Review by arm30

"Has LucasArts Unleashed the Force or a Farce?"

George Lucas unleashed a cultural explosion when Star Wars first hit the screens. The vastness of his creation has emerged in essentially every corner of the mediated world. That said videogames are probably the perfect tool to translate the immensity of the Star Wars universe effectively, considering their potential to encapsulate good storytelling and a stimulating and immersive personal experience. So how does LucasArts latest addition fare?

Answer: about as well as Luke Skywalker did against Vader in The Empire Strikes Back (you will recall Skywalker was missing a certain five-fingered appendage after their confrontation). To elaborate, although Lukey lost not only his hand but his lightsaber as well, he did pretty darn well to last five plus minutes against the all-mighty Darth Vader. So The Force Unleashed is good but not as good as it should have been. Just as Luke challenged Vader prematurely The Force Unleashed should have been left in the oven for a bit longer.

The game succeeds in its promise to give players control over the elusive ‘force' in a fresh and satisfying new way. Through Starkiller (what a kick ass name) you have at your fingertips an impressive array of storm trooper dispensing abilities: send bolts of lightning coursing through bad guys, hurl them around like rag dolls, or force impale them with your trusty lightsaber just to name a few. Lightsaber combat is gratifying, the sound effects are pulled off to a T, and there are plenty of combos available that combine Starkiller's proficiency with everyone's favourite energy sword and his mastery over the force. The Force Unleashed also delivers from a narrative point of view. While not a masterpiece, the story driving Starkiller's adventures is engaging and a suitable addition to the Star Wars pantheon.

Here come the gripes. My chief problem with The Force Unleashed is that the bones of the game is based on the over-used ‘God of War' formula. Come on guys stop stealing Kratos' thunder lest you incur his divine wrath! Seriously nobody does combo driven slaughter and mini-game executions like Kratos' does so think of something else. The action can feel a bit repetitive at times as well. While killing endless numbers of fools is not necessarily a bad thing you are very rarely challenged to change your tactics from battle to battle, making for, quite often, very tedious gameplay. The visuals are mildly pleasing but are even more repetitive than the lacking battle tactics of the mentally-stunted storm troopers, which I found rather disappointing considering the rich diversity of the environments seen in the films. Essentially the game feels a bit ‘been there done that' and does nothing to progress the genre.

My final words: LucasArts latest entry is not so bad that it deserves to be re-titled The Farce Unleashed, but it is not so strong in the Force that it deserves to sit alongside Yoda in the Jedi Council.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 10/06/08

Game Release: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (AU, 09/17/08)

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