|System: PSP, X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Krome||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Lucas Arts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 16, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Level design could be a saving grace, but it suffers from a funneling problem. Every level is laid out in such a way so you travel through a series of narrow corridors that then funnel you into an arena loaded with enemies. Sure, the backdrops are different you'll travel to locations like Cloud City and the Death Star but every level is laid out in this same kind of pattern. It doesn't help that this repetition in geometry is repeated in mission objectives. Nearly every level has you traveling to its end to kill a Jedi. This repetition in structure and objective gets so bad you'll go back to a Jedi Temple three times to do essentially the same mission.
A big bullet point on the next-gen versions of The Force Unleashed is the Ronin engine, giving the 360 and PS3 versions ample graphical polish. While the PSP is underpowered compared to its next-gen heavy hitters, it does have some detailed character models and nice smoke effects. There are issues with enemies clipping through walls from time-to-time, but the biggest technical hiccups are the load times. Levels take half a minute to load and that's on the newer slim model PSP that can cache UMD data for shorter loads. If that weren't enough sometimes the game will stall in the middle of a level to load more data.
The score is not unique in its own right it's mainly the same familiar Star Wars tracks we've heard since the original trilogy movies but it gets the job done. It would have been nice to hear something new that fit within the universe. The voice cast is enough - though its armed with a minimalist, generic script does a decent job of giving a compelling performance.
The Story Mode of The Force Unleashed can be completed in less than 10 hours, however there are a few extra modes to grab player's attention. Duel mode lets you fight characters one-on-one, whereas Order 66 pits you against wave-after-wave of enemies. Unique to the PSP and by far the best extra is the Historic Mission mode. Here you can play out scenes from the original trilogy, such as Luke Skywalker's rescue mission at Jaba's palace in Return of the Jedi or the duel between Darth Vader and Luke in Cloud City from The Empire Strikes Back.
All the elements were in place for The Force Unleashed to potentially be the best Star Wars game yet. Unfortunately, all these elements didn't come together to assemble a solid title. Instead, we're left with a game that's more impressive in the design stage than when it finally made its way into consumer hands.
CCC Freelance Writer