Review by Spidee
The Force is not so strong with this one.
Star Wars games, for any system they are developed for, fall into two categories: they are either very good or they suck. Star Wars on the old Atari, sucked. The Star Wars arcade games (the digital wire Death Star shooter or the Star Wars Arcade Game) were good. The games for the Super Nintendo sucked. I could name and rate them all but to sum it all up, you really do take Fate into your hands whenever you buy a game with the Lucasarts name on it. As for "The Force Unleashed," let's check it out. This review is for the PS3 version.
The graphics are fine. In fact, they are one of only two things in the game I will not complain about. They look just like you would expect something out of the Star Wars universe to appear as. If you are familiar with them at all, you will know just what you are getting here. The characters, environments, and weapons are all nicely done.
There is a mix of all six Star Wars songs playing throughout the entire game. Of course, with any Star Wars game, the developers have full access to the entire library of the movie sounds. A lightsaber sounds like a lightsaber. A blaster sounds like a blaster. There is not much to be said about that.
Ah, yes. The gameplay. While pretty much everything in the game is considered to be your enemy, the worst enemy you will have is the camera. In fact, it's horrible. If you turn to the right, do not expect the camera to follow you. You must force (no pun intended) the camera to turn with you. While you can just continuously hit the R1 button to center the camera behind you, sometimes it does not want to. Especially if there is an object behind you. R1 is also the button you use to lock on to things you want to attack, throw, etc. But the game decides which target in front of you to lock on to and not necessarily the object directly in front of you (or the one you want to target) even if you are standing mere inches away from it. And forget about cycling through targets to lock on to the one you really want. That feature is simply not there.
Having to control the camera and walk around and fight everything is very frustrating. Even more frustrating is that you can be shot at in a 360 degree radius while you can only see and attack what is in front of you.. So let's toss a little Force Lightning at the guy in front of me with the multishot blaster. The lightning veers off to the left of the enemy you're trying to target. It missed! Meanwhile, he's still blasting away at you while you fumble around with the joystick to face him properly and move the camera so you can see him. Want to put the hurt on that giant robot boss by charging the generator above him with some Force Lightning? Great idea. Now if you can just target the generator instead of the game targeting the crate on the floor. The lock on is also not very reliable when it comes to staying focused on the target. You do not automatically turn to face whatever is highlighted and if you are not facing exactly the direction you want, your attack will miss. Bosses take advantage of this flaw in spectacular fashion i.e. kill you quickly.
The physics engine in the game is rather nice. You can use the Force to pick up a container and then hurl it away from you praying you actually hit someone firing at you. If the hurled object strikes a wall, it will bounce off the wall, change direction, and keep moving. If it hits another stack of objects, the objects will fall like dominos. If you can get it to work, you can wipe out a lot of enemies this way and rack up some bonus points that you can use to purchase Force powers, combo attacks, or more health and Force power.
The game will tell you with onscreen text (that is really hard to read due to the glow / Holocron effect the developers gave the text) what it wants you to do to move forward but it does not make it very clear just HOW it wants you to do that. For example, at the start of stage two, you are given the Force Lightning ability and tells you to see what is beyond the giant hyperdrive in front of you. Of course, it leaves it up to you to find out through trial and error to charge a couple of engine pods that then zip over and put a hole in the wall. Meanwhile, you're being shot at from enemies that come out of no where. And watch where you jump or walk. The game has nothing against you falling to your death by being too close to the edge and even helps you out by making the edge slippery so you can slide right off. This can annoy you to no end when you're trying to find the path up to where you think you need to go and actually causes a number of environment bugs including getting you stuck in place.
The final nail in the coffin are the enemies themselves. If you are damaged by anything knocks you off your feet, you have a split second of opportunity to evade before the enemy will hit you again. In fact, you can be chain combo'ed to death quite easily in this fashion as you try to jump away only to be put down again and again until you die.
There is some good (graphics, sound) and some bad (gameplay mechanics, bad level design) to make this a mediocre game. Was it worth $60? Absolutely not. There is some replay ability with unlockable costumes, database entries, and such. But if you are like me, when you do finally beat the game, it's one that you will just be happy you beat because it means you won't have to play it again. 5/10
Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Product Release: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (US, 09/16/08)
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