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September 16, 2008



- The best looking Star Wars action game to date

- Great story that'll have a lot of meaning for long time Star Wars fans

- Great feeling of Jedi power



- Problematic automatic lock-on in closed areas

- The Star Destroyer Slap to the Face is enough to eradicate a lot of goodwill generated by the rest of the game

- Some bugs that shouldn't be there



Review: Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (PS2)

Review: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (XB)

Review: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (PC)



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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Score: 7.5 / 10


force unleashed          force unleashed


It's hard for me to remember a game that includes one moment - a single one - that completely obliterates any feelings of goodwill developed over the previous number of hours, especially when that one moment comes close on the heels of an event that made me say, out loud to an empty room, "Aw yeah!" The dichotomy reveals itself throughout Star Wars: Force Unleashed, a framework that could easily be extended to the overarching theme of light versus dark but I won't do that.

Taking place between Episodes III and IV, Force Unleashed opens with Darth Vader on Kashyyk hurling wookies off bridges to find a Jedi. The opening sets the mood




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for the entirety of the rest of the game, which centers around Vader's apprentice developing dark Force powers and carrying out the bidding of Lord Vader in what appears to be a plot to overthrow the Emperor.

Playing as the apprentice can be a very powerful experience since he has so many bad-ass powers. To say nothing of the many light saber combos, the Force Lighting, Push, and


Grip present some awesome opportunities to interact with the game world and lay waste to rancors, AT-ST walkers, storm troopers, and robots. In concert with one another, the pay-off for combining all these is a geek ballet that Star Wars fans will absolutely go ga-ga over. It's likely that these same people will also overlook the fact that actually using the powers reliably and accurately in confined spaces can really be a matter of trial and error because the auto lock-on mechanism can snap on to unexpected targets. A large robot can be right in front of the apprentice but instead of pouring lightning on the robot he'll light up a nearby crate. This happens far too often and resulted in many aggravating deaths while trying to flip the camera angle to a better viewing angle. And be careful of those catwalks and cliffs!

force unleashed         force unleashed

Although the Star Wars geek that lurks inside me really loved many elements of the combat, the look of the game and the way the lore and story from the original trilogy and the recent flicks all came together, including a cameo that elicited the "Aw yeah!", I can't help but feel annoyed that more wasn't done to flatten bugs from the final product. Being inside the Death Star while it's being test fired is so, so awesome, but when the sound effects suddenly cut out and all I can hear are my light saber and the John Williams score it made me blanche at giving the game a higher score.

Another dark moment for Force Unleashed is a particular scene when the apprentice brings down a Star Destroyer with his bare hands. I spent a combined time of almost three frustrating hours to finally bring it down. My one success was completed in four minutes. No doubt, it should be difficult to drop a Star Destroyer, but should it have been so difficult that I feel like snapping my controller in half? It does not help that if the stage is not done correctly on the first attempt - eliminating a wave of TIE fighters then lining up and pulling the Star Destroyer down a little; repeated until the ship is down far enough to activate the cutscene - there seems to be a bug that means you'll never be able to get the ship aligned correctly to actually pull it down. Get it close enough to the ground and suddenly you won't ever be able to get the ship lined up properly to get the go-ahead to start pulling it down. As much as I'll remember the awesome setting, the very satisfying conclusion, some really great outdoor set pieces, and just feeling like a bad ass Sith apprentice, I'll also remember the Star Destroyer Slap to the Face.

- Aaron Simmer

(September 30, 2008)

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