When I was a kid I wished I was Luke Skywalker. I also wished Princess Leia wasn't his sister. Sure I was a troubled kid, but I lived for Star Wars. More than one hundred Kenner action figures, trading cards, comics, and later books and of course video games. My love for the original movies have never faded, but George Lucas has done his best to soil what is left of my undying love of a galaxy far, far away. I considered using the phrase "George Lucas raped my childhood" in this article, but I'm healed now and I have moved on... I can actually see episodes one to three now, and appreciate them for what they are. Mediocre entertainment for a young audience with lots of shiny special effects.
The Force Unleashed tampers with uncharted Star Wars territory - the years in between episodes three and four. You take the role as Starkiller, Darth Vader's secret apprentice as he fights off the remnants of the Jedi Order, while struggling to decide his own fate. It's sensitive for a Star Wars fan as it touches on stuff leading up to A New Hope, and it also shows Vader's ambitions long before he asks Luke to join him so that together they can rule the galaxy as father and son.
My hopes for The Force Unleashed started out high, but with time they have faded. Delays, lay-offs, and the demos I've seen have sent my anticipation in a downward spiral. Now that I have gotten my hands on the final product, some of those concerns remain, while I'm positively surprised by some elements.
I enjoy throwing storm troopers, wookies and rebel around, destroying Tie Fighters and feeling rather overpowered and omnipotent. I'm not too happy about the implementation of quick time events - it breaks up the flow of the action in my opinion. So far I have only unlocked a few extra force powers (you buy new powers and make old ones stronger with the experience you collect), and I anticipate there will be even more variation once I have unlocked more powers.
The physics are well implemented although you should not expect to be able to destroy everything around you. Sometimes the controls feels a bit wobbly and stiff, but the interesting thing is that you always have many ways to attack your enemies, and this sense of freedom is the real strength in The Force Unleashed. I cannot, however, help but feel that the game could have benefited from more polish. The artificial intelligence is at times strange and enemies sometimes stand where they are not supposed to be able to stand (on thin air for instance).
I'm just a few hours in to the game, but so far there are both positives and negatives. I hope the story develops in a direction I'm going to enjoy, but the start has been surprisingly promising.
For more on Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, check out my interview with Cameron Suey from Lucasarts.