Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Nostalgic and classic Star Wars story.
The series time-period in which the story in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed takes place -- shortly before Star Wars: A New Hope -- evokes a welcome nostalgia for fans of the original trilogy. Familiar characters and vehicles enjoy a fair spotlight in this game. The main character of the game -- the "Secret Apprentice" -- makes a first impression that almost instantly allows the player to identify with him, and the character is a classic Star Wars character indeed. It is a delight to take on the persona of this Jedi. The characters Juno Eclipse and Proxy are excellent supporting cast, making this quite like a classic Star Wars story. The character of Darth Vader is written and played quite well too, bringing back memories of The Empire Strikes Back when Luke and Vader duel in Could City. The setting is rich for a good plot and amazing cut scenes, of which there are a good amount. The highlights of gameplay present in the boss-like battles against AT-ST walkers, humanoid enemies, huge beasts and the like. All that you've learned dispatching the many saber fodder are applied to avoiding the boss' attacks and getting into position to deliver a little damage at a time, and the "press the correct button real fast when it appears on screen" sequences allow for fun and stylish damaging and finishing moves that have a perfect place in a Star Wars game such as this one.
The main gameplay can become tedious, especially in the later levels. It is the level designers responsibility to keep the player challenged, but the monotony of fighting more and more enemies and progressing more or less linearly through a level gets a little boring, especially when an increasing quantity of enemies designed to be a tough match for the character's abilities frequently appear. I recommend playing one level at a time when this happens. The plot -- while interesting -- at times feels contrived and an unexpected twist near the end feels downright cheap. Overall the story could even be considered a little short. I would have liked a more extended stay in the role of the "Secret Apprentice." However, the plot fits into the genre well enough. I found myself unable to choose a good costume for a level until after the level was completed and I earned a costume perfect for that level. The ability to change saber color is a nice touch, but I found myself defaulting to red most of the time, and the slight differences in shade are nearly unnoticeable.
The Bottom Line
This is a short game rich in plot and well-developed characters. It is great backstory for Star Wars: A New Hope, and super in nostalgia value with its references to the original trilogy. The main character is fun to play and the supporting cast is excellent. Some of the cutscenes are must-see. I'd recommend this game to anyone who is more than a casual fan of Star Wars and interested in material that goes beyond the movies.
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