Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
- Brilliant story
- Its fun to toss your enemies around the room
- Short with little replayability
- Chain knockdowns!
- Game-crippling bugs
Reaching the end of the corridor the mysterious figure eyes the bulkhead in front of him for a second before unleashing a powerful burst of force energy. The door buckles inward as if it were made of paper. The sounds of battle can be heard coming from the docking bay that is now visible through the breach. A dazed Stormtrooper staggers to his feet raising an alarm as his squad mate turns away from the rebel invaders to fire on this new threat.
The dark apprentice charges into the room with unnatural speed, igniting his laser sword. With a quick swipe the lone Stormtrooper is dispatched and his lifeless body falls from the catwalk. Below, the battle rages between the Imperial forces and the rebel militia, both sides unaware that Death himself has just entered the room. The apprentice reaches out with the Force and grabs a hold of one of the TIE Fighters anchored to the docking bay rail system. With a wave of his arm the fighter crashes down on top of a squad of Stormtroopers. Within seconds, a second TIE Fighter ends the lives of several rebels. The combatants cease their battle to concentrate their fire on the Sith.
Leaping from the catwalk into the fray, the apprentice’s crimson lightsaber becomes a blur as its spins to counter the blaster bolts. The majority of the fire is harmlessly deflected while the remainder lances back to the source causing chaos and destruction. It becomes difficult to distinguish between rebel militia and Imperial Stormtrooper in the mayhem but that is of little concern to the Sith apprentice. His orders were clear, there were to be no witnesses.
The blaster fire slows as the majority of the targets have fallen either to the lightsaber or to their own reflected shots. The apprentice concentrates and suddenly one mercenary launches into the air, propelled by an unseen hand. As he hurtles by a Stormtrooper, both latch on to each other in a futile effort to save themselves. The Sith raises an eyebrow at the irony before hurling both into the forcefield standing between the docking bay and the cold vacuum of space.
Relative peace returns to the docking bay save the klaxon of the intrusion alarm and the sizzling of melting durasteel. The apprentice turns to face the blast door which had been sealed off during the battle. His mind wanders to his attractive new pilot and he is momentarily distracted by unfamiliar emotions. Suddenly, a shot rings out and there is a sharp, searing pain in the center of his back. The Sith spins to face one lone rebel sniper who had been hiding behind a demolished shuttle.
Rage builds inside the young Sith. With that one shot, every scar, every wound, and every failure during his years of training flares up to the surface. His master’s cruel visage is all he can see now and the punishment for failure had brought him to the brink of death on more than one occasion. There are no more distractions. There is only hate and anger. He can sense the rebel’s fear and it is like a drug.
Reaching out he grips his enemy with the Force, lifting him up high in front of him. With a flick of his wrist the lightsaber shoots out at blinding speed and sinks effortlessly into the rebel’s chest. The Sith, however, was not finished. Lightning arcs out from his fingertips and the lightsaber becomes a conduit for the energy. The body (because life had long since left the doomed rebel) twitched and writhed as the Sith watched. After several long moments he recalled the sword and allowed the body to crumple to the floor. Turning once again to the sealed blast door, the apprentice resumes his dark assignment. There is a Jedi somewhere beyond the door and he could not return to Darth Vader until he was dead.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was a game I’ve been anticipating for the majority of the year. I remember the manager of my local GameStop excitedly describing the teaser trailer he saw at a convention and I preordered the game on the spot. I still have a developer diary video on my 360 and in it the lead designer mentions the underlying mantra for the game: “Kicking someone’s ass with the Force.” Well, let me just tell you they followed that mantra to the letter! You do some pretty heinous acts of destruction to your enemies in this game. You can do everything I wrote about above and much, much more.
First, let me talk briefly about the story. The story is just plain excellent. The game has been given the nod to become official Star Wars canon and the quality really shows. Where were these guys when the prequels were being written!?! I actually looked forward to the cut-scenes between the missions. I don’t really want to go into detail about the plot itself and risk spoiling it for anyone. You are Darth Vader’s secret apprentice and you are being groomed to eventually help him take over the Empire. There are two endings to the game but you need only replay the last mission to see them both…and both are worth seeing. Only one ending is canon but I’ll let you figure out which one.
Another thing about the game is it is something you wouldn’t mind being a spectator while someone else plays it. The reason being that the boss battles end with you having to hit a series of specific keys that are called out at the bottom of the screen. Hit the keys successfully and you win the battle, otherwise you might have to beat them up a little before trying again. You’ll find yourself easily distracted by what’s going on on-screen. I had a hard time watching for the next button to press while also watching my character completely brutalize his enemies.
So, there has to be something bad about the game, right? Yeah, unfortunately there is. The game is short. Whether or not is seems short because you are having fun or it actually is short is debatable. I believe it is short. I finished the game in about nine or ten hours. There’s also very little replayability. You can go back and replay the game at the hardest difficulty, which unlocks when you complete it for the first time. There are also some training room challenges to do but that’s about it. Hopefully we’ll see something come in the form of downloadable content.
My second gripe has to do with getting knocked down. I can’t tell you how frustrating knockdowns are in this game. For all his power and agility, your character gets up like a ninety year-old convalescent. While you are slowly picking yourself off the floor your enemies are wailing on you and many times you get chain-knocked-down repeatedly until you die. You learn eventually to spam your Force dash key as soon as you get up on the off chance you make it to your feet before the next attack.
The Force is not strong with fellow Togger, Unk. He has experienced what has been dubbed the “Default Text Glitch.” You’ll know you have it when the text under your bonus objectives says “Default Text.” The game gets corrupted and your kills, bonus objectives and unlocks no longer count. There is apparently nothing you can do to circumvent it if you have it. Unk has also asked me to share with you his other personal frustration with the game:
“When playing various levels the game has a satanic knack of waiting until you have accomplished 9/10ths of the required goals then you will do something really difficult like ...oh I don’t know jump up on a platform that is attached to a bridge and a single stray blaster bolt will hit you and you will be hurled from the platform, bridge and level to fall to your death. I mean come on seriously the Jedi you’re playing can jump 30 feet in the air lift huge objects, blast 50 foot doors open, stop tie fighters in mid flight with a thought, but a single blaster bolt can make him go flying to his death and this makes you redo the whole level from the start? Or he is not able to step over a 3 inch branch in the ground? This kind of lackadaisical design is what makes gamers want to run happen stance thru corporate offices with their own home-made versions of a lightsaber.”
Despite its problems this is an absolutely must-rent game but its lack of replayability makes it hard to recommend as a purchase until they reveal what, if anything, they will be releasing as DLC. There is a novelization of the game’s excellent story available which I am seriously contemplating picking up. I might recommend that instead to folks who have no other choice than to buy the game at full price. Though I really wanted to give it more, this game earns a 3.5 out of 5.
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