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Izzardius 10-11-2008 01:05 AM

Star Wars: The force Unleashed-Please rate this review
High:Force-throwing and crushing things is a blast.

Low:Camera severely hampers you in several areas, especially in small spaces.

WTF:How does a stormtrooper with a stick block a lightsaber?

Calling Star Wars a sapped franchise is a bit of an understatement. The Star Wars cow has been ridden, kicked, prodded, and otherwise abused in just about every manner possible. There has been a Star Wars form of just about every kind of merchandise imaginable (along with a host of other junk that never saw the light of day), including a lot of games. Some have been truly great (X-Wing/Tie Fighter games, Dark Forces series, Knights of The Old Republic) others not so much (Rebellion, Force Commander, Galaxies) so to mention a title among the better Star Wars games is actually attesting to it’s quality, rather than games based on The Simpsons. Fortunately, The Force Unleashed can be listed on the among the more palatable titles, because one thing the dark side of the Star Wars merchandise machine often obscures is that Jedi stuff is awesome, and the aim of Force Unleashed is to remind us all of this fact. Sadly, while showing a few flashes of brilliance, it isn’t quite the rejuvenation of the franchise that I was hoping for.

The game centers around combat, touting the ability to throw, crush, fry, and otherwise demolish your enemies using the Force, perhaps by unleashing it. Picking up hapless stormtroopers (and Jawas, Wookies, and a lot of other stuff that just begs to be Force thrown) and flinging them off a cliff is indeed a blast, along with being able to use the Force to manipulate just about anything that isn’t bolted down, and some things that are. However, the Jedi experience isn’t perfect: Force throwing with accuracy can be frustrating, as there were many times where I thought I was flinging a box right at a swarm of enemies only to send it off into oblivion. The direction of the throw is determined by the last tilt you made on the analog stick, which led to a lot of wild Force-pitches. A system of Force grab object->lock onto enemy->throw would have really helped here. Speaking of the target lock, there were also numerous occasions where the auto-targeting system would for some reason think that the box to my left was a greater threat than the big Rodian with a heavy blaster right in front of me. The camera was also a real problem in small spaces, getting stuck against a wall or inside the character all to often. A fixed camera in these areas would have been very helpful.

The physics of the various enemies/objects work well the most part, although they do make for a few awkward moments. For example, enemies will often brush up against some random object (or each other) and simply fall over, eager to become your next ragdoll-riffic plaything. There were a few (extremely amusing) instances where a group of four or five enemies would come rushing towards me only to collide with each other and fall down.

The lightsaber battles are also satisfactory, although most of the more advanced combos aren't all that useful. In some respects it felt like I was playing a fighting game: I could use the many different combos I had learned, but spamming the same move over and over was working just as well, so why bother? God of War style quicktime events are also implemented here, which work well enough but feel somewhat out of place as they usually made my character perform a flurry of DrangonBall Z style moves, which don’t really feel like they fit in Star Wars.

One particularly bothersome aspect is that enemies with normal melee weapons can block your lightsaber. Near the beginning of the game I found myself surrounded by three enemies who successfully parried my lightsaber attacks with what looked like….sticks. This continued throughout the game, as I usually had much more trouble with normal melee enemies than ranged attackers. I understand that the game has to be made challenging, but Stormtroopers with sticks should not be able to stand up to a Jedi.

While the story is certainly passable, it wouldn’t really be anything to sneeze at if it wasn’t part of a game. The Star Wars universe outside of the movies, in my opinion, is at it’s finest when completely detached from the main storyline. This allows for a much greater amount of creative freedom for the writers in a wonderful universe for such endeavors. That being said, Force Unleashed is the kind of game that doesn’t lean on it’s narrative too heavily, so while the story isn’t bad, it doesn’t really help or hamper the overall quality of the game. Honestly, the game could be called Darth Vader’s Massive Murderfest and the entire game could center around Vader walking around killing Rebels and other creatures who have a sufficient lack of faith to disturb him. I would gladly play that, because it would be awesome. Then I would eagerly await Darth Vader’s Massive Murderfest Part II: The Ewoks are really starting to annoy him.

In short, I was satisfied with the game, but not overly impressed. The faint thrill of Jedi-dom was indeed there, but in the end it's just another action game in a vast, overflowing ocean of them.


Disclosure:This game was obtained via rental for the Xbox360. About 15 hours was spent playing to complete the game once.

Parents:The ESRB has given this game a T rating. The force powers allow the player to throw/crush enemies in a variety of ways, including hurling them off of high cliffs. There is also a battle in which the player blinds one of his opponents with the lightsaber. However, beyond that there really isn't anything here that wasn't in the movies.

Deaf and Hard of hearing:All spoken lines can be read in subtitles, and gameplay is not dependent in audio.

