Level Up: Star Wars - The Force Unleashed

By Samual Cale on November 12, 2017 from Level Up via Connect-Bridgeport.com

With the next installment in the Star Wars saga approaching with the holiday season, I find myself looking back on my favorite Star Wars games. Today we will be taking a look at Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, which was released in September of 2008. This is an action packed single player game that I have played from start to finish several times over the years.
In the beginning you play as Darth Vader as he visits the Wookie homeworld, Kashyyyk, on a mission to hunt down a Jedi that had escaped order 66. After defeating him, Vader find a young boy in the Jedi’s hut with powers so great that Vader mistook his aura for that of a master. Vader takes the boy as his own apprentice and trains him in the dark side, teaching him to use his hate and aggression, always promising that one day they would defeat The Emperor together.
The boy becomes known as Starkiller, and Vader sends him to hunt down the last remaining Jedi to test his power and eliminate enemies of the empire. However, the promises of a Sith are always hollow, and they are prone to betraying one another.
Before the first mission, the player meets Starkiller’s two contemporaries, his training droid, Proxy, and his new pilot, Juno. Proxy has the ability to appear as any number of individuals, is extremely durable, and has numerous built-in lightsabers. We meet him as he ambushes Starkiller in the form of a young Obi Wan Kenobi. His primary programming is to someday kill his master, which makes their relationship as friends quite peculiar. Juno is Starkiller’s newest shuttle pilot, and there is an immediate tension of attraction between the two.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is packed to the brim with fast-paced action. You must use Starkiller’s powerful, nearly primal, force powers and lightsaber skills to fight your way through each level. You can chain together lightsaber strikes in deadly combos, which can be made even more effective by adding a force power such as force push or lightning to it.
Another option is to send powerful blasts of energy at enemies, flinging them and nearby objects into walls and off  ledges, or you can pick up normal sized enemies and nearly any object and throw them with lethal force. With each level, you unlock new abilities, such as force lightning on the second and repulse on the third. As you progress, you will be able to upgrade your abilities, gaining either stat boosts, added functions to powers, or no combos. You are also very mobile, with the ability to double jump and dash, and you need to use this gift to fight against stronger enemies, such as hulking, hideous Rancors. If you don’t keep moving, you may find yourself in a sticky situation.
However, some enemies don’t really seem to care how fast you’re moving, as they will find a way to land a blow anyway. The enemies most guilty of this are imperial purge troopers, which you encounter about midway through the game. These battle droids have a large amount of health, are extremely resistant to saber attacks and force push, and are completely immune to being lifted due to their magnetic boots. They can also grapple you for a devastating body slam at close range or fire homing missiles that inflict knockdown at range. In groups, they are absolutely obnoxious, as they can sometimes keep you knocked off your feet for what feels like an eternity by hitting you again as soon as you stand up. Their only real weakness is force lightning.
Something else I’d like to comment on is the ineffectiveness of lightsabers against bosses. I can see that there’s a reason they shouldn’t be cut in half on the first blow, however it feels like I’m swinging a pool noodle at my opponent near the end of the game, as their health bar barely budges from each strike.
Graphically, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is below average by today’s standards, but was pretty top of the line when it was released. The cutscenes are animated better than the rest of the game, and the appearance of the characters is almost believable. In gameplay, things look indistinct and a bit strange sometimes. The entire game has a dark, gritty look, which I think goes very well with how dark the plot is. The music in battle is exciting, and out of combat it builds tension, making you wonder what foes are around the next corner.
Therefore, I give Star Wars: The Force Unleashed  eight out of ten. It has an intriguing plot about an angry young man raised in hatred that may find redemption, the gameplay is generally entertaining, if a bit frustrating at times, and the graphics are satisfactory. As I mentioned before, I enjoyed it enough to play it multiple times, if for no other reason than to experience its different endings. The only thing about the topic of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed that I really feel negatively about is that it was declared to be non-canon in 2014, along with the rest of the Star Wars expanded universe, leaving only the six movies (at the time) and the Clone Wars television show as canon, as I feel that it has a good story that makes sense in the way it sets the stage for the rebellion in A New Hope.

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