Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is the epic from LucasArts that has you set out on a journey of destruction, pain, chaos, revenge, and ultimately one of redemption. You are Galen Marek, codenamed Starkiller and you are Darth Vader’s secret apprentice. To accomplish your mission you will have to master all aspects of the force and in the end you will have to choose.
When the game starts out you are Darth Vader sent on a mission to destroy a Jedi that has been located. You get to the planet where a fierce battle is already raging, and you as Darth Vader have come to eliminate all resistance. This part of the game is used to do two things, one it gives you the back story on how you happened to end up as Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, and also to give you a preview of what you could eventually develop your powers into. Playing as Vader, he moves swiftly but never runs. You just feel his power and you know that no one can stop you. Your movements are precise and deliberate as you make your way across the planet destroying all in sight, imperial, wookie, or otherwise. You make your way to your target and do what you were sent there to do and this is where you run into Galen when he force grabs your lightsaber as you are no doubt about to impale your target. You dispatch your target with a crushing force choke and turn to the young Galen. At this precise moment, Imperial guards arrive, see the boy and are about to kill him when for yet unknown reasons you quickly dispatch them and take the boy with you. And thus, Starkiller was born.
The game in itself is for the most part, a mission based assassination game or at least for the first part. Events happen later that alter the concept slightly. The gameplay is fluid and responsive. The controls are easy to learn and easy to execute. For people who were disappointed in the demo because they thought that you were too powerful and didn’t use your lightsaber enough you will be happy to know that the demo was precisely that a demo. In the real game, you do not start out anywhere near as powerful or with as many abilities as you have in the demo so rejoice. This is good because while you can still do a lot of damage with your force ability at the beginning of the game, if you don’t know how to properly wield the lightsaber, when you get into battles where you are outnumbered or are fighting a boss you don’t stand a chance. This is actually a good lead in to talking about the upgrades.
Fried ugly monster thingy anyone?
There are several types of upgrades and you get points that you can use for upgrades by achieving certain objectives during the missions such as killing multiple enemies at once and such. Throughout the levels, you will find powerups, yellow ones usually give you force points or unlock some upgrade while red ones give you some kind of immediate powerboost such as increased damage or unlimited force. When you press select, you can go to the force upgrade screen where you can use the points you earn in battle to upgrade your force talents and other force related attributes. I like the approach they took to this because when you go to it, its like your leaving the game and going to a separate component but you’re not and the load times aren’t long. My only major gripe about the way they did the upgrades was that there are no alerts to let you know how many points you have to spend which would remind you that hey I have points to spend, so unless you are just really getting pounded you could easily forget for a mission or two.
The storyline has lots of twist and turns definitely worthy of the Star Wars moniker. The storyline itself isn’t as open as I would have liked it to be, but since the events of the game are now part of the actual Star Wars canon (e.g. canon is essentially the official history of something) I can understand why it wouldn’t be, I mean you can’t go throwing the canon out of whack. The game is set between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, the story explores the aftermath of the Great Jedi Purge as well as the rise of Darth Vader. Therefore, all the events in the game have to align with what happened in the movies.
The boss battles are awesome. There are two types of bosses I would say, mini bosses and big bosses the common theme being they require a correct sequence of buttons to be pressed to be dispatched. The mini bosses you will encounter are no joke either and will require some effort. During the big boss battles usually your main mode of attack is lightsaber, while you can use force powers and will need to it is less effective on them because unlike most other minor characters they can control the force too and can usually block and counter most of your force attacks. After getting a bosses’ health down low enough you will be prompted to start the button combo, God of War players will be right at home on these. The only difference in this game is that you have a lot more time to press the right button than in GOW.
The graphics are great and though the levels are huge there was no real lag during gameplay, the game autosaves during the game but you can play right through that with little performance loss. While during the game Starkiller moves very smoothly and naturally you will notice that in the cutscenes the character movements are odd-looking I will call it and when they talk their facial and mouth movements don’t exactly match what they are saying. This isn’t a really big deal, but if you are going to show closeups of the characters face when they speak you might want to make sure the speech animation is on point. The game moves at a good pace with no real fillers, every event is there to further progress the story and I like that.
This game is definitely a success on a lot of levels. Whether you are a Star Wars fan or not you won’t find a lot not to like about this game. As I said previously, the character movements in cutscenes and the speech animation could have been better and the camera angle does get a little out of whack sometimes but nothing major. Due to the canon issues, I can see why this wasn’t necessarily the epic I had hoped it would be but it is an excellent game none the less. The quality of games coming out this year has been so high that all new titles are being judged to higher standards. With all the powerup combinations and a pretty engaging game the game has decent replay value even without an online component. I give Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 4.6 out of 5 stars and it’s a definite buy.