While I agree with most people that George Lucas produced pretty crappy prequels to his Star Wars trilogy, I always thought that the Star Wars extended universe carried a lot of potential. Knights of the Old Republic 1/2 were great RPGs, some of the best I've played, and I enjoyed Republic Commando, Empire at War, and the Battlefront series. Although Lucas Arts was already getting flak for the production of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, I was pretty ambivalent about it. Lo and behold, I picked up a Steam copy of the Ultimate Sith Edition (the default PC version) which includes the original on sale.
SW:TFU is an action-platformer developed by Lucas Arts. The game takes place between Star Wars: Episode 3 and Episode 4, and introduces the founder of the Rebel Alliance and Sith apprentice Starkiller. The "Force Unleashed" part of the game is that you play as a force prodigy, so you get to take down star destroyers, fry people to death with lightning, and cut up wookies with a lighsaber. The game features interactive (somewhat destructible environments) and the entertainment of throwing weaklings down lava pits.
Before I even talk about the core gameplay, I'm going to rant about how crappy a port SW:TFU is. Before the game begins, I tried to customize video settings. The only video settings available are A)Change the Resolution B)Change the Brightness C) Select High Detail or deselect it. That's all the video options you have. I have never complained of a game being too much of a port until now. And when still in the game launcher (and to my disbelief), the game wouldn't detect my 3rd party controller. Keep in mind that this is the only game I've ever played that has failed to detect my controller, and I've played Lara Croft:Guardian of Light, Toy Story 3, Obscure 1/2, Lego Star Wars/Batman/Indiana Jones, House of the Dead 2/3, and probably a few others I can't think of. Considering that this is a port game, the game's more optimized for playing with a controller than with a keyboard/mouse, but I stuck with the latter, which is kinda awkward. Now imagine a game that requires you to use combos, and then having to use a keyboard/mouse to do such combos; it's like playing a real time strategy game with a controller. That is my frustration with playing this game.
Even the menu interface is retarded. I can't use the mouse on the main menu; I have to use the directional buttons. Even inputting cheat codes requires that you scroll from alphabet to alphabet like an old Sega game.
Maybe THISISACRAPPYPORT should be a cheat code
The game engine is also a royal mess. Pausing the game to access basic menu functions like options requires loading. Changing your character outfit requires that you restart from the last save point and wait an unbearably long time. Sometimes cutscenes are skippable, sometimes they're not for some reason. When playing the game on my native resolution and high detail, the game's sometimes laggy and sluggish, but there's not much I can do about it because ALL I CAN DO IS CHECK/DESELECT "HIGH DETAIL". Are you fu-king kidding me? Playing the first level with Darth Vadar was a laggy nightmare, as you can forget about complex combos with a keyboard/mouse. Worse yet, many times the game's auto-targeting gets its priorities out of whack. You can be picking up a fallen tree with the force with the intention of flinging it onto enemies, and the game would interpret it as throwing up straight up at God. Why would you want to throw a tree at God? Why George Lucas, why?
As you can probably guess, I got into the game with a pretty negative impression. However, that impression started to change after I played more and more. Gameplay wise, the game does an excellent job. Starkiller looks kinda bland, but you can change his costume, which makes him look cooler. The RPG level up system works adequately enough (FEAR, you should do this) and the game's FORCE UNLEASHED aspect is terrific for all aspiring virgin padawans out there. Everything you do pretty much reeks of style. Double jumping into the air and then force dashing across platforms is cool, jumping into the air and shocking clone troopers below you, finishing a combo with an overhand lightsaber strike which creates a field of lightning is cool, force pushing the windows out of a starship (which results in a vacuum dragging enemies out) is cool, throwing enemies into incinerating laser fields is cool, and electrifying a guy and then tossing him at his buddies as a lightning grenade is cool.
Lightning Grenade. For some reason the enemies explode.
Although the first few levels were kinda drab, the game definitely starts to pick up. As you gain a better understanding of how the game mechanics work (especially the auto-targeting), then everything kinda falls into place cinematically. Enemy variety is fair, and sometimes the game contains more than two factions at once, so sometimes you'll see enemies fighting each other.
Frying a junk metal force elemental=awesome
The levels are also surprisingly interactive and destructible. Though it's probably no Red Faction, you have a lot of freedom in using items as weapons. You can make piles of rubble collapse on your enemies, and the levels feature tons of hazards allowing you to push people onto their dooms. So basically, you do have a lot of freedom on dispatching your enemies, which is definitely a plus in my book.
