Reviews: The Force Unleashed

A (mostly) noble effort.

It's been a while since the game was released, but the upcoming sequel inspired me to play through the original again. Here's what I think of it.

The design flaws are fairly obvious here. You're given control of an absurdly powerful force-user who gains new powers throughout the game — and, after the first level, usually ends up fighting force-resistant or force-immune enemies which render said powers largely useless. Finishing moves quickly become repetitive. Pulling down a Star Destroyer is an incredibly finicky and tedious process. At every turn, the designers give you something awesome to do — then make it a chore to actually do it. There are a few other issues here. The much-touted "molecular physics engine" is only used sometimes, and it's obvious when it's not. Likewise, the Euphoria AI isn't as noticeable as it was in, say, Grand Theft Auto IV. Still, for all its flaws, there's a decent amount of enjoyment to be found here. The controls are responsive and the action is fast, and when you're fighting enemies who can't resist 90% of your abilities, it's a lot of fun.

Where the game really shines, however, is the story — or at least the execution thereof. It's a blatant piece of Fan Wank (overpowered force-user who's not only Darth Vader's previously unmentioned apprentice but in large part the inspiration for the entire unified Rebellion as well, and the sequel even has Boba Fett popping up), but it's extremely well-written Fan Wank, and the voice-acting is uniformly excellent. The protagonist, fittingly, is a total God Mode Sue, but he's also a very likable character dealing with issues we can relate to, on some level.

And that's my favorite part of the game. It's the story of the most dysfunctional family ever. Poor Starkiller. His only father is Darth Vader — who actually seems to care for him, in a twisted sort of way. His best and only friend is a droid programmed to kill him — and there is genuine affection between the two. And he just wants to impress the new girl in town — who's driving him from place to place so he can hunt and kill people for his father.

I think that's the real accomplishment here: showing that there are still good Star Wars stories to be told. Here's hoping the sequel improves on the actual gameplay.

My review of Force Unleashed 2

Hey guys, here's a linky to my review of Force Unleashed 2 :)