by Keaton Arksey
previewed on X360
A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, there lived a Jedi. That Jedi was to bring balance to the Force, and, in some ways, did so by returning to power the feared Sith, the enemies of the Jedi. That Jedi, who would become Darth Vader, would serve under Darth Sidious. Ancient Sith lore told that there would only be two Sith, a master and apprentice. That is, until now.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, developed and published by Lucasarts, aims to tell the story between Episodes III and IV; the story of the rise of Darth Vader, the aftermath Great Jedi Purge, and the birth of the Rebellion. The game begins with Darth Vader, recently transformed to the tall, dark, and evil being that we all know him as, visiting Kashyyyk, home of the Wookies. Vader is searching for a Jedi Master who went into hiding after the events of Episode III. He discovers his prey and, after killing him, finds out he has a son. The boy is taken in as his secret apprentice and hiding from Emporer Palpatine until the day Vader rises up and overthrows his master.
The Apprentice Starkiller’s first mission is to invade a TIE Fighter factory and kill a Jedi Master who is attacking the factory. Palpatine must not know, so there can be no survivors.
Starkiller is dropped off his ship, The Rouge Shadow. After being told by the ship’s captain, Juno Eclipse, that she will be keeping tabs on you, you are free to do as you wish. A few droids inhabit the hallways in which you can get used to the controls. Depending on where you look (with the right stick), you can focus on different things (locking on with the Right Bumper), from R2 droids to panels on the wall. By pressing the R trigger, you can Force grab things, moving them back and forth, up and down using the left and right sticks. By flicking the left stick, you throw the object in the direction you choose. Once you get the hang of the controls, you can move on to a starfighter bay, where a battle between Militia saboteurs and Stormtroopers is raging on. This is where you get your first taste of combat.
There are a variety of moves you can use to dispatch the two fighting sides. Of course, there is your lightsaber with the X button to slash your way to victory. Then you have is the option to just pick up explosive barrels and hurl them at your enemies with your Force powers. Just to show off how powerful Starkiller is in the Force, you can even pick TIE Fighters up and throw them at your enemies! By pressing the B button, you can Force Push your way through closed doors or send enemies that are too close for comfort hurling backwards. Halfway through you’ll level up this ability so that you can charge your pushes. Being a Sith apprentice, you will also be able to call on Force Lightning. Using all these abilities at once creates quite a calamity, and watching Stormtroopers dive for cover as you throw an ally at them who happens to be full of lightning is easily one of the highlights.
After several more skirmishes (if you wish, you can sit out battles entirely and fight the surviving faction), you are confronted by an AT-ST or Chicken Walker. While not a boss fight, the battle isn’t easy. You have to watch out not only for the AT-ST’s guns and feet which stomp away if you get too close, but a few Stormtroopers who join the fight. Once the AT-ST’s life has been cut in half, a Quick Time Event occurs in which you cut the AT-ST in half.
Thanks to the use of the Euphoria engine which gives Non-playable characters realistic AI, Stormtroopers and Militia members will grab on to ledges and barrels when picked up with the Force. If they are close enough to other NPCs, they will even grab on to them, holding on for dear life. The game looks very good visually, with detailed levels and characters and beautiful explosions.
To fit in with the whole “Episode 3.5” the game has going for it, some of the music played is exclusively created for the game. There will also be an engine in the game specifically for music, combining different elements based on the environment.
We can't be sure yet whether the combat will be repetitive after a certain amount of time, a variety of combos and upgradeable Force powers would have one to believe that there will always be different ways to take out opponents. Later in the game, flashier, deadly combos can be used on some poor saps.
Unleash the Force
From what we have seen the game looks good. With upgradeable Force powers and a variety of combos and ways to dispatch foes, the game shouldn’t have to resort to the monotony that plagues most action games. Prepare to unleash the Force later this month.