I remember way back when they were announcing a next-gen Star Wars game I was full of excitement, and then with every tech demo, screenshot, teaser, or trailer that was released that excitement grew. Then, finally a demo was released on Xbox Live. The demo was great, showing off many of the Apprentice’s powers, a lot of the game play elements, and even a battle with an AT-ST. Did the final game deliver? I say yes, in almost all aspects it delivered. First I would like to talk about a couple things that disappointed me though.
First of all, no multiplayer at all! What is this? The game has a pretty deep combat system, a lot of moves, and a great dueling system built in. This would have been perfect for a multiplayer component. I remember playing Jedi Knight and Jedi Knight 2 for the PC online only to have lightsaber battles, I almost never touched the single player campaigns. I think an online versus mode in The Force Unleashed would have had fans playing online for many months after the launch. Why they didn’t include it, I will never know.
A few other smaller things I noticed, a couple of times I had enemies get stuck between walls and railings. There was one Imperial Guard I had to fight, and to defeat him you needed to deplete his health and then hit a sequence of buttons sort of like in God of War. Only the guard got caught in the wall so even though I got his health down to nothing I could not initiate the button sequence to kill him. I had to try everything to try to free him so that I could kill him. It didn’t ruin the experience of playing the game, but it was kind of annoying. In the final level if you went to the Mission Objectives menu, it didn’t total up my Force Points or how many Holocrons I collected, and for the Bonus Objective it just said “* Default Text”. Maybe a little more time before launch could have fixed these issues.
Also, I think there could have been more environments in the game. You really only visited three different planets in the game, and then a couple of interiors, like space stations and whatnot. It would have been cool to see more of the Star Wars universe in this game. It was also a pretty short game, I beat it in a weekend, it didn’t keep a timer so I don’t know how many hours, but I would assume 10 or less. If they added more environments they could have extended this which could have fixed two problems in one.
As for what I did like; The story was very well written, it takes place between Episodes III and IV during the formation of the Rebellion, and Vader’s purge of all the Jedi. You are Vader’s secret Apprentice – sometimes referred to as Starkiller – who was trained in the Dark Side for the purpose of hunting down the remaining Jedi. As good as the story was, a lot of it didn’t come out in the game. The cinematics they had between levels served the purpose of explaining what was going on. I think if they were extended a little bit they could have made the story shine through a bit more and made it that much more of an engrossing experience.
I really enjoyed the combat system in this game. I read that some people found it repetitive and boring, but I found it no more repetitive than God of War or any of the new action games out there. You had Lightsaber combos, and an arsenal of Force powers to choose from – my favorites being Force Lightning, Repulse, and the Lightsaber throw – so I never found it boring.
The customization was also a cool addition. You would occasionally find lightsaber crystals around that you could embed in your lightsaber to change either it’s color, or you could give it beneficial effects. There were also different costumes that you could wear to change how the Apprentice looked. You got to choose which Force powers you leveled up, so only the ones you liked using would get more powerful. It made for a more rewarding experience. Especially when I found the black lightsaber crystal was this made all the more so apparent.
All in all I really enjoyed the game, and that is why I am giving it a 4 out of 5. It is a must have for any true Star Wars fan. I truly hope that Lucasarts continues with The Force Unleashed series by crafting new fiction and introducing us to more very powerful Jedi and Sith. My vote is on making the next one take place after Episode VI, and have the character be someone from Luke’s Jedi Academy on Yavin 4. You heard it here first! If Lucasarts does that I want a cut.