Anthony Capone
18 May, 2008

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Preview

360 Preview | Impressions direct from LucasArts' live demonstration.
The Force Unleashed is LucasArts' next big foray into the Star Wars universe. Set between Episodes III and IV, the game is promising fans of George Lucas' saga the most memorable Force-based gameplay experience to date. PALGN was recently able to witness a live demonstration of the Xbox 360 version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed by the kind folks at LucasArts. Before entering the loading screen, Producer Dan Wasson said a central concept of the game is to allow players to 'use the Force to kick ass.' Not only does The Force Unleashed look as though it will live up to that promise, it also seems that it may cement itself among other Star Wars greats like Knights of the Old Republic and Jedi Knight.

Wasson began by showing the very start of the game. Accompanied by John Williams' classic theme, the Star Wars logo began scrolling from the bottom of the screen. After providing viewers with a short rundown of the situation (similar to what happens in the Star Wars films), the game displayed a Star Destroyer above the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk. As an Imperial Shuttle descended from the mammoth spacecraft, we felt as if we were watching the opening scene of a Star Wars movie. To give players an introduction to the game, Wasson explained that you initially play as Darth Vader (yes, the Dark Lord of the Sith himself) to get a feel for Force powers and lightsaber combat.

The game's HUD features two energy bars – the green bar represents health, while blue shows Force energy. Using the Force depletes the blue bar, but it recharges over time. Wasson demonstrated how players can use the Force to throw objects, grapple enemies and move obstacles. A blue hue is displayed around objects that lifted with the Force. One of the triggers on the controller is used to initiate control of the Force, and the right thumbstick moves objects and enemies in the desired direction. Force powers are somewhat average at the start of the game, but they can be levelled up as you progress in the game. The Force Unleashed really looks like it will give players the greatest Jedi experience yet. Indeed, the amount of objects that can be controlled with the Force and the utter devastation that it causes is quite remarkable.

Stormtroopers will be the fodder of your Force powers.

Stormtroopers will be the fodder of your Force powers.
Wasson also showed how The Force Unleashed's new game technologies operate. The first, Euphoria, causes artificial intelligence to act more realistically and sporadically. For example, Wasson demonstrated how an AI character will grab for its counterparts on the ground if it is levitated in the air. The other mechanic, Digital Molecular Matter (or DMM) gives the game's environments a more natural feel. For instance, if you use the Force to shatter wood, it will never splinter in the exact the same way.

Though the Force is a large element of The Force Unleashed, lightsaber combat is an equally important feature. Players will be able to unleash powerful combos on enemies like stormtroopers, exiled Jedi and Rancors (the mammoth creatures from Return of the Jedi). The character's lightsaber can be upgraded and the colour of the blade changed in the Wii and PlayStation 2 versions, but we were not informed if the same can be done on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 formats.

Once you beat one of the game's many bosses, a quick-time event plays out, whereby players have to press buttons in a predetermined sequence in order to finish the fight. Wasson informed us that these events are not an additional test but rather a reward, as if you get the sequence right you see the apprentice perform special manoeuvres. Indeed, if you fail to press any of the buttons in time, you will be able to repeat the process until you get it right.

Just as the Force is an integral part of combat, so is lightsaber prowess.

Just as the Force is an integral part of combat, so is lightsaber prowess.
As the level Wasson was playing came to an end, Darth Vader closed in on his objective – a Jedi that had survived Order 66. Once the target was eradicated, Vader made a startling discovery – the Jedi had a son. Rather then kill the infant, the Sith Lord made the decision to train him as a Dark Jedi. A number of years pass, and it is only then that players get control of the game's central character – Darth Vader's secret apprentice. Though the secret apprentice is loyal to the Dark Lord of the Sith, 'the theme of the story is redemption' says Wasson. Indeed, The Force Unleashed contains many surprises, but we dare not divulge any more here.

The Force Unleashed takes place in familiar Star Wars locations, and each stage is split into a number of primary and bonus objectives. In the words of Wasson, levels have an 'epic feel'. For example, in one of the levels we were shown, the apprentice was walking down a hallway when it suddenly opened into a gigantic chamber with TIE Fighters zooming overhead. Another feature of The Force Unleashed that impressed us was the visuals. Even though the game is a few months away from completion, it ran at 30 frames per second for the majority of the demonstration. Models, textures and animations looked great, and the cutscenes were equally polished.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed will be relished by fans of the film and anyone who has ever dreamed of dropping a stormtrooper over the edge of a cliff with the Force. From the sections of the game we saw, the Xbox 360 version seems quite polished and using the power of the Force to overpower enemies looks wickedly entertaining. With a classic story and high production values, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is shaping up as the next big thing for LucasArts when it is released on September 17th.

Stay tuned to PALGN later this week when we deliver our hands-on impressions of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on the Nintendo Wii.
The Force Unleashed looks as though it will deliver everything it has promised, with a memorable story, top-notch presentation and jaw-dropping Force powers. If you have ever wanted to become a Jedi, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed will be the game for you.

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5 years ago
this is the game that i am most wanting to play this year
5 years ago
I really want to see some gameplay footage. My search begins.
5 years ago
Thanks so much Anthony! I look forward to the Wii preview. I see, by the RC-1140 avatar, you are also quite the fan icon_wink.gif

I really can't wait for this title.
5 years ago
This will probably be my personal GotY, barring an early release of Project Offset.

Euphoria + Havok + DMM. 'nuff said.
5 years ago
I endorse the post above me^^

I can definitely see this game being my personal goty, but I've always been a sucker for Star Wars games. i think its because every game has the same three solid elements of: Great story, awesome combat system and a solid rpg element.
5 years ago
very much looking forwards to this.

but is anyone else sick of Quick Time Events? i don't mind so much when they're used to spice up cut-scenes (such as in the Heavenly Sword demo, using it to jump from the support ropes and all) but i think i'd rather games returned to Mortal Kombat-esque blind fatality moves, rather than using onscreen prompts.

i suppose if they're done more in a God of War fashion, with a prompt every few seconds, rather than a Fahrenheit fashion, with it's Guitar Hero paced prompting, then it could retain the air of spicing the cutscene, without drawing attention away from the action. something i think Fahrenheit was a little guilty of.
5 years ago
It seems a bit formulaic to me. Sure it'll be ultra mega fun, but I can't see the wow factor. All it really has is some great physics, which seems to be the only thing the developers are playing off to get the game out the door, but hey, it's Star Wars, it'll sell like hotcakes.

I personally would rather they go back to the Dark Forces/Jedi Knight storyline for the Star Wars action fix as I really liked those games and wanted more Kyle Katarn.
5 years ago
It makes one wonder which Jedi had been hiding a son. Quinlan Vos seems to be out of the question..
5 years ago
I've never been a huge fan of movie tie-in games (even star wars ones) but this game has had me interested from day 1 for a couple of reasons:

1. Uses new Emotion engine
2. Uses a new deformable environement engine
3. You play as an evil sith apprentice.

Other than Obi-Wan the coolest character i've seen in the Star-Wars universe is Darth Maul so i'm hoping this game lets me live out some evil shit i've been dreaming up for a while now.
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Australian Release Date:
  17/09/2008 (Confirmed)
  Action Adventure
Year Made:

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