The Force Unleashed Demo Review

By Mike on 7:21 pm

Filed Under: ,

Ok, admit it, you loved force dropping stormtroopers into bottomless pits in the Jedi Knight series of games. That was what made Jedi Knight such a great series, the ability to wreak havoc with the force. Sure you could shoot guys with guns too but where's the fun in that? It's been nearly two years since LucasArts has released a major platform game other than the Lego Star Wars series. The Force Unleashed is rapidly shaping up to be one of the most anticipated games of year for Star Wars fans. Today, the demo version was put up on PSN. Was the force unleashed or was the game just not up to its medichlorian count?

In the game, you star as Darth Vader's secret apprentice, code named Starkiller. This was actually George Lucas's original name for Luke Skywalker and it has since appeared as an easter egg in some Star Wars content. Most notably in Knights of the Old Republic. The demo gives you a small taste of the TIE Fighter facility, a level early in the game which has appeared frequently in the promotional material. The game is a hack and slash type where you get to basically rampage through the facility destroying everything in sight. Square button is your basic saber swing and you can block by pressing L2. The apprentice is quick on his feet and can pull off some impressive moves. At this point though, there's not a heck of a lot of difference between this and similar games like Devil May Cry. You can also supposedly unleash combo attacks but I haven't figured out how to use those properly yet. Of course few Star Wars games would be compete without force powers. You get a few basic powers from the beginning of the game, O button controls your force push. You can use it to push objects and break through doors or hold the button down for a charged blast of kinetic energy. Triangle controls your force lightning. The Apprentice can only shock a single enemy but presumably he'll be able to use Force Storm at a later point. L1 controlls force sprint, which gives a quick burst of speed, but is not as prolonged as Force Speed in the JK games. Other powers such as saber throw seem to be missing. Lastly is Force Grip. It allows you to pick up and move objects and throw them at enemies or other objects. This has been the show piece of the promotional material so far and in my opinion, it falls flat since the controls are clumsy. R2 picks allows you to pick up moveable objects, signified by a blue halo around them. Left stick allows you to move the object side to side and back and forth. Right stick allows you to move the object up and down. Releasing R2 will let gravity take over. Moving the right stick in the direction you want to throw the object, and then releasing R2 will do just that. The whole system just feels overly complex and unintelligent. Moving and throwing objects is precise and takes a while to get used to. There's no auto-aim so often objects will go where you don't want them to. Moving objects using grip is also a lot slower than what we've been used to in previous games and it leaves you exposed to enemies. I really think this whole system could have been simplified. It just places too much demand on the gamer.
The demo features one boss fight against an AT-ST, which has repeating blasters, laser cannons, and rockets. This can be a tricky fight if you don't know what you're doing. The walker will also try to stomp you, doing considerable damage. I wonder why they never tried that with the Ewoks? The battle takes ques from God of War in that if you wear down it's health enough, you'll be able to unleash a firce finishing attack by pressing the right buttons as they appear on the screen. After slicing the walker in two, hightwise, the demo ends. The experience is pretty short lived. The demo promises half an hour but you can beat this in 15 minutes if you have experience with these games. The final game does show a lot of promise if the story is good. The story follows Starkiller's struggle with the dark side and will explain how Jedi Master Shaak Ti escaped Vader's raid on the Jedi Temple. Aside from the TIE factory, other locals will include Bespin, Felucia, and Kashyyyk. Vader will also be a playable character in the first level on Kashyyyk according to reports. The story seems to share similarities to KotOR.

Onto the technical side as usual. I'd rate the game's graphics as being average. They're decent enough but there's nothing eye popping about them. The graphics aren't bad but not the best on the PS3. The demo runs at 720p. I didn't notice any frame rate issues. Audio is decent with fresh music added, but it's still kept in the classic John Williams style. The big technical stuff in this game is Digital Molecular Matter and the Euphoria engine, which create realistic physics and AI. DMM makes objects react in the same way they would in the real world. It's neat blowing apart doors with the force, or using objects as battering rams. The doors bend open realistically. Unfortunately, the demo level doesn't really show this off as well as it should. I think Kashyyyk would have been a better level for the demo to show the splintering of trees as we've seen in videos. Eurphoria gives the AI a "brain" or sorts, meaning if they get picked up, they'll try to grab onto things or shoot you. It gives an added edge to the game. Still, I think they could have done a better job showcasing this than what's present in the demo.

Overall, Force Unleashed isn't a bad game yet its nothing really special either. It's best described as a combination of Devil May Cry and Jedi Outcast with a sprinkling of God of War. LucasArts had promised that this would be the best Star Wars game of the decade but from what I've seen, it doesn't hold a candle to Knights of the Old Republic. I also personally think that the way the controls are, this would have been better suited as a PC game. I have no clue how they're going to work out the control scheme for the PSP version since the PS3 one is busy as it is. I recommend the game but it's definitely over hyped.

Score: 7.5 out of 10

0 comments for this post