I finally beat: Star Wars – The Force Unleashed

Actually, I finally posted on beating Star Wars – The Force Unleashed.  I actually beat it a couple of days ago, which was a couple days after it’s release.  I beat the whole thing in about 3 sittings/days.  Not a long game at what was probably about 8 hours, but not too short either.  I felt compelled to play through quickly to experience the story.  This is a game that deserves the compliment sandwich.  It has so many absolutely great things going for it that are counteracted by awful, horrible Dark Sides.

+ The Story.  Everyone is going to mention this when talking about the game.  It has a Star Wars story.  It’s not the greatest thing ever written, but it is leaps and bounds above the new trilogy.  It manages to look good while referencing material from them; that’s a hard feat.  In fact, it even bridges them into the original continuity; an impossible feat.  After playing through this game, you at least have a slight respect for the plot the new trilogy tried to tell and how it relates to the original trilogy.  This is coming from someone who hated episodes 1 and 2, and thoroughly disliked (not quite hate, but close) episode 3.  I can’t go into much detail, but as the game begins you are Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, performing assassinations of the few remaining jedi.

Actually, that’s a lie.  The game begins as you are Darth Vader, killing Wookies with max force powers.  And it is very awesome.

– Force Power balance is not always consistent, however.  Push, for example, is Vader’s primary ability in the first level.  And in the remaining part of the game you will *never* achieve this level of destructive power.  Sure, that may emphasize how great Vader is, but that’s not quite as “fun.”  After the first level, I waited until I, too, could force push Stromtroopers haplessly around effortlessly and eagerly anticipated seeing what may even be the end-game version of that power.  That moment never came.  Force Grip suffers from a similar fate.  At the highest level I expected to be able to pick up everything within view.  In game, however, at max level you get to pick up 3 things.  Just 3.  I’ve been spoiled by Psi-Ops’ excellent telekinesis/grip that this version just seems disappointing.  Sure, none of you have *played* Psi-Ops, so this will probably be new, exciting, and neat.  But it’s only 2nd best.

+ Force Powers are not consistent, however that doesn’t always matter.  Lighting and repel  are so powerful you may forget you have others.  Anyone immune to lighting in the game can generally have their defense broken by hitting them with a couple melee attacks.  Then lighting (or push, grip, etc) will work.  Other characters will block everything but lightning.  This results in a lot of convulsing, spastic, and electrocuted enemies.  Not as much variety, but incredibly fun.  The turning point comes when you get Level 2 lightning as see your main character raise up both arms Emperor style when zapping some helpless (or not so helpless) trooper.

– That feedback, however, is not universal.  When you are hurting some of the more basic enemies it is very obvious you are dealing damage.  Some of the more defensive enemies, however, are harder to break.  More so, it is harder to determine when you are actually hurting them.  Sometimes you can get lucky and knock them down or stun them, but other times their taking damage animation is very similar to their defensive stance.  Maybe you found an opening and you should pound away.  Maybe you are about to be countered b/c he’s actually still blocking.  Shrug.  This goes triple-true for boss fights.

+ The combat is fun.  The basic core gameplay components are solid and fun to use.  They are tricky to handle at first.  Much like Devil May Cry, your character is actually incredibly weak health wise.  Take just a few shots and you will go down.  And it is also impossible to avoid a decent amount of the attacks, so you will continually be taking damage.  The trick is that for every enemy you slay, you will regain a massive amount of health as well.  This makes the combat quick, fast, and leathal as you hop from target to target, taking damage and then healing back up.  If you fail to be lethal, then you’ll be killed a few seconds later.  Initially this is very off putting, but it is one of the few ways a game can make you look incredibly badass without removing the challenge.  While you are badass, you’ll look awesome and be progressing at a steady clip.  Mess up a couple of times, and you’ll look foolish and dead.  If you replay the demo 3 times, by the third time you will see what I mean.  Enemies fall swiftly, and the game’s pace works well.

– Unless they hit you into a corner.  Half of my deaths were because a Rancor hit me into a wall, ran up, and never let me escape as he slowly beat me to death.  I’m fine with a Rancor being a lethal opponent.  The problem is the 30 seconds it takes for him to finish you off.  Each time as you stand he knocks you down.  It’s frustrating and not well balanced since the encounter assumes this *won’t* be happening to you, so they throw in a few dozen more enemies to make it more challenging.

