The Power of the Dark Side - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - Xbox 360 -
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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

The Power of the Dark Side

In Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, we watched Anakin Skywalker fall to the dark side and take his place at the side of Emperor Palpatine as Darth Vader. The prequel trilogy told the origin story of Darth Vader, but it didn't tell us why the galaxy shudders at the mere mention of his name. Star Wars fans have been left wondering, ''Is he the 'chosen one' from the Jedi prophecy, or is his legacy that of the Emperor's puppet?''

In The Force Unleashed, we finally see Lord Vader in his prime. This game bridges the gap between movie trilogies, and with the blessing and guidance of George Lucas, is an official chapter of the hallowed Star Wars saga. We not only see why Vader is a symbol of the Empire's might, we experience his wrath firsthand. Vader is playable only for the first level, and although our time under the mask is brief, it is a study in Force-powered brutality. Vader is an unstoppable killing machine and his control over the dark side pushes the Force far beyond anything we've seen before. LucasArts did a great job sculpting his move set (he doesn't run, he confidently marches forward), and turning him into badass we always wanted to see.

At the conclusion of this level, control is passed from Vader to his secret apprentice, codenamed Starkiller, a character that falls in line with George Lucas' lineage of doe-eyed, moderately irritating male protagonists. With Vader as his instructor, Starkiller is a force to be reckoned with on the battlefield. He's agile, amazingly aggressive, and firmly in control of the dark side. Through a beautifully sculpted control scheme that allows the Force to flow smoothly through your fingers, Starkiller is one of the saga's most talented combatants. As the game progresses, his Force powers evolve and give way to an even more impressive move set. Lightsaber and lightning become one, rancors are a minor inconvenience, and star destroyers can be taken down with the wave of a hand.

The gameplay is electric and fun, and the plethora of awesome new enemy types will make Star Wars action figure collectors salivate. You know what a royal guard can do, but what about an Imperial incinerator trooper? Fans will also be pleased to hear that this dark tale takes us to new planets and areas of familiar facilities I never thought I would see. All of the levels are loaded with highly destructible structures and sights you'll take a second to marvel at.

It's an amazing game, but there are disturbances in this Force-powered experience. Targeting difficulties make some battles troublesome, and blocking inconsistencies lead to some absurd deaths. The game offers a generous helping of checkpoints, so a death won't set you back too far. Still, it's hard to believe that enemies (especially some of the later bosses) can block anything you throw at them, even when you clearly have the jump on them. Some fights, especially on the higher difficulty levels, come down to dumb luck.

The story will also leave Star Wars fans puzzled. I won't spoil the plot's twists and turns, but there are some serious leaps in logic that don't add up. Why am I on this planet? Vader did this why?

The Force Unleashed clings to the classic video game design of book-ending gameplay segments with short cutscenes, which doesn't allow the story to grow in the ways it needs to. I'm not saying the game should feature Metal Gear-length clips, but more content is needed to tell a cohesive tale. Starkiller ends up being an underdeveloped character; you know his mission, and you periodically see his emotions flare, but you never really get an idea of who he is.

The Force Unleashed isn't the ultimate Star Wars game - KOTOR is still king in my book. But, as advertised, it amplifies this mystical power in new ways to delivers exciting gameplay and unforgettable Star Wars moments. It'll leave you wanting more, but take my word for it, it's worth playing just to see Vader Force-throw wookiees.

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Second Opinion:


After years of unsuccessfully trying to move things with my mind, I finally know what it feels like to wield the Force. This chapter of the Star Wars saga transforms players into a walking catastrophe, displaying the amazing offensive potential of the dark side as you throw, impale, and generally humiliate legions of foes. No matter how many times I whipped my lightsaber at Ugnaughts or tossed stormtroopers from dizzying heights, I never tired of the explosive action. While using the Force is fluid and intuitive, the rest of the combat system isn't quiet as refined or responsive, mainly due to dodgy targeting and blocking. It's also a pity that the game's awesome premise doesn't have a chance to shine; you only get what you need to justify moving to the next level, and nothing more. On the other hand, true Star Wars fans will appreciate the conceptual groundwork (if not the details) established by game's events. Despite some combat irregularities and plot holes, there is one constant in The Force Unleashed: It puts power at your fingertips in a way that no game – Star Wars or otherwise – has ever achieved. This is the first game that gets the Force right.

User Reviews:

  • 7.50
    [Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Review - Xbox 360 - 7.5/10] One of the nicer perks of Gamefly and Gamestops used game deals, is you can sometime go back to must-play games and experience the ones you missed, without having to cough up $60. My most recent pickup was Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. I loved...
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  • 10.00
    Star Wars The Force Unleashed is a really good game that makes you feel pretty good.When you play the prologue of the game you play as Darth Vader when playing as him you get a taste of what the game offers.Vader is pretty as we all know when I played I was on a bridge with a bunch of people and things...
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  • 8.75
    Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was perhaps the best Star Wars game I have ever played. I loved what they did with the Force controls. Character costume changing, lightsaber color crystals, and crystal powers was an excellent feature. I believe The Force Unleashed introduced LucasArts to a whole new generation...
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  • 7.50
    This game could have been so much better. It controlled just fine and the story was amazing, but its the sub-par game play that really hurt the experience. The game play is standard hack-and-slash, nothing more. Granted the force powers are always fun to use and using the force to throw a jawa at lightning...
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  • 10.00
    I love Star Wars. I have loved it since i was a little kid. To control the force like I did in this game, is awesome. I could pick up a stormtrooper, throw my lightsaber and impale him, then force push him hundreds of feet away. AWESOME.
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  • 7.25
    I saw this game going bad for a mile away. There were a lot of bad things (aka:screw ups) in the game. the most of it was the game play. You can start shmming in the air out of no where and AI gets stuck out of no where. Theres just no hope.
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