I tend to judge Star Wars games by a much higher standard than other types of game. I think it is because there are so many great Star Wars games that I have enjoyed playing – Republic Commando, KOTOR, Jedi Academy, Battlefront II (2005), to name but a few – that I expect each entry to be as great as the last. With Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, I was disappointed.
For me, the game felt hollow. Despite, for the most part, looking and sounding great, with some beautiful planetscapes and a stand-out performance from Sam Witwer, the actual meat of the game seemed to be lacking. I thought that the game handled clumsily, and that as a Sith/Jedi I was underpowered. Lightsaber combos and force powers were awkward to pop-off and, with long activation times and slow force regen, it was difficult to knit the two together.
Frustratingly, many of the bosses in the game are immune to most of the force powers. This meant you had to resort to alternating between button-mashing combos and blocking – not exactly exciting stuff. I think that almost all the bosses, as well as some larger enemies, such as rancors – need to be finished off with quick time events. Whilst these all look awesome, you feel removed from the action as you only need to push a few buttons. That’s how I would summarise this game: great to look at, but not much fun to play.
There are a lot of cool concepts in this game. The idea of being a secret assassin, a droid that can take on the form and powers of Jedi and Sith alike, even the way Starkiller holds his lightsaber is cool, but they don’t translate into a great game. The Jedi Knight games are far better at making you feel like a Jedi and they have better storylines. The only way this game distinguishes itself from other Star Wars games that I’ve played, is that it has a lot of platforming.
Too much platforming if you ask me. Especially as the game is quite linear, with most levels being little more than corridors. Part of what I enjoy so much about Star Wars games is the opportunity to explore the universe in which all these stories take place.
Having said that, would I play this game again? The answer is that I have, and probably will again. Because that is the beautiful thing about Star Wars: I love the franchise so much that even when it’s bad I can still enjoy it. I often say to people who trash the prequels, that even the worst Star Wars movie is better than most other movies. I love the Star Wars universe as a whole – despite it’s newly fragmented state with the retconned Star Wars Legends – and if I want to read a trashy Star Wars novel, or play a game that I don’t really enjoy that much, well that’s my business, just try and stop me!