+ Level design may be rudimentary, but it looks gorgeous.  Each scene can be panned and enjoyed.  Combined with the classic Star Wars songs at all the right moments and you’ve got good presentation (minus this shitty loading the menu decides to barf out every time you access a sub-menu.  Think viva pinata but in a God of War style game without the cute leaf effect).

– GOD DAMN STAR DESTROYER!  This boss fight alone merits mention.  It is one reason to *not* recommend this game to someone interested in Star Wars, but doesn’t deal well with frustration.  This fight is broken.

It’s boring.

It’s difficult.

It’s not fun.

It lacks feedback.

It can go on forever.  Literally.

The pattern of this fight: kill TIE Fighters so you get a chance to pull down the Star Destroyer.  The pulling is a minigame which is represented by thumbstick movement.  The onscreen indicator’s, however, are misleading.  You only have about 30 seconds to perform a series of movements that puts the Star Destroyer’s nose pointing down and pull before the next TIE Fighter wave comes in.  If you do not complete the entire thumbstick sequence then you deal NO DAMAGE to the boss.  What’s more is the life bar is not represented anywhere.  You may *think* you are getting closer to your goal; but this is a lie.  Eventually I learned I could simply force grip the TIEs out of the sky by mashing the button as they approached.  This made the previous 45 minutes of throwing rocks at them unbearable, but also brought my a little piece of mind and made the remaining 20 minutes more focused on the thumbsticks.  Even if you get them right you still need to perform the minigame 3-5 times.  This does not include the waves of TIEs you simply kill to regain health, since each shot from them takes 1/6 of your bar and stuns you long enough to get hit 3-5 more times.

I’m not alone as a few other reviewers have mentioned the exact same problem.  The playtester and designer of this stage managed to make the coolest sequence in the trailer the most mundane and frustrating action.  I would rate it as the worst boss fight I have ever played.  In anything.

+ Ok, hard to follow that with a positive.  In fact, I’m still pissed at it…

– Fuck you, Star Destroyer boss fight.

+/- The euphoria, physics, and dmm that were hyped are all present, and good, but underused.  Most everything is instantly destroyed or killed by you so you have very little exposure to the tech.  All you really get to see is everything disappear from view quickly b/c it can’t afford to populate the screen and slow things down.

Alright, the other fights, and most of the game is quite fun.  I recommend playing the demo multiple times to get a hang of the combat.  If you then have fun taking down troopers then you’ll probably enjoy the game.  If you like Star Wars then you should play the game or go read the novel that came out.

It’s not the greatest game ever made, but it’s an enjoyable action romp with issues, and also has electrocuting Storm Troopers.

4 thoughts on “I finally beat: Star Wars – The Force Unleashed

  1. I had finished this game a while ago. I thought that this game was good, but as with most Star Wars games, I use what I call the “Star Wars rating system”. What that means is that if it was a game that completely sucked and would have received a “1.0” if there were no Star Wars characters involved, no X-wings, no light sabers, no death stars, I give it an automatically start with an “8.9” because it has all the aformentioned items. This does tend to skew my results a little bit, but I don’t care. It’s Star Wars.

  2. I agree to an extent. Star Wars can project mediocre games up a few points, or great games into awesome. It is hard to save a shitty game, though. This, I would say, is between mediocre and good. It has moments where its combat comes together better than God of War. But there is enough frustration and bad design to follow.

    What this means, though, is anyone on the Star Wars scale has three games they need to play:
    Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2
    Republic Commando
    Empire at War

    I’ve played through kotor and republic commando and can heartily recommend them to any gamer. If you like star wars you’ll probably love them. Empire at War is still on my queue, but I really liked the demo when it came out and it’s made by the original Red Alert 1/2 guys.

  3. Hi dude, I have a question, because I acquired this game yesterday and the bosses are kicking my ass. When it shows in the screen that is time to shake the controller, I just proceed like that and starkiller makes the movements as to kill the bad guy, but the bad guy recovers with about 30% of the energy!!! It has happened to me about 7 to 10 times and it is so annoying, do you know if this is normal, or probably I am not shaking the controller as I should, please help…

    • This the Wii Version? If so, which boss?

      I know that the Star Destroyer recovers all of the current “phase’s” health if you don’t input the correct actions on the Xbox 360 controller.

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