Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Pros & Cons:
Pertaining to My short list below.



Full Pros & cons re-review coming soon...

This is a fantastic action game, especially for Star Wars fans. The graphics and artistic design are absolutely gorgeous, which draws you into the game's environments. The gameplay is dynamic, with incredibly fun force powers, an amazing physics engine, and the sound track/effects are stunningly authentic. The game's bosses take more than button-mashing to defeat, as do many of the basic enemies, making it a bit more strategic—which balances the flat out action. There's also a pseudo-RPG system in place, as you earn points to upgrade your many skills, force powers, and even your lightsaber's color. And beyond combat, there's some genuinely well done puzzles and platforming elements—a tad reminiscent of the Jedi Knight series. But the best thing about this game is its story. George Lucas himself came up with the overall outline, and oversaw the rest. I won't spoil anything, but I will say it's on par, if not in some ways better than, the prequels—it's definitely worth experiencing on your own.

There are a few negatives; Parts of this game are pretty frustrating, with many of the stronger enemies overwhelming you in certain areas, making a few of these instances feel a bit cheap, which can sometimes lead to trial & error (and even a little button-mashing). Also, there's a certain sequence near the end of the game where you have to pull a Star Destroyer out of the sky, and although this sounds really cool on paper, it's not well executed. They really don't give you any idea on how to actually pull it out of the sky (with the force), and it keeps sending Tie fighters at you (which kill you in five hits) while you're trying to bring it down. This means you have to stop what you're doing, take out the Tie fighters (which isn't easy), and by the time you finish dealing with them, you'll have to start the whole process over again.

Another nagging issue is, whenever you go into the pause menu and select any of the options, it takes 3-5 seconds to load the next menu. I've never seen this in a game before, and although it's small, it's mentionable. There were also many reports of glitches like freezing, out of sync voices, getting stuck in objects, etc. But I haven't experienced any of the above issues. Last of all, this game is painfully short (I beat it in about 5 hours). However, this issue is lessened by the fact that there's quite a bit of replay value with five different difficulty settings; two endings; and Jedi Holocrons hidden throught the game's levels, which unlock costumes, lightsaber crystals, etc.

Closing comment:
So overall, this is a solid action game, especially for Star Wars fans. And in my book, it's on par with the likes of Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, and the story actually surpasses Knights of the Old Republic's narrative--if your a really big Star Wars fan and an avid gamer, you'll like this.


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Content review for this game:
Pertaining to the ESRB rating.


Content sum up: There's no blood, gore, or (mentionable) language. And the story's tone is that of all Star Wars media, meaning, although it's dark, it's not near gritty or graphic. However, combat is extremely chaotic and violent; for the first few levels, you are playing as a Sith killing Jedi; and at the end, you can choose to be evil—which isn't too good for a younger audience. And on top of this, the game's difficulty is far too hard for kids 10-, even on the easiest setting. So, I recommend this game for ages 13+.


Full content re-review coming soon...

Violence: The story is set between Episode III and IV, and opens with the iconic "Long time ago"...and classic Star Wars crawl. Vader is sent to dispatch of one of the few remaining Jedi, who's hiding on the Wookie planet Kashyyyk. After casually destroying every Wookie in his way, Darth Vader finds the "rogue" Jedi. They fight; Vader soon (and easily) wins. When Vader is about to give the final blow, his lightsaber is yanked out of his hands with the force. Perplexed, Vader quickly dispatches of the Jedi with force choke, slowly turns around, and finds the one responsible to be a little boy—the son of the Jedi he just killed. Vader's men enter, and are about to kill the boy, when Vader retrieves his lightsaber and cuts down his own men; seeing vast potential in the boy, Vader decides to secretly train him...

As mentioned above, the first level puts you in the shoes of Darth Vader. Like Grand Theft Auto IV, this uses what's called DMM (Digital Molecular Matter technology, along with the Havoc physics engine, and Euphoria animation system), with the virtual counterparts of wood splintering realistically; metal gradually bends when you apply pressure with the force; glass breaks and cracks depending on pressure applied; and foliage sways and bends when you run through or manipulate it...During this first level, Vader can fling Wookies (for miles) left and right; splinter trees to the ground; destroy wooden barricades like they're made of paper, and pull his own Tie Fighters out of the sky. Vader can also lift enemies and toss them into each other; electrocute them with lightning; imbue his lightsaber with lightning to make it even more deadly; create a force barrier, repeling enemies; or lift individuals in the air, and then throw his lightsaber into their middle. So, it's all very chaotic, and violent, but unlike most action games of its kind, there's absolutely no blood, gore or dismemberment.

After the first level, you play as the adult (and near) fully trained apprentice. He has the same overall powers as Vader, but they start out weaker, and you'll be gradually upgrading these to full power throughout. The base gameplay consists of using force powers and your lightsaber to dispatch enemies and bosses; platforming (scaling areas with force jump); and quite a bit of simple, but clever puzzles mixed in with the action—which you solve with your many force powers to continue on. And your main objective is to hunt down and destroy hiding Jedi, in order to complete your training and prove your worth to Vader. So, for the first few levels, you are technically a "bad guy" or more commonly known in the Star Wars mythose, a Sith. And since Vader has kept you secret even from the Emperor, he has you fight (and kill) both sides, which means you most often fight Storm Troopers/Imperials, and the Jedi's men. In addition to Imperials/Jedi, you'll be fighting natives of the planets you're on (like the Jawas, Rodians, Ugnaughts, etc.) and a variety of wild creatures (Like Rancors).

The overall combat is intense and chaotic, with you getting extra points by killing targets in especially imaginative ways. You're able to fling the enemies (or objects) in any way (or direction) you want, and you'll constantly be tossing them violently into large and explodable objects (or large/explodable objects into them). And on top of this, you can, of course, shock them with lightning, and stick/slash them through with your lightsaber. When hit, enemies will scream, contort, and flail in exaggerated motions, and if you pull off an especially devastating move, the camera will focus on the target as it flies to it's death. Because of Euphoria (which creates animations in real-time, based on simulated muscle and skeletal movement, as opposed to manual, pre-made ones), enemies will sometimes hold onto objects (and each other) while you try to fling them, and they'll never quite get up the same way after falling.

Concerning the "bad guy" element, even when the apprentice is a Sith, he tends to think he's doing the right thing (as in brainwashed; he was raised by Darth Vader!). And although it is a bit tragic that you have to fight and kill these last remaining Jedi (which the apprentice feels doubtful about right off), he's really a likable character straight from the start, and doesn't stay bad for long; turning to lightside by the third level. And like all Star Wars media, the overall tone of combat is almost cartoony, the enemy feels more like targets than people (most of them aren't people), and as I said before, it isn't near graphic or gratuitous--just moderately violent.


Mild suggestive themes: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating, although it is mild) A couple of the female (one of which is very well endowed) Jedi wear bikini-like tops that reveal a moderate amount of cleavage—they're implemented with breast physics, but unlike most games with this feature, there isn't a ridiculous amount of movement; and, the main male and female character flirt lightly throughout—near the very end, they briefly kiss.


Mild language: (The ESRB didn't mention this in their rating, although it's very mild) During gameplay, Stormtroopers will sometimes say, "How the hell are we supposed to defend ourselves against that!" Referring to the main character.


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