Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Xbox 360 Review

May 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Unsurprisingly for such a lucrative licence, there have been many Star Wars games over the years, though fewer that have been wholly centred around the darker side of the force. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, however, allows you to take charge of Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, making use of his godly powers, of which you can overwhelm your hapless enemies with.

It will certainly be a potential dream game to many. Not only is there the chance to well, err unleash the force, but it’s also filled to the brim with Star wars fan-service and borrows bits and pieces from cherished games.

The narrative of The Force Unleashed may be reason enough for die-hard Stars Wars fans to make the purchase. There’s some familiar faces and some interesting new characters, whilst voice-acting is of a reasonable standard. The storyline as a whole is not the most compulsive I‘ve seen from a game, though it does have some very good moments and it’s enough to serve as one of the reasons to make progression through the game.

Initially, to play, first impressions of The Force Unleashed aren’t terribly favourable. You control the iconic Darth Vader himself in what is effectively a tutorial level, where you will learn how to execute his powers, of which will of course come in handy, once you play as his more wet behind the ears apprentice. Here, you’ll see that it looks quite nice, until the frame-rate starts playing up that is. It incessantly freezes as you as Vader, with his foreboding walk makes his way through the area cutting down and tossing enemies to their doom (perhaps his mighty powers are too much for the consoles to contain) It certainly isn’t the most attractive entry point into a game, but thankfully, whilst the frame-rate remains problematic throughout, it’s rarely as horrific as this opening stage.

The Force Unleashed has the emphasis firmly placed on the action aspect. It’s essentially a typical action game, containing features that have been seen countless times in other games and few real things it can call its own. The seemingly fashionable to hate QTES are here and just as they always are, they’re fancy and dramatic ways to end your enemies pitiful lives and really fit the cinematic nature of the game.

Few will be able to deny the pleasures and hilarity of picking enemies up with Starkiller’s mind and tossing them around, but it isn’t until later in the game, once you gain access to more of his abilities, that the Force Unleashed is at its most enjoyable. A near maxed out Starkiller is especially an utter joy to control (though not half as smoothly animated as his Soul Calibur IV incarnation), allowing you to have your way with your enemies with a host of powers, of which can be linked together to craft some lovely combinations.

To gain access to all this goodness, The Force Unleashed has a simplistic RPG style upgrade system. Swatting enemies (because you’ll begin to think of them as nothing more than insignificant flies) will net you experience points, obtaining the requisite amount will level you up, rewarding you with spheres to upgrade three categories and giving you a generous degree of flexibility to make Starkiller evolve how you want him to.

There’s more to the Force Unleashed than just obliterating your enemies though. There’s the occasional simple puzzle barring your progress, that largely consists of having to move things around with your mind. There are also Holocrons hidden around each stage, which grants the game an exploration aspect that is a nice break from all the death and destruction you’ll be serving up in large quantities.

As good as it sounds, there are however some glaring faults in The Force Unleashed. For starters, it’s hardly the most polished of games. The frame-rate is inconsistent, whilst the physics can be a bit glitchy and targeting objects and enemies with the force can be more fiddly than need be. Boss fights are also a bit disappointing in comparison to similar games like Devil May Cry and God of War.

Much of the same can be said for the game in its entirety. The Force Unleashed is a good game that on occasion flirts with greatness, but there are much better examples of the genre, this isn’t to say that The Force Unleashed isn’t worth a play, because it is, but I can only really recommend you to play the better and more technically proficient games first. If you‘re a die-hard Star Wars fan you’ll most likely love this and perhaps will be able to see past its flaws.