Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PS2 | PSP | DS
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed box art
System: PS3, Xbox 360, PS2, PSP, Wii, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Lucas Arts 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Lucas Arts 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Sept. 16, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
A New Hope
by Adam Brown

After the disappointing new trilogy of Star Wars movies, I began to wonder if the Star Wars that I once knew and loved had failed me for the last time. I can now say that perhaps it has, but not in the way you might expect.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed screenshot

Instead of The Force Unleashed being just another proverbial nail in Star Wars’ coffin, it actually has revitalized my interest in the universe prior to the original trilogy and as a whole. What Lucas Arts has accomplished with this game is nothing short of amazing, especially when you consider the nature of the game’s storyline.

The Force Unleashed effectively bridges the gap between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. It does so by having you control Darth Vader, first level only, and later his secret apprentice, Starkiller. With the help of his new apprentice, Vader hopes to one day destroy the Emperor and rule the galaxy. Sounds vaguely similar to his plans with Luke, I know, but it really is an intriguing story full of unexpected twists and turns. Without spoiling what is one of the best Star Wars storyline’s in the past decade, I will say that fans will surely not be disappointed.

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While Vader is eager to overthrow the Emperor, teaming up with an untested apprentice wouldn’t be incredibly bright. So once you’ve made your way through the sluggish and lumbering Darth Vader level of the game, it is time for you to control Starkiller and prove your worth by seeking out and destroying the Jedi who managed to escape death following Order 66. That isn’t to say that the Vader level isn’t fun, but once you’ve played a few levels as Starkiller, you’ll quickly realize just how cumbersome controlling Vader is. Playing as Vader, the air surrounding you feels as though it is made entirely of molasses. Starkiller, on the other hand, is an incredibly nimble character, able to dash, turn, attack, and jump very quickly and responsively.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed screenshot

The ease with which you control Starkiller, and the speed at which he moves, helps make the game’s combat all the more satisfying. With a title like The Force Unleashed, one would expect force powers to play a major role. Thankfully, these powers are well represented, including everything from force lightning to force push. Not only does your wide variety of powers help make quick work of foes, you will also need them for more than just annihilating your enemies. While force push can be used to knock down all manner of barriers in your path and force lightning can overload generators, it is the force grip power that players will need to solve many of this game’s puzzles.

Functioning similarly to the telekinesis ability found in Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy, players will be able to pick up objects and enemies using the force. Once grasped, players can move things, including switches and levers, left and right using the left analog stick, while moving them up and down with the right analog stick. Objects can also be launched as projectile attacks by holding the left analog stick in a direction while releasing force grip. There aren’t many things more satisfying than picking up a storm trooper, charging him with some force lightning, and then hurling his electrified and flailing body at a pack of his buddies while they try desperately to dive out of the way.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed screenshot

The way you can combine your force powers with each other and with your lightsaber is what really makes the gameplay in The Force Unleashed shine. There are several options, including the one I just mentioned, just waiting to be discovered by curious gamers, or even completely by accident. Mashing alternating buttons can produce some useful attacks, but utilizing the available combos and techniques in the game definitely gives you an advantage in combat. Not to mention the fact they truly make you feel like a powerful Jedi / Sith lord. This can range from infusing your lightsaber with force lightning to hitting an enemy with a few swipes of your lightsaber before hitting them like a homerun ball using your saber and force push.

Screenshots / Images
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