The one gripe I have about the gameplay aside from its auto-aim priority problem is game balancing. While Starkiller's force power is pretty potent, his lightsaber might as well be a giant croissant, because it'll take you a combo or two to destroy some of the common enemies in the game. The game forces you to use your pee-shooter sometimes because many of the enemies have a force-resistant barrier (what?). Even some of the more mundane stormtroopers have this magical piece of technology, forcing you to go up close and hit them with your laser croissant, and imperial guards can even block force lightning while you seem to have difficulty blocking theirs. The other jedi that you fight are also tougher than you by a long shot, so accusations that Starkiller is overpowered are pretty meh. A few other gripes I had were with Starkiller's force dash, which seems woefully underpowered considering how Jedis are known for running great distances, wheras Starkiller can only dash about two meters before his heart goes out. In addition, there is no cooldown period to allow your character to get up, so when fighting crowds, don't be surprised to be knocked down by a rocket, then when you're still down to be knocked around by a few more rockets. A SDK would have fixed the balancing issues, but there's no way in hell that's going to be coming out for the Port Posterboy.
He might as well be wielding this:
The game also features quick-time events. Usually I'd be griping about it, but SW:TFU is very forgiving with them the same way FEAR 2 sort of is. The quick-time events don't require lightning fast reflexes. In fact, you can usually take your time with them, and if you mess up in the middle of one, you don't start all the way over. The events are usually pretty nice to watch, they're easy to do, and they fit/integrate well with most battles.
"STILL A CRAPPY PORT!"
Level design wise, the game starts off promising, as you'll go from many different locations and different terrain, especially if you include the bonus levels. Later in the game however, you inexplicably play through two of the same levels you already played through. The levels are the same in terrain and environments, but the design is radically different so I'll give SW:TFU that. In any case, I like how the levels are mostly interactive, encourage exploration, don't reuse things too much, and do offer different platforming/puzzle challenges. The levels don't feel repetitive, but the game's only several chapters, so you can finish it within a day if you're dedicated enough.
This Jedi temple level was one of the bonus levels included with the Ultimate Sith Edition
The only gripe I had was with one level, which was suppose to be the highlight of Starkiller's career, was when he was suppose to use the force to bring down a star destroyer (a several km long spaceship). This was a highly talked about controversy because it seems to make every other Star Wars character look like a pansy compared to Starkiller. If you pay attention to the Clone Wars animated short, you'll see Mace Windu and Yoda pretty much tossing around huge capital ships with far less effort than it takes for Star Killer to take down the SS. In any case, you're supposed to enter into a long quicktime event at the while dodging tie-fighter fire, so after moving the ship some distance, you'll have to break out and kill tie-fighters, and when you're killing these annoying drones, the SS will move back into position, creating the most annoying and frustrating boss fight in the game and can easily bring the score of SW:TFU down a notch. The game's also BUGGED, giving you the wrong button to press for the quicktime event. I made at least 5-6 attempts, until finally putting on a trainer just so that I can get that level over with. What was suppose to be the game's highlight ended up being the worse experience playing SW:TFU.
Although the length of the original campaign is pretty short, the game offers a slew of unlockables. Beating the main campaign opens up a few chapters you can play as Starkiller reincarnated as Palpatine's apprentice (the non-canon ending), which includes objectives like hunting Luke Skywalker and crushing a few rebel bases. In addition, each level provides three mini-objectives, one of which includes collecting holocrons. Completing the objectives gives you experience, which you can use to unlock/upgrade force powers, combos, or stat upgrades. Collecting holocrons can unlock lightsaber crystals for customization (change color or special ability) and you can unlock a whole assload of costumes (at least 20). Although your voice/powers don't change (would have been great to use guns), you can play as anyone from Darth Maul to Obi-Wan to Jango Fett to a Clone Commando, which is oodles of fun especially considering how ugly/bland Starkiller can be.
Move aside ugly
Keep in mind that your abilities/voices do not change
Can you still be intimidating when wearing a skirt?
Yeah, that's a clone commando readying a kamehameha wave. Awesome.
In terms of story (spoiler alert...sort of), SW:TFU pretty much flops. Starkiller and his love interest are believable as characters, but their relationship up until the last level seems more platonic/professional than romantic, with pretty much no flirting going on between them and then BAM-kissing. It's as if you started developing a relationship with the person you struck a conversation with waiting to see a movie. And the story itself is balls-to-the-wall HUH?! Vader raises a force prodigy with the intention of rooting out enemies of the empire...the same enemies that never existed until Starkiller was assigned to rally and organize them to draw them out. So you have no enemies, so you piss people off until you have them, and then you kill them because you intentionally made them your enemies. The Sith must be the most stupid people in the extended universe. In any case, the story's really secondary and unnecessary, though the cutscenes are only skippable half the time for some porty reason.