Brad Gallaway 10-11-2008 02:36 AM

Re: Star Wars: The force Unleashed-Please rate this review
Hey Izzardius,

thanks for the piece... gotta admit you had some funny lines in here, and i chuckled a few times. = )

the good: your enthusiasm for SW comes through very clearly, and i liked the way you sort of examined all the aspects of the combat and physics.

to improve: although it was fun, the piece felt way too informal. i'd probably want to see a little more structure to it. also, KOTOR was referenced too many times towards the end... developers pretty much *hate* when we compare instead of discussing the title itself, though a few little snips would fix it.

the beginning was a little rough for me, too.. a little streamlining there would be good.

all in all, not a bad piece. you have a good voice and i'd like to see more from you. ;)

Jason Karney 10-11-2008 08:18 AM

Re: Star Wars: The force Unleashed-Please rate this review
That second paragraph contains a lot of good points. It would benefit if it were broken into a couple of paragraphs and smoothed out.

Nice coverage overall. I agree with Brad that it feels a bit too informal. Nothing that a round of editing couldn't adjust.


Izzardius 10-11-2008 02:24 PM

Re: Star Wars: The force Unleashed-Please rate this review
Thanks for the feedback. I really appreciate it. Funny thing is, when I originally had this proofread by some friends they said it was too formal. :P There was also a fair amount of cursing that I cut out for this version.

I did have a feeling that this wasn't as polished as it could have been, but I wanted to see what sort of response I'd get regardless. Thanks.

Mike Bracken 10-11-2008 08:23 PM

Re: Star Wars: The force Unleashed-Please rate this review
I didn't mind the tone, personally. The review has character.

I will agree on the KOTOR comparisons, though. I know where you're coming from with them, but the games are so different (aside from the license) that the comparisons feel more arbitrarily forced than anything.

Chi Kong Lui 10-12-2008 02:57 PM

Re: Star Wars: The force Unleashed-Please rate this review
Izzardius, the best thing about the review is that you've focused on what was good and bad about the game the game, which kept the the review relatively short and engaging. That's not easy to do so bravo to that.

If you'd like to see the review published, here's what I would like to see improved in another draft.

1. The High/Low/WTF points are meant to be more specific and detailed. Describe the single highest and lowest point in the game for you in more detail. Try to tell a story in a sentence or two.

2. You didn't include consumer advice for Deaf and Hard of hearing as part of standard format.

3. In the fourth paragraph, you say "a lot of credit was given to the story," but you weren't specific about who was giving the credit. In a rewrite, make sure you fact check all similar statements a little better.

4. Drop the final sentence and write a conclusion that is reflective of your own thoughts and experience. Do not assign value to the reader.

5. Piggybacking the point above, its prefered to avoid writing in the second person because you aren't addressing the reader in a review. Its more like a converstation with yourself.

Overall though this is nice work and I hope you stick with it.


Izzardius 11-13-2008 01:04 PM

Re: Star Wars: The force Unleashed-Please rate this review
I've made some revisions based on the comments in the thread. I decided to mostly keep the informal tone (friggin, awesome, etc.) since it was intentional from the start. I also took out all but one (in the first paragraph) of the KOTOR references. Let me know what you guys think.


Brad Gallaway 11-14-2008 03:34 AM

Re: Star Wars: The force Unleashed-Please rate this review
Hey Izz,

Thanks for the rewrite.

I think you're on the right track, but the opening still doesn't work for me very well and I do have to admit that although I do find it amusing, I don't think I'd be comfortable running a piece that is as informal as this one.

I'd also like to see you flesh it out a little bit... I think at least a few more paragraphs on the game's other aspects would be warranted.

it's a fun read and you seem like you know what you're doing... I'd like to see something else from you on a different game And with a slightly more serious tone.


Chi Kong Lui 11-14-2008 05:47 AM

Re: Star Wars: The force Unleashed-Please rate this review
Brad, perhaps a general description of the game premise/story in between the first and second paragraphs would address your concerns? Otherwise, could you be more specific about what other criticism you might be looking for as a reader?

As for the tone, I agree with Bracken in a earlier post that the review has character and it doesn't feel over the top of anything like that.

I do have two additional edits. Please edit the use of the the second person (ie you) and take out this line in the final sentence:
"although I'm glad I rented it as opposed to buying it"

Perhaps taking out the second person would tone down the informalness as well.



Izzardius 11-14-2008 02:28 PM

Re: Star Wars: The force Unleashed-Please rate this review
OK-tried to alter the tone a little bit more to make more formal (removed all instances of "friggin"), attempted to elaborate on a few things, and changed a sentences/paragraphs around to try and make it flow a little better.

Regardless of whether this gets published or not, I sincerely appreciate all the feedback. Thanks guys.

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