Thursday, September 18, 2008

More Corran Horn than Kyle Katarn, but the Force is still strong with this one.

So, if you're like me, you bought The Force Unleashed on Tuesday. If you're not like me, who has a room-mate currently dominating the X-BoX because he just discovered Mass Effect, then you've probably beaten it. However, I would like to present my thoughts on The Force Unleashed, so read on.

So, for the un- initiated, The Force Unleashed is set one year before the events of A New Hope, where you control Starkiller, Darth Vader's secret apprentice. As Starkiller, you are tasked with hunting down various Jedi who have continued to evade Order 66, including the ever-unkillable Shaak Ti.

Alright, now that that's out of the way, let's get down to the nitty gritty. The Force Unleashed has an interesting control scheme. As a third person brawler, you mostly rely on spamming the "X" button to kill foes with your lightsaber. You can mix in your Force powers to boost your damage-dealing capabilities, and the death animations are sometimes pretty gruesome. Shocking someone with Force Lightning will lead to spastic twitches, and Force throwing someone into a laser-barrier will result in them being totally incinerated. It's a great use of Euphoria and Digital Molecular Matter(DMM) , and led to some "Oh My God" moments from my friends as they watched me bend a metal support beam into a TIE Fighter, and send it spirling into a group of hapless Stormtroopers.

As awesome as it is to send explosive crates flying at enemies, the aiming for your Force throws is sometimes a little tricky. Often, you'll fling objects and enemies in completley different directions then you intended; sometimes, you'll just lightly toss things around when you ment to hurl them. It's not intuitive, and takes some practise to get it right.

The AI is also fairly simple, and brutally punishing. Larger mini-bosses will knock you down, and since it takes a few seconds to get back on your feet, you'll often be hit again before you can recover. When trying to attack you, the AI will either run right into your face, or stand in one place and blast you. Seeing as this is essentially a brawler, it makes sense, but kind of dulls the moments that the Euphoria engine tends to bring.

On a positive note, the game looks amazing, and the music and sound effects are classic Star Wars. Composer Mark Griskey, who also scored Knights of the Old Republic 2, brings in his own style to John William's classic scores and succeeds brilliantly. The levels are beautifully crafted, and the character designs are fantastic.

The story and voice-acting, what I've seen of it so far, are also well done. Haden Blackman has penned a better story than most Star Wars properties of late, and he should be commended. This Star Wars has emotional weight and heft to it, far beyond "Anakin, you're breaking my heart!"

So, that's my quick over-view of TFU so far. Once I finish the game, I'll be back to let you know what I thought over all. So far, I'm enjoying it, and it is a sure-fire purchase if you're an old-school Star Wars fan at heart.

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