Sunday, September 28, 2008

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed PS3 Impression

A young boy watches as his father is stricken down by Darth Vader only to himself draw the dark lords attention, and learn there are things worth than death. Vader sees power, raw power in this child hidden on Kashyyyk that can be used, crafted to destroy and usurp the Emperor, but secrecy and time will be needed. As the time approaches the young apprentice embarks on a mission from Vader, to destroy one of the few remaining Jedi, Master Rahm Kota. As he departs with his pilot, Juno Eclipse, and his holo-droid Proxy, a series of events begin to unfold that sees Sith betrayal, the formation of a Rebellion and a bridge between two classic trilogies.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed from LucasArts is not a cheap cash-in on one of the most memorable trilogies and its prequels, it’s a unique entertainment experience that goes beyond gaming and lives within the official canon of the Star Wars universe. The secret apprentice hunts down the Jedi General Kota as well as the last council Master Shaak Ti to prove his worth to a master who cares nothing for his mental or physical health nor his appearance or comfort. His identity is kept hidden, known only to Vader, his droid Proxy and sultry pilot Juno Eclipse. There is deep conflict in this young one, neither a Jedi nor a true Sith. He wields the force with power not often seen as he embraces both the dark and eventually light side of the force.

The story is this games strongpoint, and one that should not be ruined. There are many pieces that mirror what Luke’s goes through, his conflict with being at his fathers side, desire to save his father, be by his side, unfortunate Vader does not see the apprentice as his son, but just a tool. The beginnings of the Rebellion, end of the old Jedi order and a not Jar-Jar’ish sidekick are all encountered. It’s a truly special game for fans of Star Wars, but for gamers looking for an action adventure worth the dime … well it’s a mixed bag.

Graphics are solid next-gen, but not the best seen on the system. For the first LucasArts title on next-gen it’s a good effort. Utilizing the Havok physics engine along with DMM (Digital Molecular Matter) and euphoria has helped LucasArts craft a fun to play in game world. Havok does, well physics, DMM handles the environmental physics while euphoria handles the acts, movements and emotions of the characters. What’s it mean, the apprentice can be a badass and all the objects and people who get in the way will react how they should. Moving and using a lightsaber has never, never, felt this good and natural and the button placement of force powers (Push, Grip, Repulse, and Lightning) works really well. There are tons of combos to master, but most won’t be needed. The gamer truly feels like a force wrecking ball as LucasArts mentioned in the past. The only hang-up, sometimes the camera gets lost in the action and it’s quite possible to get lost in a corner, force grip the wrong item, little things but pains when you die. Voice action actually fits well with Episodes I-III as it’s overacted at times; feels forced as the relationships (apprentice, Juno) never get the back-story they deserve.

Summary; while not a classic action game, this is a classic Star Wars game. Gamers will enjoy the Force powers and physics controls, Star Wars fans will eat up the story and LucasArts execs will be thrilled because they’ve crafted not only a solid game, but a story worthy of the big screen, and if the Clone Wars can make it there, why not a conflicted apprentice?

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