Thursday, September 18, 2008

Force Unleashed Review

From the moment it was first announced, it was apparent that there was a big push behind The Force Unleashed. A game all about using the Force to tear through hordes of enemies, with a story blessed by George Lucas as official that helps set the stage for Episode IV... could it possibly live up to expectations. Well, I suppose that depends a lot on what your expectations are.

Although the first level lets you take control of Darth Vader himself so you can get a feel for the game, for the most part you'll play as Darth Vader's secret apprentice, codenamed Starkiller. Starkiller begins with not much more than a lightsaber, Force Push (which shoots a ball of Force out to knock stuff away from you), and Force Grip (which lets you use the Force to grab things, pick them up, and best off all, throw them). You'll gain Force Points for doing stuff, though, and when you have enough you'll level up. Leveling up (or collecting Jedi holocrons) will allow you to use colored spheres to unlock combos, increase your stats, and upgrade your Force Powers. New Force Powers are given between missions. By the end of the game, Starkiller will have an impressive array of Force Powers at his disposal.

For the most part, this makes combat a blast. You walk into a room, grab an enemy with the Force, impale him on your Lightsaber, then Force Push him into a group of his friends that ducked behind some cover... cover that will crush some of your enemies when you Force Push it. Indeed, the environment can be half the fun. Sometimes I'd use Force Push to knock some enemies into barriers that disintigrated them, or I'd grab a guy in a Force Grip, move him out over a cliff, and then just drop him instead of tossing him. Larger enemies tend to be less fun, though, since you can't Force Grip them, and they're often resistant to Force Push as well. It can be fun to throw other enemies at them (I thought it was particularly amusing to throw Stormtroopers at an AT-ST), but for the most part it was easiest to use Force Lightning until you get the quick-time even button segment that'll finish it.

I found the story to be quite good as well. It has the epic feel that the new Clone Wars movie was sorely lacking. It wasn't just a throwaway story, either. The events in the game do have implications on what happens in Episode IV. Since that would make it something of a prequel, though, it does leave the story a little predictable, but no less entertaining.

The game isn't without its flaws, though. Fights that should seem epic, like a Rancor, quickly become routine. The targeting system is terrible; I hated trying to hit an enemy with Force Lightning, only to find that I was actually targeting a crate. Speaking of crates, while it's quite easy to grab an object with Force Grip, hitting enemies with the object you've picked up can be hit or miss. And the camera is terrible, often forcing you to take your thumb off the face buttons to adjust it with the right stick just to keep your eyes on the action.

The game's worst flaw, though, is that it's very buggy. Maybe Lucasarts should have finished TFU before laying off damn near the entire company? For me, the worst were when a boss froze, forcing me to reload a save, and when I fell off a ledge but didn't die, again forcing me to reload a save. Another minor but still irritating bug is that about halfway through the game, it stopped counting my stats. From that point on, at the end of every level, the game would report that I didn't complete the bonus objective in a mission (which I almost always did), that I collected 0 Force points (it's impossible not to), and 0 Holocrons (while I never found all the ones in a level, I'd always collect some).

The game also isn't very long. You have about 10 levels or so, and each one takes maybe a half-hour to an hour to complete. You do unlock new constumes, and you can go back and replay any stage to get any holocrons you missed. During the last level, a choice you'll make will determine which ending you'll get, so at the very least you'll want to replay that level.

On the whole, I'd say that TFU's fun outweighs its flaws. It was the kind of game I had a hard time putting down... I'd often run through three levels at a time. But, judging from review scores across the web, maybe my opinion is a minority one? In any case, as I said before, if you like the demo, you'll probably like the game.

Final Score: B-

1 comment:

science412 said...

The game seems fun, but I'm personally tired of the Star Wars overkill. From the music, to the sound effects, to the characters, etc., it's all grown stale for me. For the time being, I want to live in a galaxy far, far away.... from the Star Wars franchise.