easy to find, which is important considering they are required to find new items, build up your force points and a number of other things can be found in these yellow glowing cubes. There are also combat for of these, which give you a number of different enhancements including health drain which drains the health of nearby enemies and invincibility which makes you immune to damage for a short time. They defiantly help, especially in the later harder levels. Starkiller is also one smart dresser, as the game features a large number of different costumes for Darth Vader's Secret Apprentice. Every level Starkiller can be found in a new costume and you can also change Starkiller's cloths anytime during gameplay through the Select menu. I'd also say that the game requires multiple playthroughs to obtain all the costumes found in the game, the same can be said for the many lightsaber crystals and lightsaber powers obtainable throughout the game. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed isn't a long game, it'll last your around seven to eight hours. But the experience on offer is one of the best we have seen from a Star Wars game for a good long while, since the Knights of the Old Republic games I'd say and that's counting the game story aswell. You could easily playthrough mulltiple times but if your looking for a quick Star Wars fan run through then I'd recommend renting the game instead of paying the full retail price due to the shortness of the game's story. But I'm sure some Star Wars fans will happily purchase this game and from early sales reports I'd say that the game as done very well already. But I personally found that the game didn't offer enough worthy of it's full price tag.
OVERALLStar Wars: The Force Unleashed as it's problems, glitches and gameplay issues. But it's still one of the best Star Wars experiences found in the form of a videogame for a good long while. Not all is perfect, but it's all very solid despite some of the weird gameplay choices. The story, characters, sound and Star Wars atmosphere are all here and done superbly. The boss battles will be hit or miss depending on what type of Star Wars fan you are, but it defiantly as those Star Wars special moments and does great fan service throughout the experience. Graphically it looks great and sticks more to the art style found in the original films, great credit must be given to LucasArts for doing so and gameplay is a lot of fun helped by the games amazing physics system and beautiful graphics. Areas of the game can feel a little flat but for the most part there is a lot to like here if your a Star Wars fan or not. But it defiantly helps to be one.
Overall, the game looks simply stunning. Everything keeps to it's original Star Wars source and is a great tribute to the fantastic world George Lucas originallty created in the first set of three films. But some of the level design choices must be questioned as you'll find youself falling off one cliff to many and there are some frustrating graphically glitches throughout the world that can often affect gameplay.
For the most part Gameplay feels great, it's fast and enjoyable. But like a lot of aspects to TFU, it can be troubled by other issues surround the game such as the level design and targeting system which can take a bit of time to master and get use to. But theres still a lot of solid areas to point out, most importantly it's fun to pick up and play which is the most important of all when you think of what a videogame should provide. Boss battles will be hit or miss but are still pretty enjoyable and a better system could have been used instead of the action timed button pressing cutscenes found through the game but it's nothing that destroys your enjoyment of the game.
What can I say, simply stunning. You'd expect no less from LucasArt's considering there history of sound in films and TV, but there are some amazing classic Star Was tunes that only add to the experience. Voicework is wonderful throughout the experience with special mention to Sam Witwer who does the voice of Starkiller and also I believe Emperor Palpatine. He does a fantastic job to help bring Starkiller across to the gamer. It's hard to critise the sound, eveything sounds like it should do and in the right surround system can be simply brilliant.
It's kind of hard to justify paying the full retail price for The Force Unleashed, but if your a Star Wars nut then you've probably already payed the cash and bought it. But for those on the fence I'd recommend renting it instead, the game only lasts between seven or eight hours and although there are reasons to playthrough again because of the extra collectables and the game overall. It's still hard to justify the overall retail price compared to what you get from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED (360, PS3) GETS 4 STARS OUT OF 5.
Reviewed by Joseph Bayliss (True English Gent)