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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review

Is it a force to be reckoned with?

Nintendo gamers have generally been luckier than others when it comes to getting good Star Wars games. From the original Star Wars on the NES, to the GameCube's excellent Rogue Squadron games (via the Super Star Wars series on the SNES), the movies have been well-represented on various the Nintendo systems over the years. However, the recent LEGO titles aside, there hasn't been a decent 'serious' Star Wars game for a number of years. Does The Force Unleashed change this? It does, actually, but only to a certain extent.

The game is set between Episode III and Episode IV in the movie saga and acts as a bridge of sorts between the old and new trilogy. You play as Starkiller, a secret apprentice to Darth Vader, and the majority of the game's first half sees you being sent off to various different planets and killing the last of the remaining Jedi.

Click to view larger image
Before you get to do any of this however you're treated to a short prologue level which sees you playing as Darth Vader. In this level you have to find and defeat a Jedi while killing loads of Wookiees. It's effectively a training mission of sorts but it's a nice way of showing off the different force and lightsaber powers you have and gives a sense of the power you can expect the apprentice to have by the end of the game.

Don't Force It

That said, there's not a huge difference between the apprentice's abilities at first and those he has by the time the story reaches its final chapter. As you defeat enemies you gain a blue essence which gives you points. You use these points to gain new abilities, which you can 'buy' or upgrade from a list in the pause menu. While there are lots of moves on offer though, you start the game with most of them in your possession, meaning once you've bought the four or five new abilities (which you should be able to do by the end of the second level or so) all you're doing for the rest of the game is powering up the skills that you already have. That's not to say these skills aren't impressive, of course. More importantly though they're also extremely satisfying to pull off, partly thanks to the game's controls.

When you strip it down to its most simple elements, the control system is as follows: the Remote represents the apprentice's lightsaber, while the Nunchuk controls his various Force-related powers. This simple setup makes basic moves pretty straightforward, and it doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out that swinging the Remote makes the apprentice swing his lightsaber.

Click to view larger image
What's nice about it however is the way in which these swings are linked. Rather than any old swing resulting in one basic move, as is the case in a lot of lazily-developed third-party games, The Force Unleashed picks up four different swings: upward, downward, left and right. While this might not sound like a big deal it greatly adds to the sense of immersion.

Combo Number Five

Even better is when you realise that combo moves can only be pulled off when you start mixing slashes. The game punishes you by making sure that simply flicking the Remote down all the time never really leads to any smooth lightsaber combat, and as a result it forces you to mix your swings to make your combat flow better. This may seem like bad game design but in fact it's a clever way of forcing the player to feel more like they're actually fighting with a lightsaber. The usual 'swing, swing, swing' gameplay would have been pretty mindless but it's immensely satisfying to swing a lightsaber downward at an enemy then follow up with a quick left-right slash combo, because you genuinely feel like you're playing a part in it rather than just triggering set animations.

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Comments

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  1. Falcon1991 Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 11:54

    I can't wait to get the PS3 version.

  2. Topcat14 Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 12:28

    Yea i'm gonna get it on 360 and might rent it on the wii later on lol. This game got alot of bad reviews for all consoles though :( I hope it's not gonna disappoint too much!

  3. jobiwan Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 12:31

    i dnt know why people are aying they wont buy it cos its too short, i juts bought a 360, and call of duty 4, that game is short i blasted through that on hardened mode in afew hours, but it doesnt stop it from being an excellent game, i will be buyinh the wii version tomorow, and then the 360 version later.

  4. insanity cheese Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 12:52

    I'm disappointed by this score, but other reviewers said big Star Wars fans (like me) will see past the bad points of the game and will enjoy it. I hope they're right.

  5. tomonm Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 13:13

    i dnt know why people are aying they wont buy it cos its too short, i juts bought a 360, and call of duty 4, that game is short i blasted through that on hardened mode in afew hours, but it doesnt stop it from being an excellent game, i will be buyinh the wii version tomorow, and then the 360 version later.

