Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review
Xbox 360 | PS3 | Wii | PS2 | PSP | DS
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed box art
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.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed screenshot

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.

By Jason Lauritzen
CCC Freelance Writer

The environments and effects – such as smoke and explosions – come off well. However, these are bookended by technical problems: enemies clip through walls and the game features nearly half-minute long load times.
When the game clicks, it's a rewarding experience. Throwing Stormtroopers through windows and hurling lightning can be a blast. It's too bad that more often than not you'll be fighting with the fixed camera, adjusting your targeting, and wishing the melee combat had more depth.
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voice acting is above average and the music is classic Star Wars, but that's exactly the problem with the soundtrack: we've heard these songs a dozen times before and it's time for something new.
Play Value
The Story mode is hobbled by the lackluster level design – instead of it feeling like you're exploring worlds, most of the areas feel like slightly different backdrops peppered with the same enemies. The Force Unleashed mode – featuring scenes recreated from the original trilogy – is a nice touch.
Overall Rating - Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Confront and associate with familiar faces from the Star Wars films, including Darth Vader in addition to new adversaries such as fugitive Jedi and Force-sensitive Felucians.
  • Unleash and upgrade the Secret Apprentice's four core Force powers - Force push, grip, repulse, and lightning - throughout the course of the game, and combine them for ultra-destructive, never-before-seen combos.
  • Examples of unleashing the Force in ways never thought possible: The Secret Apprentice won't just Force push enemies into walls - he'll Force push enemies through walls, Force grip them in midair, zap them with lightning, then drop them to the ground.
  • Visit locations such as Episode III's Wookiee homeworld Kashyyyk and the floral Felucia, the junk planet Raxus Prime, plus an Imperial TIE fighter construction facility.
  • Decisions made by players throughout the game will determine the path of the story, including multiple endings that will rock Star Wars continuity as they know it.

  • Screenshots / Images
    Star Wars: The Force Unleashed screenshot - click to enlarge Star Wars: The Force Unleashed screenshot - click to enlarge Star Wars: The Force Unleashed screenshot - click to enlarge Star Wars: The Force Unleashed screenshot - click to enlarge

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