Perhaps the most hyped Star Wars game ever, The Force Unleashed was the be-all, end-all or so we were led to believe. We were mesmerized by the videos and screenshots, yet surprisingly very little of the actual gameplay was ever shown. And for good reason, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is one of the most disappointing games of 2008. Can we find some good in this game, or has it succumbed to the dark side?
The Force Unleashed was touted as having a great story, and thankfully they’re right on that front, but a good story is only half the game. I’ll try to keep it as spoiler free as possible, so bear with me. You play as the protagonist of the story, Darth Vader’s apprentice, and your goal is to rid the galaxy of all Jedi. Sounds simple enough, but it’s not. There are so many twists and turns you could forget you’re playing a game and instead watching a Star Wars movie, one that’s vastly superior to anything put out within the past ten years. This is one area that LucasArts has to be commended, unfortunately it’s about the only area.
The gameplay is the weakest part of the game, and unfortunately it’s also one of the most important parts. The targeting system in the game is atrocious. You could be aiming directly at an object or individual and when you attempt to use the force it will shoot towards the side or in an entirely different direction. This became very frustrating when attempting to defeat the various bosses, especially when playing on the difficult setting. It is nearly impossible to go through this game and not get frustrated with the targeting system.
Another problem during gameplay was the shifting camera angles, far too often the camera would zoom out and you’d be looking at your character from afar while trying to battle the various enemies and vehicles. Some of the angles were down right bizarre. Another inconsistency found in the more difficult levels was the lack of power with your lightsaber, the most powerful weapon in the galaxy was unable to kill a simple Stormtrooper in less than four hits. Yes that’s right, you’d have to hit a simple Stormtrooper at least four times with your lightsaber before he’d die, the more difficult the character the more hits it took. Meanwhile, three shots from a Stormtroopers blaster and you’re dead. When battling multiple enemies it became very frustrating. Between the camera angles, the poor gameplay and the inconsistent weapon damage The Force Unleashed takes a big hit in the negative column.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s try to focus on some of the positives of the game.The graphics in the game are fantastic, some of the best in a Star Wars game ever. Unfortunately there were some anti-aliasing issue as well as frame rate issues. The sound in the game is superb, with LuasArts having Skywalker Sounds full arsenal at its disposal you’d expect the sound to be top notch. The lightsabers crackle, the blasters whiz by and the ships sound like they’re straight out of the movies. They hit a home run here.
Unfortunately there is no on-line or co-op play in The Force Unleashed, and with the relative shortness of the campaign you almost feel that $60 is too steep of a price. Could you imagine on-line play within the game, choosing whether you’re a Stormtrooper, Wookie or Jedi as you battle against others. The pure fun that could be had having lightsaber battles. Unfortunately LucasArts dropped the ball on that one.
Overall, while the game may have a great story unfortunately there are too any negatives that outweigh it. The game is a huge disappointment. The anticipation was high, and the game was even delayed so the developers could polish things up. Unfortunately they neglected to polish up what mattered. If you’re a die hard Star Wars fan then you’ll definitely be picking this up, if you consider yourself a casual fan then this is probably a rental at best.