[8bit Review] Star Wars Force Unleashed

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Platform: Xbox 360
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: LucasArts
Website: www.lucasarts.com/games/theforceunleashed

The Intro-
George Lucas and the boys at LucasArts finally get a chance to show off what a Jedi can do in the video game world. Star Wars The Force Unleashed helps fill in the gap between Revenge of The Sith and A New Hope. The story itself will be viewed as mostly fluff by the uninitiated, but a few core plot elements are suggested that will certainly appeal to hardcore fans. As one, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of this game and I’m not disappointed. Sure, I’m a bit biased, but this is Star Wars and it’s hard to not be a little twisted by the franchise’s sith like influence.

The Good-
When they say the Force is “unleashed”, they aren’t kidding. Everything from large boulders to sections of the walls can be used to wreak havoc. Force pushing or gripping a storm trooper, then throwing him over the edge into the depths of wherever the hell in the galaxy you happen to be never felt so good. Listen for that sweet Wilhelm Scream. Gameplay is a symphony of elegant button mashing. Different combos can let loose ridiculous amounts of damage and produce moves that just look plain cool. The leveling system gives this game a perfect balance of an action title and an RPG. Plenty of unlockable items give it a moderate replay value. There’s even a black-bladed lightsaber to find. Bonafide badass. The locales for missions are incredibly detailed with plenty going on. The level design is fairly linear, but there’s still plenty to explore off the beaten path. The story is considered canon and has been approved by Lucas himself, which may be enough of a draw for hardcore fans like me. We all remember Jar Jar, the soulless love scenes and the terrible dialogue that plagued the first two prequels, but after documenting Anakin’s downfall in Episode III a lot of faith has been restored in George and his ability to steer the galaxy properly. The Force Unleashed maintains the same high narrative quality that Star Wars fans feel they deserve.

The Bad-
Though you can get sidetracked and do a bit of exploring as mentioned above, these levels are completely linear. There is one path to follow which seems in direct contrast to playing as a Jedi with maxed force powers. I can throw a Tie Fighter and a storm trooper, so why can’t I find more than one route to the boss battle? Sometimes you’ll encounter the never ending flopping storm trooper after you’ve mutilated him with every Force power and lightsaber combo you can pull off. We know he can’t help flopping there but we want him to just go away already. I’m still not sure about the required mix of well-timed, fully prompted on-screen button hits it takes to pull off finishing moves on larger opponents. I wanted to be doing it all myself, but then I realized that I probably couldn’t pull off some of the truly spectacular finishers on my own anyway. These final moves are similar to the ones found in Resident Evil 4 and God of War. They come off a little gimmicky and feel like Mortal Kombat fatalities meeting Guitar Hero. If you think that sounds cool then you’ll like it this elegant disguise of button mashing, if not though, you may be left wondering why the developers are holding the most bad ass Jedi in the land’s hand.

The Ugly-
Is James Earl Jones that busy? Really?

The Ending-
Overall I was extremely happy with this game. I had high expectations and they were met. I hope they continue this style of Star Wars game while maybe exploring other canonical stories throughout Lucas’s vast universe. Just being in the belly of the Death Star while its being in constructed– come on? Awesome. At the beginning of this review I tried to be very objective about the game, but after the first two lines I got so excited about the game again that I stopped writing and played it for two hours. So much for objectivity.

[8bit Take]: The Force is strong with this one