Along time ago in a galaxy far far away… I kicked summons ass with the force!
Alright so we all have at one time or another wanted to beat the ever loving shit out of someone because they pissed us off. Not just beat them but decimate them to the point that they never want to leave their homes again as long as they live. Well now we get that chance for the ultimate revenge and the satisfaction of pure pWnage.
Lucasarts has given us after what seems like ages of anticipation the Force Unleashed. I know everyone who knows about Lucasarts is saying it has shades of the Shadows of the Empire multimedia project and yes it does, but can you blame them? It worked; at least I thought it did. So here we are in 2008 with the Force Unleashed and the main piece of this project is the video game.
The game released on EVERY platform from 360 to PSP (strangely no PC release as of yet) so no matter what system you’re playing you’re going to get a chance for force aided ass-kickery. The premise of the story is one that finally bridges the gap between the trilogies with guess what, CANNON! Yes for all the Hard Core Star Wars nerds out there it is finally here we get to see what Vader and the empire were up to during the height of their power. There are several appearances by the Dark Lord, and our old mangled emperor, not to mention several members of a certain Rebel Band (Bail, Mon Mothma, Garm, even Leia) The story was great some say it was rushed but I felt it was classic Star Wars and with the amazing Soundtrack supporting it I actually got chills during part of the game, that’s how awesome it is. Enough with the story and whatnot though let’s get into what really matters, the game.
So if you’ve been following at all what’s happened with the force unleashed then you know they’ve thrown three different simulation engines into the game to work together, no mean feat mind you, the team at Lucasarts has combined the physics engine HAVOK, with the biomechanical AI engine Euphoria, that supplies all AI controlled characters with a nervous system and life like reactions, and they also used a new particle engine known as Digital Molecular Matter, or DMM that makes everything around your such as glass, and crates act as they would in real life, glass shatters, crates dent, huge metal doors bend and creak when crushed by a force push. All of these technologies are state of the art and without them the Force Unleashed wouldn’t have been possible. Of course these technologies were only utilized on the XBOX 360 and Playstation 3 versions of the game.
Ok so we play as Vader’s secret apprentice who is described as a primal, feral force user who after training with Vader is just super bad ass. He is deadly with a reverse handed shien style lightsaber form and the force, well it just is as awesome as we’ve always wanted it to be. You can grab stormtroopers and lob them across rooms (once you upgrade your force powers you can lift 3 at a time) you can pull TIE fighters out of the sky and crush AT-ST’s into cubes of crumpled durasteel. You can charge your lightsaber with force lightning and then launch a crate, imbued with the lightning at an AT-AT and short circuit it.
While mowing through platoons of Stormtroopers is fun the real challenge of the game is the battles with other Unleashed opponents, other jedi that you come into contact with throughout the course of the game (Yes you kill Shaak-Ti sorry for the spoiler but the deleted scene from Episode 3 is not cannon) and let me tell you on Sith Lord difficulty she is a tough one to bring down. In these battles you get saber locks and a new thing that I was excited about called a force lock where your force powers intersect each other and you have to do some interesting button presses to gain the upper hand. But the best part of these boss battles is the end when you get to go into a Context sensitive button press kill sequence where timed button presses will secure your victory as you beat the crap out of your opponent. From snapping the necks of Imperial Guardsmen, to throwing an old Jedi Master out of the windows of a TIE factory plummeting to the surface of Nar Shadda.
Yes the game is fun, it is tons of fun, and perhaps the most fun I’ve had in awhile playing a game what’s even better is that the game is beautiful. Even the scrap heap of Raxus Prime is nice to look at, the level of detail and the scope is enough to make you stop and look for a minute before moving on to finish your mission. That for me is a great part of where we are in gaming right now, something that hasn’t been possible in the past.
I know I’ve been rambling on and on and will probably be biased about this game because I’m such a Star Wars nerd but who cares. I won’t go and say that this game is perfect because it’s not there are some flaws like the camera it was difficult to keep yourself locked onto an opponent when you were surrounded or he got behind you but if you can overcome that, and the almost random deaths you get during some of the platforming sequences when a droid comes out of nowhere or some Dark Trooper (yes the dark trooper project is up and running in the game) comes and blasts you so that you fall off the platform you were supposed to land on it gets frustrating, but hey what’s a game without a little frustration? Lucky for us there are a lot of checkpoints so no random start the level over type of stuff.
All in all I loved the game and I’ll be playing it several times, already beat it twice and am hoping to do it again soon. If you’re still unsure if you want to get it or not, do it if only for the first level where you get to open up a can as Darth Vader himself.
Concept: Kicking someone’s ass with the force
Gameplay: visceral and fun, targeting issues but nothing to off putting.
Replay: High, because you get to upgrade force powers and I am a guy who likes to collect stuff like concept art and special items and all that.
Bonus: It’s friggin Star Wars it automatically is awesome in my book.
Overall: 10/10 (MY 2nd ever 10/10)
~Ride Hard, Game On!