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Anthony Capone
23 Sep, 2008

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review

360 Review | Is the Force with LucasArts' latest game?
The Star Wars films have long been a rich tapping ground for video games. George Lucas' epic saga has spawned numerous interactive titles, including masterpieces like X-Wing and TIE Fighter, to the not-so-good of Masters of Teras Kasi. The latest project from LucasArts, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, has been hyped as one of the biggest games to emerge from the epic sci-fi franchise. Promising players unparalleled access to the Force, The Force Unleashed follows the adventures of Darth Vader's lightsaber-wielding apprentice. Though not the ground-breaking title many were expecting it to be, the game still ranks alongside LucasArts' best work. With a first-class story, excellent presentation and enjoyable gameplay, The Force Unleashed on the Xbox 360 is a very welcome addition to the Star Wars universe.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed bridges the gap between Episodes III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope. For the less Star Wars-versed among us, TFU takes place after Anakin Skywalker becomes Darth Vader but before Luke Skywalker destroys the Death Star. Players assume the role of Vader's secret apprentice, known in the game as Starkiller. The offspring of a Jedi killed by the Darth Vader, Starkiller is raised from childhood to do the bidding of the Dark Lord of the Sith. The apprentice is accompanied on his travels by PROXY, a robot whose primary mission is to ambush his master, and Juno Eclipse, the beautiful and talented pilot of The Rogue Shadow. Over the course of the game, players will discover how the Rebel Alliance was formed, with several well-known Star Wars characters making appearances. You will also see various new and old Star Wars locations, including the inside of the Death Star and the junk world Raxus Prime.

The Force Unleashed's story is engrossing and entertaining, and there are genuine moments of humour, joy and sadness. TFU's narrative is told through cut-scenes between levels. Each segment is excellent in both visual and audio presentation, and simply by watching, you become attached to the characters and experience their same struggles with morality. Indeed, fans may be forgiven for thinking they were watching one of earlier Star Wars films instead of playing a game.

With the Force as your ally, anything is possible.

With the Force as your ally, anything is possible.
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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed isn't the first game to equip players with an energy blade and the Emperor's infamous blue lightning. Previous titles such as Jedi Knight and Knights of the Old Republic have taught us how safely ignite a lightsaber and propel an enemy off a ledge with the Force. However, TFU is supposedly the first game to show us what the Force is really capable off. To some extend, TFU succeeds on this point. There are the obligatory Force manoeuvres, such as pull, push, choke and lightning, but it is in the scale of these powers where the game really shows its potential. For example, the apprentice can haul different objects around the room, levitate several enemies in the air at once or send everyone flying backwards with a massive Force blast. Enemies can be also defeated by throwing them onto vaporising energy shields or electrical currents. Indeed, it's always fun to drop a screaming Stormtrooper off a balcony.

The Force gameplay is entertaining, and thankfully, the control scheme is robust enough to cater for all the powers at your disposal. However, while players won't tire of constantly using the Force, you may sometimes forget some of the different Force combos. Further, TFU doesn't require too much contemplation to beat. Force powers can be just as devastating on all types enemies (despite the occasional protective shield), and you will constantly find yourself resorting to the same tactics, especially during boss fights. Taking out enemies is generally a test of endurance, and while creativity in your approach can help, it certainly isn't obligatory.

Another issue with The Force Unleashed is the targeting system. The game automatically detects if you want to pick up an item or person by placing a blue border around the object (after the camera is aimed at it). While the targeting system works most of the time, the instances when it doesn't are extremely annoying – if the game fails to target the enemy properly, your Force power will be directed at nothing. On occasions, the game camera can also get caught behind your character, but this only occurred a few times during our initial play-through.

In addition to your massive arsenal of Force powers, players can also rely on their trusty lightsaber to defeat hordes of Imperial soldiers. Basic attacks are performed by tapping the X button in the Xbox 360 version, while advanced manoeuvres are executed using more elaborate button combinations. Powerful moves have a devastating effect on enemies, but attempting to pull them often becomes a ferocious button-mashing exercise. That said, mindlessly slashing away at the enemy with your lightsaber still generates the same sense of satisfaction.

The colour of your lightsaber may eventually be changed.

