Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed has had its fair share of hype before release, with Star Wars fans drooling over the fantastically portrayed dark attitude of Starkiller, the apprentice to Darth Vadar, whilst gamers have been anticipating the chance to combine force powers with unbelievable physics. Rarely getting hyped I found myself starting SWTFU with a sense of predictability for what I expected was yet another title in the generic Star Wars line-up… I was wrong.
Jumping right into the game on the ‘Sith Lord’ setting (the hardest accessible difficulty until unlocking ‘Sith Master’) I was initially surprised at stepping right into the shoes of Darth Vadar himself. Being able to play a character of legendary status is somewhat unique, and did a fantastic job of portraying how powerful and dangerous he really is as I slowly walked along the path before me, throwing all enemies aside like flies. Before long the story takes off as Vadar spares Starkiller, a child of two Jedi who will soon be known as the apprentice of Darth Vadar, the slayer of the Jedi.
Upon taking control of Starkiller you are given your first mission, which is very similar to a particular few follow up missions, to kill specific Jedi. Thankfully, as anyone can assume, this is no simple task. Whilst the simple phrase “hack N’ slash” can scare a young child (let alone a gamer) to tears, the inclusion of a varied selection of force powers, fast paced combat and challenging encounters keep the gameplay from getting too repetitive and dull. Sure there will be times when you are doubting this, and the initial combat combos of “press X repeatedly till the enemy dies” does not exactly help, but before long you will be unlocking a wide range of combos, force powers and improving your character by specific force talents.
Throughout the game you can earn points by either defeating enemies to level up or finding artifacts hidden throughout the levels. These points vary and can either go into Force Combos, Powers or Talents. The first, Force Combos, allows you to purchase different moves and combinations to add more depth to the melee combat system. Force Powers unlock as you progress through the game, and points spent in this category will increase the range, damage or use of different force abilities. Lastly, Force Talents, change the character in terms of defence, attack or regeneration. For example you could put all of your points into increased health and health regeneration (as I did myself) or you could go for more force power combined with higher saber damage. The game takes off when you have unlocked a good majority of these core elements, as you will find combat easier and more enjoyable at the same time by combining different attacks and fighting styles.
The generic controls of the game have you using the X button as your basis for saber attacks. This can be combined with Y, B and A to perform unique combo attacks (such as adding electricity to your weapon). The Y button alone is used for lightning force power, B for force push, and A to jump. The LB button is a quick dash, which works great when combined with other moves once again (dash and force push for example). The triggers combined work the several force powers left, and can be used to block attacks with the saber. These controls, whilst simple, combine to allow for some great combinations that work well against the varied enemies (over 50) you will encounter.
The highlight of the game has to be the storyline, as thanks to all the depth and lore available from the Star Wars universe a deep and evolving storyline is easily possible. The storyline could easily be used in a feature film itself. Without spoiling the story at all you will progress through the game whilst your character and the characters around you evolve, and to some extent show their true selves. You truly get a sense that the character you are controlling is progressing throughout the game, helped greatly by the superb voice acting and impressive cutscenes featured throughout the game. Fans of the movies will feel at home with the subject-matter used and a lot of familiar faces and locations from the films have been brought to life in the game.
From the first mission location to the last you will visit a range of beautiful environments of a style that is fitting of the Star Wars universe. The surroundings are bustling and alive with detail (literally in some cases) with combined physics and interaction, truly adding a sense of depth and realism to the atmosphere. This level of quality fits well aside the fantastic character models and specific animations throughout the game. The attention to detail and attitude that oozes out of Starkiller specifically are comparable to Altair of Assassins Creed, which most will know is a great comparison.
The quality of the audio manages to be equally great. Throughout, the fantastic score is very reminiscent of the movies and the voice acting is superb for each and every character. Starkiller, voiced by Samuel Witwer does a particularly outstanding job.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a complete package, and one of which Lucas Arts should be exceptionally proud of. The Star Wars franchise is certainly an overused one, and the games industry has been graced with many great titles, but far more poor ones. It is great to see the franchise is back on form once again. Star Wars fans will no doubt love the chance to wield the force again, as should the general gamer. Be sure to pick this one up, for a rental at the very least, oh and remember… May the force be with you.