Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Ultimate Sith Edition - 2/20 hours

I was surprised when I saw the copyright date for this game. 2008. Nearly 10 years ago. On the one hand, that explains why my memories of The Force Unleashed are so dim. On the other, damn, I'm getting old. 

It really does seem like recent history to me, though I'd somehow forgotten the comedy-relief assassin/training droid and the sexy female shuttle pilot in the undoubtedly non-regulation uniform. I'd somehow gotten it into my head that The Force Unleashed was a grimmer, more self-serious story than your usual Star Wars fare. I guess I remembered that the main plot involved hunting down and murdering Jedi and just assumed that the main character was a brooding loner.

The game itself is all right, for the most part. The best way to describe it is that it does that thing that games do when they're designed for a brand new console, where it goes overboard with the console's novel capabilities, but then neglects the basics of game design, and graphically, it somehow manages to look uglier than a late release from the previous generation while still being unambiguously more sophisticated, graphically.

The gimmick for the Wii version of the game was motion controls (which I do miss, by the way), but for this version it's physics. No Star Wars game before or since has made the Force such an active presence in the world. You can lift a crate with the Force, hurl it at an enemy, send your target flying into another enemy, and then possibly that enemy will crash into a stack of crates (there are a lot of crates in this game) and knock it over, crushing anyone who happened to take shelter behind it.

It can get pretty wild, and the parts of the levels where you have to face a horde of enemies armed with nothing but your lightsaber, the Force, and your wits are pretty fun. What is not fun are the boss battles. Those are some serious bullshit, mostly because the saber dueling is sloppy and the Force controls lack precision (which is fine for mooks, but a total pain when you're facing an equal and every move counts). It's not enough to ruin my enjoyment of the game, but it is something I expect I'll come to dread.

I'm optimistic, though. The boss battles will likely never get better, but it is fun to romp through these Star Wars locations (despite what I said about the graphics, there are a few visually striking moments scattered throughout), and cutting loose with the Force is a hell of a lot of fun. I expect the rest of this game to go quickly.

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