Star Wars: The Force Unleased Review
by Gauss


Basic Information:
Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts
North American Release Date: 9/16/2008
European Release Date: 9/19/2008
Trophies: Yes, Patched


Overview
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (TFU for short) is LucasArts attempt to deliver what we Star Wars fans have been craving for, for years. Players are able to take control of the Sith/Jedi directly and are able to weild not only a Lightsaber, but an array of force powers to overcome obstacles and enemies.

TFU follows the life of Starkiller, Darth Vader's secret apprentice, as he trains to eventually help Lord Vaderizzle overthrow the Emporer. During the course of the game this will take him through various Star Wars locales as he hunts down Jedi left alive after Order 66.

Gameplay
The gameplay of TFU is combat oriented, there really is no exploration or obstacles that can't be overcome with a quick jump. Now while many of you might be saying "then why bother?" Let me remind you that TFU focuses on your Lightsaber and your Force powers. What that means to you is you will be able to crush AT-STs with your mind, impale stormtroopers who look at your funny, electrocute Rancors after lobotomizing them, and crash Star Destroyers by dragging them down from orbit. In other words, it is awesome.


The sheer magnitude of your force powers is brilliant, and taken in the right direction. LucasArts realized we, as players, don't want some force powers that are pussy footing around the central focus, we don't want to spend 3 minutes recalling our lightsaber from the corpse of our enemy. We want to be able to blow out windows of a starship, throw stormtroopers around like rag-dolls, and demolish buildings all by waving our arms.

That being said I do wish some more care was given to the Lightsaber, its my primary problem with this game. Your Force Powers are over the top in terms of damage and capabilities, but your Lightsaber is a joke, even fully leveled up. The sheer fact that some stormtroopers can take multiple hits with one is unbelievable. I also really miss the dismemberment from other Jedi games such as Jedi Knight 2 and Jedi Academy.

LucasArts, I know you can have bosses dying in one hit, but the concept that any normal enemy can take multiple strikes from a lightsaber to their head is stupid.

Singleplayer
The Singleplayer campaign from TFU follows the events of Episode 3 and connects them to Episode 4, now setting aside all "Why?" jokes... The actual connection is implied. No real mention of the events of the prequel trilogy is made other than Order 66, which we technically knew about before the prequel trilogy, but basically thats the link between the two trilogies.

The game starts off with Starkiller hunting down Jedis that survived Order 66 as apart of his training, when he becomes powerful enough he and Vader will kill the Emporer and take over the empire.


Overall the story is interesting, and honestly has the BEST depiction of Darth Vader in any mainstream media since Return of the Jedi. I actually found it funny that this video game did a better job of depicting Vader as a villian with inner conflicts and demons, a man who feels cornered into doing things he hates, more than any of the prequel trilogies did.

The singleplayer does have one key downfall though, it is short to the point where I would consider anything other than a 30 USD price tag robbery. Make no mistake, if you aren't considering the trophies (which will take atleast 2 playthroughs without glitches), this game can be beaten in about 6 hours. Ludicrious for a game that ONLY has a single player campaign.

I will make mention here that there is DLC available on the Ultimate Sith Edition that adds another 2-3 hours which follows the non-canon ending and interprets some events of Episode 4 and Episode 5 through that ending. It is definitely cool and adds some more playtime, worth the money it costs over the original version.

Technical
This is the one area I think TFU suffers the most.

Let me say though the game is absolutely beautiful. This is next generation Star Wars defined, the level design is great, and the physics engine is jawdroppingly brilliant. The problem is nothing visually... Its the controls. In any hack-and-slash targeting is key, you have to be able to identify priority targets and in a game where you are casting a type of magic (thats what the Force is in this case) being able to direct it properly is paramount. TFU fails in this regard.

You will constantly be battling the camera and your character's perspective to send the right Force power to the right place, and on the harder difficulties this will get you killed more than once. What's worse is this soft-targeting system prioritizes your target by proximity in your line of sight, so in other words it can send a bolt of force lightning up a stray crate that wandered into your path instead of through a missile launching Stormtrooper all because that crate happens to be 5 ft closer. It is a major issue.


You would think the answer to this problem would be the hard-targeting (or lock-on) system, but that is equally painful. The big problem with that is how picky it can be, in all seriousness LucasArts should have NOT let you lock-on to anything that isn't an enemy, instead you just lock onto your soft-target (resulting in the same problem as above), and more importantly if the hard-target jumps out of your line of sight (as a Jedi often will) or does some move which results in him leaving the board the end result of the question "What am I locking onto now?" seems to be "I don't know." Sometimes the lock will release properly, othertimes you will have to force a release because the targeting gets stuck.

While these problems aren't impossible to work around, it makes the learning curve high. On a game that is already beatable in under 6 hours, the proposition that it will take an hour or so to learn means >20% of your game is just one big "training" mission. The game is still alot of fun, and often with the higher level force powers you don't care anyway since it hits everything in a cone in-front of you, but it keeps this game from being classic.

Trophies
The trophies for TFU are average, overall I'd rate the plat as a 7/10. The hard trophy is beating the game on Sith Master, which is quite a difficult task. Everything else though is grind-related (kill X enemies with Y force power) and the typical story related ones. Due to the shortness of this game, this is a good renter for a quick batch of trophies if you really want to blow money on your trophy level. Due to the game's price though, its worth the purchase. The actual game is well worth the money (and is why we play games... remember?)


Gameplay: 8.5/10
- The Gameplay is not perfect. It is completely and solely focused on combat... but that combat involves crushing AT-STs with your mind and shocking rancors, so its awesome. I wish it did have dismemberment though.

Singleplayer: 7.5/10
- The singleplayer is alot of fun actually, only problem is it is CRIMINALLY short.

Technical: 6.5/10
- This is where TFU really loses alot of points, the big problem is the targeting system. You will constantly finagle the joystick to make your target, and the locking system is too picky to be reliable.


Overall: 7.5/10 Good