When LucasArts first announced Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, the game where continuity is tussled in order to introduce a secret apprentice to Darth Vader, gamers were excited, and hardcore Star Wars fans were a little outraged. Star Wars continuity is not something you want to screw with unless you're George Lucas himself, and even then they're not too sure about it. Now time has passed, emotions have settled somewhat, and what is essentially the next installment of the epic Star Wars story is upon us. Has LucasArts managed to appease both gamers and Star Wars junkies, or have they left both groups out in the cold? The game critics tally midi-chlorians, after the jump.
This is a surprisingly adult take on Star Wars, and uncompromisingly depicts a very dark Galaxy Far Far Away, as befits the time period. The early part of the narrative deals with Vader sending Starkiller to hunt down survivors of the Jedi-exterminating Order 66, but events quickly unfold that change the course of galactic history. The Force Unleashed makes some very interesting things canon, both in terms of the storyline and the characters and elements it uses. You also get to see Vader acting like the merciless villain that Anakin never really was, even in Episode III.
in some places the execution is really off, making the game terribly frustrating in some moments and downright dull in others. Sometimes you'll be left scratching your head at why something it the way it is in the game. While it does the Star Wars universe better than you've seen in a long time, especially since it lets you actually play as Vader in the first level, things like boss and puzzle designs feel sort of lacking. The fact that the game seems so awesome at first just makes the later frustrations of the game that much more disappointing.
The Force Unleashed's leveling system fails to make much of an impact to overall combat outside of some improvements (new attack combos and Force upgrades) to the Apprentice's preexisting repertoire of moves. Admittedly, some later abilities prove useful — especially defensive upgrades that allow you to deflect rapid laser fire back toward turrets and other enemies. This aspect of the game also gives some justification for hanging around and killing enemies to get experience, as opposed to just blowing by them, which — oddly enough — is something you can do quite often. Kinda makes the battle with three Rancors later on a little less dramatic.
All of that negativity shouldn't put you off of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. The fact of the matter is, this is one of the better Star Wars titles out there. While some elements of the plot are somewhat overused or contrived, it doesn't change the fact some of the plot moments are well worth seeing. I enjoyed the game from beginning to end, despite some of the more frustrating moments and technical glitches. There are a few choices that you'll have to make at the very end of the game, but somewhat like Bioshock, they are in fact limited to the very end.
...that's what The Force Unleashed does throughout on a much smaller level, it gives you a chance to glimpse some of the moments and things behind what become keystones of the epic battle between Rebellion and Empire...The Force Unleashed is most definitely a flawed game, but with the help of some amazing acting, a deep plot and rampant force kills is sure to please most Star Wars fans. Ahh, the Force is inconsistent in this one...