The colour of your lightsaber may eventually be changed.
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By completing primary and secondary objectives, players are given points to upgrade their Force powers, lightsaber moves and character attributes. Secondary objectives range from destroying TIE Fighters to earning a certain amount of Force points. A number of small square boxes, called Holocrons, are also hidden throughout each level. Depending on the type of Holocron you find, you will either be rewarded with a temporary boost in power or something more permanent, such as a lightsaber crystal or costume. Force powers are quite devastating at higher levels, and upgrading your character and lightsaber can sometimes mean the difference between life and death. Hence, there is real incentive to spend time exploring each stage.

Enemies in The Force Unleashed are a cut above the level of intelligence displayed in previous Star Wars games. Stormtroopers can actually shoot straight (no, we aren't joking), and clusters of enemy units can be very overpowering when they group together. There are various types of Imperials, mercenaries and robots to cut your teeth on in TFU, but players may find the task of dispatching foe after foe repetitive. However, unlike many other games, each conflict feels as though it has a purpose, and there is no endless re-spawning of enemies.

Whenever you defeat a boss character in The Force Unleashed, a quick-time event plays out, whereby you have to quickly press a specific sequence of buttons. Players are reward with a montage of animations if they successfully complete the task. However, you are usually so focused on what button is being displayed on the screen that you sometimes miss the end of the fight. Thankfully, players are allowed to repeat the process until you get it right. A particular quick-time event towards the end of the game is quite different, requiring players to move each thumbstick in a specific direction. While we won't reveal exactly what enemy the apprentice is battling, it can be said that this quick-time event is one of the best we have ever encountered. Indeed, the sequence is even one of the highlights of the entire game.

While all of the worlds in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed have a unique look, levels are very linear in design. A few Force puzzles are thrown in to mix things up, but they aren't very too complicated to solve. Further, by keeping an eye on the mini-map, you'll seldom get lost. Each of TFU's levels retain an 'epic feel' (especially the journey through the Death Star) and stay true to the Star Wars property. Nonetheless, a little more variety in the path-finding would have been welcome.

The Force Unleashed authentically captures the feel of the Star Wars movies.

The Force Unleashed authentically captures the feel of the Star Wars movies.
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Since The Force Unleashed was first announced, LucasArts has been touting the revolutionary benefits of two new technologies included in the game – Euphoria and DMM (short for Digital Molecular Matter). Euphoria is designed to make artificial intelligence react dynamically and realistically. In TFU, Euphoria may be seen at work when a Stormtrooper levitated in the air grabs for something to hold on to. The result of Euphoria is that while the game has somewhat of a more natural feel, it is not the revolution we were hoping for. The second creation, Digital Molecular Matter, is responsible for effects such as splintering wood and shattering glass. Watching how realistically metal is bent when the apprentice punches open a door is extremely impressive. However, though DMM gives TFU a realistic edge, like Euphoria, it still has limitations and does not fully live up to the hype.

Graphically, The Force Unleashed delivers. The backgrounds bring the environments to life and aid in conveying the cinematic nature of the game. Textures are rendered expertly, character and environment modelling is first-class, and the polished animations make you feel like an acrobatic Jedi. Art direction should also be commended, as the overall look of TFU is fantastic.

Sound is another of the game's strong assets. Lightsaber and blaster noises are conveyed as they are in the Star Wars movies, and explosions and other audio effects create a sense of urgency. Voice acting is solid, and while the replacement cast for the classic Star Wars characters don't sound as polished, the original voice cast – including Sam Witwer, who players Starkiller in both voice and appearance – is superb. The soundtrack, which consists of John Williams' original Star Wars music, adds the final touch to the game. The theme created especially for The Force Unleashed is also worth mentioning, as it too is a pleasure on the ears.

The Force Unleashed is an excellent supplement to the vast library of Star Wars games. The game authentically captures the look and feel of the Star Wars movies, with an intriguing story, polished visuals and excellent audio. Though not too deep or robust, Lightsaber and Force-based gameplay is still vastly entertaining. New technologies like DMM and Euphoria are not as ground-breaking as previously thought, and the secret apprentice's adventure seems a little short at around ten hours. Nonetheless, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed will satisfy fans of George Lucas' saga and anyone who has ever dreamed of duelling with a lightsaber.
The Score
With excellent presentation, entertaining gameplay and a classic story, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is the lightsaber-wielding adventure we've long been waiting for.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