    Because when you've spent £40 on something you might expect it to last a little longer. £40 is a lot of money for just short of six hours entertainment

  6. slangman Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 13:50

    Such a shame this game takes just 6 hours. I was thinking of buying it since i really liked the other Star Wars games but i can't part with £35 for a short game. Thats a rip off. Oh and kudos to the developers for nearly properly developing the graphics for the Wii instead of just porting PS2 visuals over.

  7. Sabrewulf Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 16:06

    This sounds perfect for Wii Ware at the length of time to play! It's a shame as was really looking forward to it so may wait to rent or pick up a pre-owned later on.

    ONM - Would you say this is the Wii's eqivalent to Lost Winds on Wii Ware...criminally short? :cry:

  8. Elmand Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 16:11

    i dnt know why people are aying they wont buy it cos its too short, i juts bought a 360, and call of duty 4, that game is short i blasted through that on hardened mode in afew hours, but it doesnt stop it from being an excellent game, i will be buyinh the wii version tomorow, and then the 360 version later.

    Because when you've spent £40 on something you might expect it to last a little longer. £40 is a lot of money for just short of six hours entertainment

    *Cough* Nintendogs *Cough*

    However, I'll say screw the reviews I like star wars. After the demo on 360, I can't wait to get the game, it's the storyline and great gameplay that'll keep me hooked and Ill certain do several playthroughs on higher difficulties for achievements and to see all the endings.

  9. LordYoshiman Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 16:12

    My reccomendation? The PSP version. Yes THAT version.

    Well think of it like this:

    Wii Version if you like Multiplayer with the Duel MOde.

    PSP version if you like Single Player. They have history missions where you recreate parts from the movie!


    Plus both those versions have most levels. To be honest, all the PS3 and 360 versions have going for them is the special effect stuff. I have the PS3 demo and it's decidedly "meh".

  10. hulkbuster Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 17:56

    :shock: 6 hours is that true :?: just 6 hours for £40 quid :?: i like starwars games most of them are great but 6 hours gameplay and the cost puts me off :!: i think are get the new WARIO game for wii next week instead :!: :!: .

  11. lemonlips Thursday 18th Sep 2008 at 21:00

    no need to spend £40 on a game, play.com does them all for 30

    to me a 6 hour game is perfect, I've found I've lost patience over the years. I used to geek it up on final fantasy for whole weekends, now Lostwinds is about all I can take

  12. Dan663 Friday 19th Sep 2008 at 17:39

    well personally my advise is to just rent it, its like only a 6hr game with little to none replay value (unless you want to do it on other difficulty settings) from blockbuster its £5.95 for a week so it gives u plenty of time to do everything on there, the only prob is i dnt no anywhere that has wii games to rent, i have 3 blockbuster stores near where i live and none of them do wii games to rent (so i just rented it on the 360 :D )

  13. Rnald Friday 19th Sep 2008 at 18:31

    Its brilliant.

    Customization options are great and there is loads to unlock.

    I'm playing through it at the moment and think its brilliant, I hope its not as short as mentioned though. (Even if it is, unlocking evrything and duel mode will keep me going)

    So far I'd say 95% and at how great it is been for the first couple of hours I'd say it deserves a gold award even if it is way too short.

  14. GamerKid Sunday 21st Sep 2008 at 11:15

    This sounds perfect for Wii Ware at the length of time to play! It's a shame as was really looking forward to it so may wait to rent or pick up a pre-owned later on.

