Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Developed by Krome Studios
Published by Lucasarts
By James Wisteard
It is a truth universally acknowledged that ever since Nintendo introduced the motion-based console to the Wii, one of the growing feelings at the back of peoples’ minds has been that it would be pretty damn cool system to play a Star Wars game on. Now, after two years, we finally have the chance to wave around our dream (mock-)lightsabers and slice everything that isn’t made of air into two. Was it worth the wait? Yes, actually, it was.
First of all, let’s go over the controls. I hesitate to use the word “control” because I think “waggle fest” might be slightly more appropriate; this game easily takes the reward for being the Wii’s most motion-intensive game yet. To swing your lightsaber up, down, left or right, you swing the Wii-mote in the corresponding direction. To use a force push, you thrust the nunchuck toward the screen. To block incoming blaster shots, you hold the Wii-mote up and sideways. In boss battle “quick time” events, you tilt the Wii-mote or nunchuck at indicated angles. Picture yourself in a room with a dozen storm troopers, and you’d better make sure you have a clear area around you. Maybe attach some wrist weights too — you’d have a work out that Wii-fit will never match.
Despite sometimes feeling hectic, your character is always able to do what you want him to, which is rather impressive. I very rarely missed a jump, found myself swinging at nothing (at least in terms of my character on screen), or messing up one of the quick time events. As in most 3-D platform games, the occasional camera issue pops up, but in this game it is easily fixed by pressing down on the D-pad.
The game begins to feel highly repetitive towards the end; no enemies call for specific strategies or powers — you just run up and slice at everything. Shoot lightening here. Force push there. You’ll quickly fall into a pattern that you’ll stick with for the rest of the game, even in boss fights. This is the game’s greatest fault. Although you can upgrade your lightsaber and force powers and discover new combos on your journey, nothing really feels fresh after the first few levels.
Besides this, the graphics are definitely below expectations. I know the Wii doesn’t have the power of its next gen competitors, but the images featured here on The Force Unleashed are unfortunately identical with the PS2 version of the game. Even from that lowered standard, the graphics are often sub-par; not embarrassing, just disappointing. The Wii is easily capable of much more than this, but for some reason only Nintendo knows how to pull off good-looking games right now.
On the other hand, the music and sound effects here are just as incredible as on any other Lucasarts project. The soundtrack is full of swelling strings and familiar songs, while the sounds are pulled directly from the movies. Even the little speaker on the Wii-mote hums as you move it around, which was a great touch.
For the majority of the game, you play as Darth Vader’s Secret Apprentice, code-named ”Star Killer”. Vader starts you off on errands around the galaxy to various planets, locations, and temples, so you can execute renegade Jedis and bring back their lightsaber hilt as proof of their death. The story quickly becomes more complicated through double- and triple-crosses, lies and deception, failure and redemption. Later on in the game, you come to realize that your actions have had a very direct impact on the formation of the Rebel Alliance. It’s worth playing The Force Unleashed just to watch this unexplored chapter come together from such a unique viewpoint.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed definitely has its fair share of weakness and missed potential, but I still highly recommend it for anyone interested in anything to do with the Star Wars cannon. For anyone else, the journey may only be worth the length of rental.