Related Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Content

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Announced
16 Dec, 2009 Starkiller set to return.
More Force Unleashed DLC on the way
26 Jul, 2009 New special retail edition also coming soon.
Xbox Live Deal of the Week - 20/07/09
20 Jul, 2009 Microsoft unleash a tempting offer.
42 Comments
5 years ago
I got this game on 360 yesterday, it's pretty great. Currently trying to beat the spider Jedi thing, only gave it one attempt last night before giving up.
5 years ago
Got the Wii version the day after it came out, it's awesome! Already bea it though but I played it for awhile to beat it. I really enjoyed it and want to replay it to unlock the other stuff
5 years ago
I only played the demo, but wasn't impressed with how shallow and inflexible it was. The only way to hurt the AT-ST is with the lightsabre? Why can't I throw the crates at it? The game drilled that feature into you so you'd take advantage of it, and yet it doesn't work against the boss... ugh.

I believe that 'specific boss battle with the thumbsticks' was mentioned on Kotaku as making the reviewer's young son cry out of frustration (because the reviewer couldn't get past it).
5 years ago
yeah the boss battle that made little crecente cry, because he died after an hour of wrestling this thing for his son icon_lol.gif
5 years ago
I'll probably pick this up when the price drops. Probably not worth picking up when there are so many better games coming out just around the corner.
5 years ago
the demo, i think, was made to highlight the includion of QTEs, since in the final game, you can hurt everything with anything, though the actual degree to which certain attacks work vary depending on the enemy (ie: lightning works well on certain enemies, but others have some immunity to it, likewise grip, sabers, etc.) so Force Push is effective on little guys, but against the big guys, not so much - it'll slow them down, but other force attacks are usually better.

you also aren't required to kill these mini-bosses (AT-STs, Rancors etc) using the QTEs, but i suppose like God of War's QTE finishing moves, there are benefits to doing so - whether it's bonus Jedi Points (and thus more health regenerated) or a quick "time out" from the overall action to recover the force-meter so you can get back into the action (useful in those fights where there's these mini-bosses, surrounded by regular enemies).

i also found the QTE mechanics much better in the full game than in the demo.
i had a lot of trouble in the demo as it'd activate the QTE and before i realised it had been started, , i'd failed it. this was a pretty major concern for me of the final game, but since i got it from EB, i knew if it was still broken, i could return it. the full game is much more forgiving with this. (although i haven't yet made it to the thumbstick one, so who knows?)
5 years ago
Dont Get me wrong i LOVED this game, there was nothing that made me want to put it down... but i had it finished in 6 hours... i mean really i figured that this game would have challanged me some how... considering all the smarts the AI were meant to have i mean what the use of having Stormtroopers that can 'Shoot straight' if the character can very easy deflect them... and the fact that the "choice" you have to make is like the very last thing you do, it should have been included way earlier in the game. The only hope this game has of a long life is DLC otherwise it will just sit on my shelf with all the other Star wars games i have and only get played again if i feel the need to "kick ass with the force"
5 years ago
Mr Waffle wrote
I believe that 'specific boss battle with the thumbsticks' was mentioned on Kotaku as making the reviewer's young son cry out of frustration (because the reviewer couldn't get past it).
sorry but the reviewer is retarded then.
I failed the first two times untill I realised I was doing it wrong and got it done easily. I mean the game has it's faults don't get me wrong, but that bit really wasn't that difficult. Esppecialy not compared to the insane difficulty jump of most of the boss fights.
5 years ago
Bought the game on Friday, love playing it.
a few minor bugs but nothing that gets in the way of enjoying a great star wars tale.
My only complaint would be that it is too short having clocked it in a little over 8 hours. Having said that I didn't find all the secrets or achieve all bonuses, so I think I will play again and attempt those on a higher difficulty (Sith Lord). Can't complain though as it only took 7 hrs to clock COD4, so this is becoming the standard game time. I think I'm more disappointed by the fact I enjoyed the story line immensely and it is now over.. Would recommend this to any Gamer and suggest it is a must for any Star Wars fan.
5 years ago
It's much better than i was expecting. Looking at the review on the web, it kinda frustrates me that this gets an average (which it almost deserves, just add "above" and your set), yet GTA4 gets 10's willy nilly which it so clearly doesn't deserve! *waits for flame*
5 years ago
Ive got it on Wii and it simply ROCKS. Ive beaten all bosses on the first attempt so far and have had none of the problems specified by some reviews. The lightsaber / Force control is very intuitive. The title just keeps getting better and better the deeper I get into it.

I returned the DS version on the other hand, thinking it would tell the story somewhat differently as I read somewhere.

