Monday, August 25, 2008

A Hands-On Look at Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Geeks rejoice! A brief playable demo for the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Unleashed has hit the Xbox Live Marketplace. Taking on the role of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, code-named “Starkiller,” players are tasked by the Dark Lord of the Sith himself to eliminate a Jedi Master who is attacking an Imperial shipyard. Vader gives you free-reign to cut down anyone in your path—including Imperials—to ensure that the Emperor has no knowledge of your existence. If it moves, feel free to get stabby with your lightsaber. Barring that, there is that whole Force thing that enables you to throw enemy soldiers around like rag dolls or fry them to a crisp. Hey, Sith happens.

Judging by the demo, players have a lot to look forward to the multi-platform The Force Unleashed, which hits U.S. store shelves on September 16. Having played the Xbox 360 version, I liken the gameplay to the God of War or Devil May Cry series in that combat relies heavily on combos and special attacks that players can chain together with devastating results. The demo takes players through part of an early mission in the game—Starkiller’s Force powers are not fully developed—but one still gets a cathartic thrill out of dispatching an entire squad of Imperial Stormtroopers in mere seconds with a well-timed Force Push or lightning blast. If the game’s goal was to show just why the dark side of the Force is so appealing, then they’ve absolutely accomplished that goal. And because the much-touted environmental and body physics in this game are so finely tuned, the player really does experience the sensation of power that this title demands.

However, the demo isn’t perfect. Matt Sloan’s performance as Darth Vader seems a bit flat during the demo’s opening cinematic, hardly imitating the iconic aural menace of James Earl Jones. Also, while the demo is short and only hints at the gameplay possibilities, one hopes that there’s more to the finished product than slogging through easily-dispatched enemies. Sure, having full and unfettered control of the Force may be what Star Wars fans have always wanted, but button mashing is tedious with or without a high midichlorian count.

All in all, this is a promising demo that any Star Wars enthusiast should download immediately to tide themselves over until The Force Unleashed is available for purchase. Heck, even if you're just a casual gamer who can't tell an Ewok from an Ugnaught, the demo's worth a shot. If you’re not at least a little impressed by this demo, then, as Lord Vader might say, “I find your lack of faith disturbing.”


Doomed True Believer said...

I am VERY exite for this game!!!

Anonymous said...

MMMMMMM im gonna eat this game up!

Brad Tilles said...

I just played the XBox demo yesterday and found it really fun. I wonder how the Wii version will work with the wiimote.