Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PS2 | PSP | DS
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed box art
System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: LucasArts 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: LucasArts 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 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good

Criticisms aside - and there are many - there is fun to be had here. It's pretty cool to experiment with the many possibilities the Force affords you. Force powers are animated very nicely, and long-time Star Wars fans will surely experience some glee as they role-play as a Sith badass. It's also a blast (no pun intended) to see the ways in which objects fly around the screen when colliding with one another. Though the 360 and PS3 versions are the obvious big boys when it comes to the physics prowess in Unleashed, the PS2 version is no slouch, either. Force pushing objects into each other results in some seriously impressive rag-doll dynamics, and in this sense alone, it's perhaps the best action the PS2 has ever seen.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed screenshot

From a graphics standpoint, the game looks pretty good on the system. At this stage in the game, players will have to readjust their expectations and remember this is a PS2 game. Character models look good with plenty of detail, and though the environments are small with little variety, the art design fits the Star Wars universe to a tee. Again, the physics engine is really stellar, and if you've yet to experience next-gen goodness, it will be hard not to be impressed by Unleashed in this regard. There are a ton of destructible objects as you journey through levels and minimal slowdown. The only time the graphics actually look bad is during cutscenes. Whereas during gameplay, the character models are obviously driven by excellent motion capture, the character models during cutscenes move like robots. It's truly jarring in the sense of remaining captured by the story, and it's one huge reminder that you're playing a game.

The audio of any Star Wars-related product is usually light years ahead of the competition, but that's not necessarily the case here. Unleashed contains all the themes you've come to know and love, but that's it - nothing new - no unique melody and cadence for Starkiller, at least nothing that stands out. Additionally, the incredible dynamics normally associated with Star Wars are absent from this affair, as there is no discernable stereo separation for the sound effects and music. Boss battles usually end with some context-sensitive, button-pressing mini game (ala God of War), but there are no cool sound effects to accompany button presses, and the mini-games end up coming off as flat and extraneous gameplay.

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In the end, Force Unleashed on PS2 feels like a tech demo. Though there are a ton of really cool gameplay elements to experience, not enough of them come together to make for a truly fun adventure. Players can squeeze enjoyable moments out of the game, but Unleashed is a missed opportunity in most respects. The story might satisfy fans desperate for anything Star Wars related, but it adds nothing of great value to the canon. There are, however, a ton of unlockables, including images, costumes, Force powers, and light-saber crystals (which change the glow of your saber). For diehards, Unleashed is probably worth a rental. Experience the story, check out the cool Force powers, and then be done with the game. For those seeking a really entertaining, action-adventure game on PS2, you should probably check elsewhere.

By Tony Capri
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
4.0
Graphics
Some environments are pretty plain, and the cutscenes are stiff and unattractive. Character models, however, look good and animate nicely, and the physics engine is cutting edge, even on PS2.
2.9
Control
In many respects, the controls make sense. However, a couple of the more commonly used actions are mapped to the L2 and R2 buttons, making gameplay clumsy. Additionally, the lock-on feature is almost useless outside of boss encounters, and Starkiller ends up with his back toward enemies far too often.
3.5
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
John Williams' famous opus is intact, but the audio lacks a discernable stereo separation. There's also nothing noticeably new, and there is a conspicuous lack of visceral sound effects during context-sensitive events.
3.2
Play Value
Though there are plenty of collectables to be found, the overall experience is quite lackluster. There are glimpses of greatness, but the promise is never fulfilled.
3.1
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Discover the untold story of Darth Vader's Secret Apprentice in the next chapter of the Star Wars saga set between Episode III and Episode IV of the movie series.
  • Explore five all-new missions and meet brand new characters not available on the next-generation platforms, designed to give players added insight into the Secret Apprentice and his dark motives. Experience epic battles in levels like the Jedi Trials and Coruscant, as well as face off against enemies never seen before in a Star Wars game.
  • Push the PlayStation 2's power to the limits and experience ultra-realistic rag doll physics as you unleash your powers on a galaxy's-worth of enemies, as well as destructible environments and objects that can be used directly in combat.


  • Screenshots / Images
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