Polished off Star Wars: The Force Unleashed this afternoon, and it was a pretty fun thrill ride from start to finish.
I have to admit that I had heard the gameplay had some problems before I started it, so I set the thing to Easy and I'm glad I did. The developers have a real over-reliance on snipers and people firing from a distance which wouldn't be so bad except that it's far too easy to get knocked down and fall into a gang rape as you bounce back and forth between enemies. There's nothing more frustrating than getting ping-ponged without the chance to really do anything, and even on Easy it happened to me more than I like.
I had also heard a lot of people griping about Force-resistant troops, but I didn't find this to be a big deal. Evidently in some of the "expanded universe" books and such that go beyond what the movies covered, people come up with some Jedi-proof gear. Really, it makes sense to me. If the Empire is always fighting those rascally upstart Jedi, then of course they would pour resources into building up some special troops that can fight back effectively. Besides that, those Sith are always backstabbing each other, so I could totally see the Emperor keeping a small cadre of guys around for when Vader’s feeling surly.
Anyway, rough edges aside, the graphics were pretty phenomenal (especially the environmental design) and the music was classic Star Wars stuff. From a production values standpoint, it was sharp, but the real draw here was that the story was excellent. Better than anything Lucas has turned out since he started crapping all over the Star Wars mythology with the new trilogy, I really liked the main character (although "Starkiller" is a pretty stupid name) and I also got quite a kick out of his super-cool droid sidekick, Proxy. These characters were great, and the way the events of this game blended into the series timeline was quite clever. The developers did a great job fitting the pieces together.
(I hate to turn this blog post into a laundry list, but I do have to say that most of the boss battles were pretty impressive, except for the terrible static camera views. Still, there is a certain thrill when locking sabers with some of these enemy Jedi, and the endgame combat bits are pretty stunning… EXCEPT for the incredibly stupid "crash the Star Destroyer" sequence. Positioned to be an awe-inspiring display of the Force, it's instead a completely pointless and boring exercise in frustration that totally misses the mark.)
All in all, I enjoyed the game a lot more than I thought I would, and the Force Unleashed can certainly sit next to Knights of the Old Republic in the "games that should be official canon" club.
Oh, one last thing… there’s one DLC mission pack available entitled Jedi Temple. Costing 800 Microsoft points ($10) it's grossly overpriced. Although a slew of new costumes are included, the mission itself is only ten or fifteen minutes, long and includes a few really frustrating sections thanks to infinitely respawning enemies. It looks pretty and centers around the "battle your dark side" conflict that every Jedi must go through at one point or another, but for the amount of content provided, it's highway robbery. The Force Unleashed is Recommended on Easy, but the DLC is Not.
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It -is- official canon.
I dunno about the KOTORs, though. Or why people think the story in TFU is so special. I mean, of course it’s hands down better than the prequels…because they were awful. But other than that and the admittedly clever conceit of Proxy, it’s pretty boilerplate Star Wars stuff that mostly serves to justify you showing up at whatever spectacular killing field they’ve got planned for you next. It’s a fun game, worth renting, but mostly because it’s gorgeous and you get to kill lots of people with the Force.
get into the story like that. I don’t like it when an attempt is made to connect the prequel trilogy to the original, mainly since it reminds me that Episodes I, II, and III actually exist 😛