The game's system requirements for the PC are noted here:
OS: Win XP SP3, Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 5200+
Memory: 2 GB
Graphics: 3D Hardware Accelerator Card Required - 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible 256 MB Video Memory with Shader 2.0 support (Radeon HD 2900 or Geforce 8600)
DirectX®: Directx 9.0c compatible
Hard Drive: 30GB
Sound: Directx 9.0c compatible
Controller Support: XBox 360 Controller for Windows
Supported ATI Chipsets: ATI Radeon HD 2600, 2900, 3650, 3690, 3850, 3870, 4550, 4650, 4770, 4850, 4870, 5890
Supported NVIDIA Chipsets: NVIDIA GeForce 8600, 8800, 9400, 9500, 9600, 9800, 250, 260, 275, 280, 285, 295
Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core 6000+
Graphics: 512 MB 3D Hardware Accelerator Card (GeForce 9800 GT)
I recommend meeting or exceeding the recommended system requirements. When playing the game with my current notebook when it had 2 GB of memory, the game would noticeably lag, though it's not as noticeable with 4 gb. Playing the first level as Darth Vadar was especially frustrating as there was a heavy use of shaders. The game clearly isn't optimized for the PC. Usually, even for ports, I would play with the settings, usually disabling or lowering shadows when this happens, but the only real options you have for changing the performance of the game is changing the resolution and enabling/disabling High Detail, so you're stuck with what you've got. The game would automatically lock at 30 FPS max, and no, there's no demo available so make sure you can play the game before you buy it.
The game's most game-stopping bug is the boss battle with the star destroyer, the most @$-ramming and annoying level in the entire game (frustratingly so). Other things that I wouldn't call bugs but should be fixed I've already mentioned above: the lack of mouse support for the menu/keyboard support for codes, the lack of support for 3rd party controllers, and wonky auto-targeting. SW:TFU 2 has already been released, so don't expect too many updates for the first game.
Because game developers stop supporting a game after its sequel comes out. Now shut up and put your gold bikini on.
This game's a total port, so no, there's no SDK available, which is a shame because although the gameplay balance is mainly satisfactory, there's a ton of balancing issues I'd like to resolve.
The game costs about $12 at Amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Star-Wars-Force-Unle...5152&sr=8-1 but typically retails for $30 (yikes). The sequel was recently released, so I expect the price to drop to under $10 while I'd say is more worth its value. It's more fun than Dead Space, but it's also more frustrating. If you can play a demo before getting it, I'd give it a whirl before you jump into the game.
I got into the game absolutely hating it. However, when I reached the later levels and replayed the game again with my 4 GB of ram and with a better understanding of the game mechanics, I found the game to be a much more satisfying and entertaining experience. The gameplay, with the exception with a few balancing issues and the $hitty boss battle with the star destroyer, is very satisfying and very fun. However, the game suffers from a supreme lack of polish, and the game is such a terrible port I'm surprised they bothered to release it on PC. That's really the main problem wrong with the game. Hopefully the sequel will be better (but I already know the story is stupid as $hit). I wouldn't mind seeing a game with this gameplay but for a RPG that allows you to make your own characters (TFU + KOTOR), because the gameplay really does work well. I'd probably give it a 9 if my controller worked with the game, and maybe a 10 if I could have gotten it as a decent port with a SDK because the overall gameplay really is that good, and how many games really let you do this?
Under that giant bronze globe that I've electrified is a pants-wetting storm-trooper, and yes, I dropped it on his head.
- First off, make this game a better port. Support controllers, give more graphics options, let me use the mouse on the menu and keyboard for cheats, let me skip your crappy story, and stop with all the insane loading
- This may or may not be port related, but fix the auto-targeting. If I'm lifting something heavy, chances are good that I want to throw it at enemies and not at the ugly stain on the wall
- Why are so many enemies in the game force resistant and why is the lightsaber so weak? It's a legendary weapon, make it legendary. Or give me a SDK so that I can change that.
- Better story, but I doubt this is going to happen. Hell, just make cutscenes skippable and that'd be great.
- To be honest, this game could get a 10 if you kept the core gameplay, and maybe made it more RPGish with character selections and different backstories instead of just focusing on Starkiller. Just saying.