Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review

It's no secret I'm a big fan of action games. Devil May Cry, Ninja Gaiden, Assassin's Creed all float my boat. The Force Unleashed is no different. The Force Unleashed puts you in control of Starkiller, an over-the-top powerful Dark Side force user, who can cut down swathes of enemies in an instant. Never before has a Star Wars game given the player a Force user this powerful to control. While some of your abilities are locked at the beginning of the game, and they are progressively unlocked, that feeling of power never wears off - you are always more powerful than your enemies, and there's (usually) plenty of Force power to go around.

The game has been made to be very simple, so that hack-and-slash players can just mash the saber, lightning and push buttons to get them through just about anything. The enemy variety is lacking creativity, but certainly not lacking in variety. There are enemies resistant to you saber strikes, some are resistant to your lightning, others can shielded against your force push. There is a cost to this though - because of the way the storyline progresses, the combat feels very uneven, and there is a strange difficulty curve, which keeps going up steeply the first few levels of the game, then suddenly decides to drop again. While the bosses do get more difficult, the enemy encounters do not. This is especially apparent when you revisit Felucia and the Felucians are happily at war with the Imperials, and allows you to just run through unnoticed for the most part.

Levelling up is slow. For every level you gain, you gain a sphere of each type - one for each category of ability (innate abilites like health and force, combos and force powers). You can find more if you're willing to hunt down the many Jedi Holocrons scattered within the level, but I haven't bothered. Still, by the end of the game, I was happily imbued with level 3 Force Push, Force Lightning and nearly the whole list of combos.

There are several sources for frustration in this game. The first of which is that there are many levels in which you can easily fall down. If you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, you could easily end up down some ditch since enemies occasionally decide to bear on you with stunning capabilities that keep pushing you backward until you die. Not fun. The second source was trying to pull down the Star Destroyer like you see in the trailers. I can assure you it is not fun. The loose locking system makes the waves of TIE fighters annoying as hell, and that's not to mention that I had to fool around with the Star Destroyer a lot before it finally came down. The third issue is the relatively loose locking system with no easy to switch targets (not that I've noticed anyway), this results in a lot of throwing stuff around you didn't intend, or wasting Force points on something that is immune to grip.

While these problems are here on your first playthrough, I'm sure you are meant to play it again - and the second time round, I imagine you'd find the enemies perfectly fine, and you would've gotten used to the locking system, not to mention learning a few tricks.

However, there are problems that won't go away. I ran into quite a number of bugs while playing the game. The boss battle on your first visit to Raxus Prime got stuck between some chairs, and it took a lot of coaxing to finally get him out. I myself have gotten stuck in the first visit to Felucia in some plants I accidentally jumped into. These can be frustrating bugs if the last checkpoint was quite a distance, or was just before a miniboss battle. There were some occasions where I caught a stormtrooper or two standing there like an statue. They didn't move unless you damaged them, and in general, when you damage a stormtrooper, you usually kill them. Another source of constant pain is snipers, and high position turrets. They annoy the hell out of you, and are way too difficult to take out - thanks to the locking system, and rather finicky Force Grip controls for chucking nonsense at them.

I still love the game, and the feeling of being godlike in Apprentice mode is something you have to try to understand. Unfortunately, some of the game's flaws can be deal breakers for some, and despite my bias, I think it will have to take a 7 out of 10 from me, despite me rushing to finish it so quickly.

(Review based on a 6-hour run through Apprentice mode. I know it's probably unfair, but hey, a lot of people are going to be going through this mode anyway. And if you would excuse me, I need to go finish Sith Lord mode.)