Also, the QTE events on the Wii MUST be completed, otherwise the boss will regenerate a portion of energy and you have to attempt it again..
5 years ago
S.Jaworski wrote
Also, the QTE events on the Wii MUST be completed, otherwise the boss will regenerate a portion of energy and you have to attempt it again..
this happens on the XBox too (and presumedly the PS3) but only if you begin the QTE. it is entirely possible, for example, to kill a Rancor using only Force Lightning (or even a mixture of abilities, then when the prompts start, ignore them and kill them with Lightning, or Push, or something else instead).

however, actual end-of-level bosses require the QTE to be finished though.

i'm actually keen to check out the Wii version. very tempted to buy it in addition to the XBox version i already own, if only for the Duel-mode.
5 years ago
I wish I could give you feedback on the Duel Mode. Unfortunately, ive not had anyone over to try it out with me yet, but the roster so far is stellar.. thus far I've unlocked Darth Maul, Shaak Ti, Aayla Secura, Count Dooku, Luke Skywalker (ANH), Luke Skywalker (ROTJ), Obi Wan Kenobi, Darth Phobos, Asajj Ventress and The Secret Apprentice in various costumes (which affect his stats). With that said, there's over 10 more to unlock.

I see what you're saying re: the QTE's mid-game.

I've got to say that The Force Unleashed on the Wii has been an absolute blast so far for me and if I wasnt leaving for work in 15m, I'd be hammering it like a mad bastard right now icon_wink.gif

Once I finish the game, ill have a playthrough as one of the celebrity skins for the added fun factor. You do know that browsing through the Concept Art gallery occasionally shows up passwords for entry in the Cheat Codes section right? icon_wink.gif
5 years ago
oh, i meant to say elsewhere, but here will do:
as "compensation" for not having a pre-order figure, i was given a code to unlock an extra skin for whenever you play through.

enter "Ferral" in the code screen, and you can play as a Scout Trooper.

big freaking whoop, imo.

(not sure if this works on anything other than XBox and PS3.)
5 years ago
This is a brilliant game. I was worried when i saw all the average reviews, but thankfully this has lived up to the hype for me. I love the level design and the graphics in 1080p are amazing.

Alot of fun, just a little to short. I finished it in 6 hours on warrior difficulty.
5 years ago
great game - short (beat it in approx 7 - 7 1/2 hours - but entertaining all the way through - loved the story - didnt like the sith ending though - the Jedi ending was in tune with the movies -
5 years ago
shiraj wrote
great game - short (beat it in approx 7 - 7 1/2 hours - but entertaining all the way through - loved the story - didnt like the sith ending though - the Jedi ending was in tune with the movies -
Argh, I havne't finished it yet, I don't want to know!
5 years ago
I beat it last night, I think I must have got the Sith ending. It was not happy icon_razz.gif
5 years ago
Sounds like I might make a copy of my save just before the pivotal moment..

Yeah, there's a whole ton of skin codes ObsoletE. Also try "Aayla", "T16Womprat", "Serreno", "ChosenOne" & "HiddenFear" - I cant remember the others.
5 years ago
I know on the PSP one CountDooku as a code unlocks all costumes too.
5 years ago
I think many people read into the reviews too much. So far, I am loving it, and am very impressed. There isn't too much to it, just get it and have a ball.
5 years ago
ive spent times with both versions (i own the wii one, played my mates ps3 version) and i gotta say, the wii version is superior when it comes down to downright fun. so it really annoys me that it looks like a late psx game. i mean, seriously? was a ps2 version needed? are the 10 sales worth detracting from the extra time that could have been spent on visuals?

oh well, such is the life of a wii fan, its still amazingly fun.
5 years ago
I must have low standards because the visuals certainly dont seem below par in my opinion.

A fun game it is! I just ordered the novel which has had top reviews icon_wink.gif
5 years ago
shiraj wrote
great game - short (beat it in approx 7 - 7 1/2 hours - but entertaining all the way through - loved the story - didnt like the sith ending though - the Jedi ending was in tune with the movies -
What the? (have to be delicate as to not spoil)
what do you mean there are two endings? how does this happen, I've completed (PS3) and received what I imagine is the Jedi ending.. are you saying there are different cinematics that create a Sith ending?
that doesn't seem likely as I'm fairly certain I didn't get any direct input into how my character turned out...
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  17/09/2008 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Activision
Genre:
  Action Adventure
Year Made:
  2008

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