PS3: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

You have to really hand it to George Lucas and company, the Star Wars universe for all the stories that were told between episodes 1-6, there’s still even MORE stories in there that can be told. Some call it genius, others call it luck and sloppy story telling when you can write a solid main story, yet still leave enough holes in it to fill with even more intriguing stories that help make everything that much clearer. Unlike some Star Wars games that we’ve seen in the past, Force Unleashed takes place in the SW canon.

Released September 16, 2008
Published by LucasArts
Developed by LucasArts
ESRB Rating: T for Teens
Reviewed by: Manimal Forever | Gamer’s Perspective

Was the Force Unleashed?

You have to really hand it to George Lucas and company, the Star Wars universe for all the stories that were told between episodes 1-6, there’s still even MORE stories in there that can be told. Some call it genius, others call it luck and sloppy story telling when you can write a solid main story, yet still leave enough holes in it to fill with even more intriguing stories that help make everything that much clearer. Unlike some Star Wars games that we’ve seen in the past, Force Unleashed takes place in the SW canon.

The story takes place between episodes 3-4 and centers around Darth Vader’s apprentice. Yes, you read that right, Vader had an apprentice. I’ll let you play the rest of the story for yourself.

While in development, the main draw to this game was that for the first time, the Force would be used in a very over-the-top way and would allow players to use it for some really amazing things. In some ways it delivers in that area, as you are allowed to manipulate the Force to do pretty neat things, but overall it just doesn’t really live up to the hype that was generated for it. You can lift/pull/push with the force as well as use force lightning, and many times you will have to use the force in order to advance through certain areas.

FU is an action game first, and the action is in no shortage! If you’ve always wanted to let loose with a lightsaber and force powers, FU will make you happy because let loose you will! It’s a satisfying feeling plowing through hordes of enemies, throwing them everywhere or frying them with lightning. The good news is that as you progress, you earn points to unlock even more skills and abilities! The score is filled with SW themes you’ve most likely heard before and being a SW game, it all fits well. Voice acting is what it is, if you’ve found the movies corny due to the voice talent, nothing changes here. It’s Star Wars.

Graphically it’s solid looking, some of the environments and atmospheres really look great and may even drop your jaw when you first see them. However there are times when there’s a lot going on on-screen where the game will slow-down a bit and the frame rate will take a dip here an there, it’s nothing drastic, but it is noticeable.

Cut-scenes are used to tell the story as the game goes on in-between missions. They give just the right amount of info/detail while not keeping the player out of the action for too long.

All is not well within the Force however. FU is a game that really had a chance to be the next big action game alongside the greats like God of War, Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, but a lack of polish hurts it. One major annoyance gamers will come across is the targeting. Unless you lock-on to a specific object when you see the target around it, it really does tend to jump around, and with so many things to interact with at any given time, it can really become a source of frustration when you pickup the wrong storm-trooper or you don’t ‘grab’ something with the force. Then there are the controls and responsiveness. At times, they don’t respond the way they should and instead of starting that combo or using the force, you instead just stand there all the while getting shot or attacked. Don’t get me wrong, the game is still fun to play, but it feels like a coat of polish was left off and it’s sad because it would’ve made all the difference if they tightened up the controls and tweaked the responsiveness a bit. Also, you don’t really get to use the Force that much on the environment, it isn’t as robust as it could’ve been,and given the premise of the game it’s a bit disappointing. Not to spoil anything however, there is one extremely cool thing you’ll do with the Force, and while doing it was a huge pain, once it was done it was a good feeling.

Boss battles were paid some attention as well, with each boss requiring some form of strategy to defeat. FU also uses QTE ala God of War for their bosses and even some baddies you fight, the action sequences do look good and many times I found myself thinking “Damn! How cool was that!?”. Throughout the game there are Sith and Jedi holocrons that contain treats! Sith holocrons give you some temporary stat boost, whereas Jedi holocrons can contain force points, extra costumes, lightsaber crystals, etc. Speaking of lightsaber crystals, yes you can customize your lightsaber to have unique abilities as well as its color.

The Rundown
Overall Star Wars The Force Unleashed is a good title for Star Wars fans and action fans alike, but after going through it the first time, there’s not much else to go back for an it’s over between 7-10 hours. The gameplay is fun, but it has it’s annoyances that will make most think twice about a 2nd play-through. Sad because you can see that it was so close to really nailing everything down. Hopefully if they make a FU2 they’ll address the issues and deliver a top notch experience.

Graphics
+ Solid-gorgeous looking environments, character designs
- Frame dips, somewhat clunky animations, clipping here & there

Gameplay
+ Lots of Action, Force powers
- Restricted paths, clunky/unresponsive controls at times, strange glitches

Sound
+ It’s Star Wars, you either hate it or love it
- It’s Star Wars, you either hate it or love it

Presentation
+ Story plays out well, doesn’t keep you out of the action
- Menus take a bit long to load

FF/RV
+ Great for a weekend play through
- Not much to go back for after the first time

Graphics: 7.7
Gameplay: 8.0
Sound: 8.5
Presentation: 8.5
FF/RV: 7.8

Final Score for Kids:
N/A
Final Score for Adults:
8.1

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