    ONM - Would you say this is the Wii's eqivalent to Lost Winds on Wii Ware...criminally short? :cry:

    wiiware isnt big enough

  15. gilly006 Monday 22nd Sep 2008 at 16:38

    why did they give star wars only 82% when they've been ravin about for nearly a year if its so gd why not slap a gold award on it right now its pointless gamers expectations will be for a game which is not as gd as they billed it up to be

  16. Smew Monday 22nd Sep 2008 at 19:03

    This is a dissapointing game - despite the excellent implementation of the force powers and lightsaber action the game is essentially a hack and slash affair. Not to mention that fans buying the wii version of this game will miss out on the improved cinematics of the other console versions (which actually serve to tell the story much better through improved facial expression and better character animation). In fact the wii version even misses out plot elements from the story as it appears in the other console versions - such as proxy's primary programming and why a particular member of the cast cannot use force powers after he is defeated by the apprentice. It's sad because the wii is actually capeable of much more than what is on offer here - once again the game feels like a PS2 port with well implemented wii control instead of a wii experience that has been built from the ground up. Having said that i have played the 360 version and the wii control mechanics actually make up for these shortcomings. Even so the length of the game is absurdly short and easy given that death in the game has no consequences, and the ability to chose new outfits and customize your lightsaber feels very tacked on - indeed the customization could have gone further offering Maris brood's Tonfa like sabers or darth maul's staff affair. The force powers are good but they could have implemented more of a puzzle element to the game - one of my favourite moments was realising that you had to throw barrels and computers across an impasseable gap to destroy the death star's grappling beam - though this is the only thing in the game that could really be called a "puzzle". This game is okay but the £40 price tag is absurd for a game that only lasts 6hrs - even a 2nd playthrough doesn't make the price anymore acceptable.

  17. Rnald Tuesday 23rd Sep 2008 at 16:52

    This is worth a few playthroughs and there is duel mode.

    At least 15 hours so people should stop complaining because the experience you get in return for the apparent 'shortness' makes up for it.

    After completing it though I must decrease my score to 91%. (It is deserving of the gold award.)

  18. Komodo_Wolfgang Thursday 25th Sep 2008 at 14:23

    would have made it cooler if they pursponed it for the wii motion plus :P
    I haven't got it but Im just wandering... is it worth getting? ok its cool n all that. but they say its far far too short... so is it worth it?

  19. Kolo67 Monday 29th Sep 2008 at 18:33

    I cant belive it's only got 82%! How could you? I know its only 6 hours long, but you could still give it something like 88%! The best thing will probably be the controlls, but for that it can have another 6%.
    What do you say?

    P.S: Can someone please tell Nintendo to talk to microsoft and let us have Halo on the Wii! :D

  20. keegan Monday 6th Oct 2008 at 16:00

    I cant belive it's only got 82%! How could you? I know its only 6 hours long, but you could still give it something like 88%! The best thing will probably be the controlls, but for that it can have another 6%.
    What do you say?

    P.S: Can someone please tell Nintendo to talk to microsoft and let us have Halo on the Wii! :D


    This is a waste of money for the wii or the ds just get it for ps3 or the 360 where there is quality in the game and storyline.

  21. XtraGamer Wednesday 8th Oct 2008 at 18:55

    How can you only give it 82%

  22. XtraGamer Wednesday 8th Oct 2008 at 18:57

    This is a waste of money for the wii or the ds just get it for ps3 or the 360 where there is quality in the game and storyline.

    What on earth are you on about! The Wii version is the best, with the duel mode. Why is everyone saying the game is worse on the Wii? I think the game should get at least 90% its brilliant. Besides you can make the game last much longer than 6 hours!

  23. My name is Earl Friday 17th Oct 2008 at 18:52

    This was a waste of £35 pounds. There's not even a stage select and to collect everything you have to play the games loads of times to get everything. DON'T BUY IT

  24. denzilcracker12 Monday 20th Oct 2008 at 20:30

    i fink this review is totaly wrong i loved the game that much i played it twice
    at least 95% its one of the best wii games

  25. Kolo67 Saturday 14th Mar 2009 at 20:08

    Great PS3 game.

  26. nospaceman Saturday 30th May 2009 at 12:30

    I love playing as old classic characters by using cheat codes.

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