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Update: added snazzy new banner I made, what do you think??
Anyway, to introduce this new feature for the site, decided to put my best foot forward and post some impressions of the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed demo. If you like this, I will continue to do it, lemme know!
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Impressions
A stormtrooper levitates before me. He is powerless, unable to control his body. He is in my control, the force is within me. Upon him, it will be unleashed.That’s how cool it feels to use the force in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Via a demo available on PSN now, you can get a good idea of what LucasArts is trying to pull off with this canon video game. However, don’t let the Star Wars gloss lead you to believe this is anything more than another “action/adventure” title.
You can either go through a short force tutorial, or jump straight into the game. I chose the latter, but I would recommend doing the tutorial first, since you will get a better idea of how to control your power that way. Once in the game, the first time you use the force to toss something or someone, it’ll feel amazing. The way the characters are animated when floating is something cool, and as they squirm and aimlessly fire, you can’t help but grin a bit. The good thing about the game is that the controls don’t seem complicated, yet they are complex. There are combos you can perform, but even if you don’t perform them or don’t have a grasp on them at first, you can still take down troops effectively. The more efficient and creative you become, the more points you will rack up. These don’t matter much in the game, and serve just to introduce you to the “RPG” elements of the game. You’ll upgrade your force power where you can hold down “O” and charge it, sending a blast so strong it knocks everything away (well, everything that can be knocked by the force, more on that later).
When you have a stormtrooper in your control, they’ll grasp onto anything they can to try and prevent you from floating them helplessly into the air (yes, even the bodies of fallen troppers). The way the CPU interacts with the environment compliments the way the player themselves can interact with just about anything. Want to pick up a TIE fighter and throw it? Go ahead. Want to throw a trooper like a bowling ball into enemies like “pins”? You can. Want to stack objects on top of each other to get to an area where an easter egg might lie? I sure did, so why not?
Scattered around the demo are power-ups that grant you temporary damage increase, health regeneration, or unlimited force. When playing some of the harder modes, I can see where these would be nessescary, but on the “normal” setting these will just give you a chance to explore how much you can do with your power, and you can do quite a lot. The lightsaber seems to take a backseat in the demo, but some things you can do is force charge it and send a strong blast of electricity out as your slash away, and throw it at foes after targeting them. Jumping is fun, albeit feels too “jumpy”, and the time it takes to land back down with an attack takes away the convenience of such an attack.
The demo also serves to show that you’ll be using your force to open doors (yay?) and not just by blasting through them. No, some will require you to shift them open, in the direction little arrows are pointing. This is where some of the pitfalls of The Force Unleashed begin to rear their ugly head.
While you can force control a lot, it stops short of everything, and it seems that the developers decided to pick and choose the definition of “just about everything”. For example, you can throw stored TIE Fighters as your little heart’s content, but don’t think that means you can pull a moving one from the TIE tunnel. Yeah, you can throw the enemies and fling them like rag dolls, but only while they have an inch of life left in them. Once they land, their bodies pull the ol’ disappearing act. How much more fun would it have been if the bodies remained, to be used as objects of your imagination. The demo ends with a battle against a small imperial walker, but forget disposing of him by tossing him aside. No, you get the classic health bar battle that ends with timed button pressing. It’s fun and very cool to play with what you can, yet once you’ve learned the limits of your power, you feel a bit less “forceful”. In addition, while I can control the force, the camera still seems to allude me. It’s a pain to turn and while you can reset it to be behind you, it’s still a pain to work with during intense battles.
Despite these gripes, I have to say that I am more interested in Star Wars: The Forced Unleashed after getting some hands-on time with it. I can’t say I would purchase it based on my play time. Since I am not a huge Star Wars nut, the story might be intriguing, but the bottom line for me is still how it plays, and right now it does nothing special. It suffers the same pitfalls of many action/adventure titles, and the only saving grace is features its borrowed from other games, ones that have been re-functioned and retooled to fit within the Star Wars universe. That’s not saying it’s on the path of being a bad title. It’s just this title has much to live up to, especially when its supposed to be a canon. The story seems to meet the expectations, but everything else isn’t too special. I’m sure the demo is just scratching the surface, but let’s just hope that beneath the surface is something so deep we’ll forget Pod Racing.