2old2play reviews Star Wars: The Force Unleashed for the Xbox 360. Could Lucas Arts finally have created a Star Wars game for the masses to love? Read on to find out.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (SWFU) is a third-person shooter wherein you play the secret Apprentice of Darth Vader, tasked to hunt down and kill the last remaining rogue Jedi.
The story starts a few years before this on the planet Kashyykk, home of the Wookiees, where the player gets to play as Darth Vader and kill some nameless Jedi who happens to be assisting in the Wookiee uprising against the Empire. Vader is your introduction to the force in SWFU which you will be required to master in order to successfully beat the game. It’s a pretty easy run too, since if Vader’s health goes below zero nothing happens; he just keeps fighting giving you plenty of time to learn and play with Force Push (which sends a wave of energy out in front of your character), Force Grab (picking objects/people and moving/throwing them around), Lightsaber Throw, and Force Shield (make a little bubble around you and force all enemies back). Vader, however, can’t shoot lightning from his hands. This prologue introduces us to the secret Apprentice as well, a small force sensitive child that Vader found and raised in secret. The rest of the game follows his story.
The story is better than anything you saw in Episodes I, II or III, and on par with Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi. It’s cheesy, a little rushed, and full of surprises. There’s two surprises that made my jaw drop. Why? Well, as all Star Wars nerds know this game has been blessed by George Lucas himself - it is canon now, part of the official timeline. In this little slice between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars, you’ll see how the rebellion came to be! That is a pretty big deal. If you’re a Star Wars fan you’re going to want this game for that reason alone.
However, the dark side of the Force is strong with this game, in a bad way. The gameplay is kind of ho-hum. Once you master Force moves, it is fun to fool around with Stormtroopers, Jawas, and aliens, but then game soon introduces enemies that are immune to your force powers. It’s lame; what is the point of being a badass force user if everyone and their uncle can get Force negating shields or whatever they call them in the game. I know it was a game play balancing decision but it’s hard to feel like a Sith when every other Stormtrooper has his Jedi shield on. What’s the point? Prepare to be mobbed by troops, too. The game’s difficulty is created by throwing ever increasing numbers of enemies at you. You’ll be doing fine, when all of a sudden you’ll be surrounded by more than 30 troopers who are shooting lasers, rockets, heavy lasers, stun beams, and sniping your head. Expect all sorts of cheap deaths.
Some reviews have complained about the Force powers, and how difficult they are to control, but I didn’t have this problem once I went through the training missions for each power. The only complication is the loose targeting system which means at times you’ll grab/target the wrong baddie/object. Also SWFU is kind of a collect-a-thon. Want all the neat costumes and lightsabers? Well, collect lots and lots of hidden holocron cubes, as well as accomplishing both the secondary and tertiary mission goals for each chapter. Hopefully the game will actually tell you what those are, because halfway through my first play of the game, my mission page stopped updating! I didn’t know what the secondary goal was, and the game stopped tracking the Force points I needed to accomplish the tertiary goals. This is a big glitch on LucasArts’ part, and hopefully one that is patched soon.
The levels are exciting and different enough the first time around, but the developers skimped on level design, and make you play through them again! So in an entire galaxy of possibilities, everyone you know or need to find, can be found at four locations. The Star Wars universe must be a boring place.
In the end, the ability to pick things up with my mind and throw them around, or pick them up, shoot lightning at them, throw my lightsaber at them, then finally throw them around is what kept me playing this game. For anyone who for the last 30+ years, SWFU is the closest any game has come to delivering the awesome power of the Force into a gamers hand. The game play is a little tired (especially the timed button mashing sequence), the levels are repetitive, and the story wouldn’t win a Pulitzer, but I had so much fun playing this game, even after dozens of cheap deaths I kept coming back.
Now I know how the emperor felt electrocuting Luke Skywalker… totally awesome!