Sunday, 5 October 2008

Review - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

A Guest Review by Falco
  • Game: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Version Reviewed: Xbox 360
  • Other Formats: PS2, PS3, Wii
  • Developer: LucasArts
  • Publisher: LucasArts
  • Genre: 3rd person action/adventure
The Force has been Unleashed. LucasArts' latest game from the Star Wars franchise comes in the form of the Force-powered hack and slash The Force Unleashed. The key point about The Force Unleashed is the story, as TFU fills in the blanks in the saga between Episodes 3 and 4 and essentially links the whole package together. TFU centres on Darth Vader's secret apprentice, 'Starkiller', one of the most powerful Force users ever. Starkiller is a great character, and as the story moves on he becomes more and more likeable. The cut-scenes in the game really show off how cool he is; I mean on the scale of Star Wars cool, he's probably about as cool as Han Solo.

Gameplay is simple, you use your lightsaber and Force abilities to destroy everything in your path. The way the Force and the more martial talents go hand in hand is really quite something. One combo of particular note (X, X, X, hold B) slashes your opponent then slams them down with the Force, throwing them in the air allowing you to carry on the barrage with a couple more hits or a Soulcalibur like two button grapple (e.g. the X and A buttons). TFU is quite tough at times, so to prevail, despite playing as a Sith, you need to use the calm swiftness of a Jedi to get through. The bosses are merciless and are more a test of your newest ability than anything. They are like classic bosses of retro games, as each has a pattern and a weak spot you have to take advantage of. The sub-bosses, such as the AT-ST's, have you playing button combo mini-games to finish them off, a la God of War and the like, and it even though it looks fantastic, it can get quite repetitive.

"These are not the droids you are looking for."
"These are not the droids we're AAARGH!"

The Force powers are well implemented, especially the 'Grip' power, which allows you to fling the objects that litter the environments at your enemies. The way the environment and your enemies react is amazing. When you pick up a Stormtrooper they frantically try to grab hold of something, whether that be a comrade or part of the environment. Then when you throw them through things they bend, break and warp as you'd imagine them to; wood splinters, glass smashes and huge metal doors are bent apart. It really is incredibly satisfying.

The graphics scream next-generation at you, and even though the frame-rate can stutter a little, it never really drops too low. The fact the apprentice was in Soulcalibur IV means he doesn't look quite as cool as he can but even so, he still looks awesome. The graphical standard carries on throughout the game - the environments, enemies everything. Sound is incredibly important in a Star Wars game and it gets practically everything spot-on, especially the grand theme at the title screen, which is dark and inspiring in equal measure. The effects of the TIE Fighter's engines, blasters going off and the memorable hum of a lightsaber as it deflects everything the galaxy can throw at it are present and correct. The voice work is very, very good, especially for the main crew and Darth Vader. The fact the established characters from the movies sound so convincing just improves the experience.

If you're a Star Wars fan this is such a definitive purchase. There are many nods and winks to the main saga, and the story has many twists and turns before you finish this epic journey.


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