Monday, September 22, 2008

Stars Wars: The Force Unleashed

One of the perks of working at GameStop is that you get to borrow games from the store for four days at a time. Apparently, it's so that we can do 'research' and be up-to-date with new titles and experienced with games that we are selling at the store.

In keeping with this, I've been borrowing a game each week. The first week I borrowed "Infinite Undiscovery" for the Xbox 360. I ended up playing it for 30 minutes, not really liking the controls and then not playing it the rest of the four days. I hear the plot picks up about four hours into the game and I imagine you get use to the controls but I didn't enjoy it and it doesn't get my recommendation.

Second, I borrowed "Mercenaries 2: World in Flames" for the Xbox 360. It seems to be very similar to Grand Theft Auto, except with the addition of being able to destroy different parts of the environment. I played this for a couple of hours, got bored and sick of completing the little objectives and that was it. Fun, but not a must play.

Finally, over this last weekend, I borrowed Star Wars: The Force Unleashed for the Xbox 360. I feel obliged to review my thoughts on this game.

First of all, a disclaimer. I only played the 360 version of the game and I played through on the easiest difficulty, one because I had four days to beat it, and two because I'm lazy and wasn't looking to play something challenging.

The concept behind the game is that you are playing as Darth Vader's secret apprentice between the time frame of the third movie and the fourth movie. He sends you out to hunt down various Jedi and then through some plot twists you end up gathering together the Empire's enemies in order to start the rebellion.

This is a very linear, action game with some platforming elements tied into the game play as well as "button time sequences" when fighting against bosses or various larger enemies. As you progress you get "level ups" in a sense that allow you to unlock new combos, force powers (strengthen really since advancing the game unlocks the new powers), and status increases that enhance various categories. Also, there is a collection element to the game in the form of different power ups that will either give you force points, some item like a light saber crystal or a cloak, or a rank up point that can contribute to upgrading one of the three different elements I mentioned earlier.

What I enjoyed about the game was mainly the Force Lightning. Being able to shoot lightening out of yourself and fry everyone around you is one of the most enjoyable things a person can do. It's small and simple, but frankly, it made this whole game for me. There are lots of force powers available, like the force push, being able to pick up things and people and throw them around, a force lightning shield and this force shockwave, but the lightning was the main power I used because it is so effective. As you go through and gain access to all these abilities, I imagine you'll end up like me, forgetting about all but one or two of them for long stretches and sticking mainly with whatever is your favorite.

The only major gripe I had with the game was the platforming elements. They give you free control of the camera, so you can rotate it around, but it doesn't make it any easier to determine exactly where you are going to land. By "using the force" you have the ability to double jump, but it isn't always clear what is a platform you can land on and what is part of the background. I wish you could use your force grip ability to levitate or lift yourself onto higher platforms, but sadly this is not an option.

Overall, I enjoyed playing through the game. I don't think I'd buy the game, but it's worth a rental if you have 10 hours to kill and you're looking for something fun to do with the time.

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