2009 Reviews

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Ultimate Sith Ed)

  • Review Date: 2013-06
  • Release Date: 2009-11
  • Developer: LucasArts
  • Rating: 7.5

Usually, these sorts of big franchise games with a huge fanbase tend to get a little over-rated. Particularly Star Wars. I mean, honestly, the movies aren't that great.

So with a melee-combat third person game with average ratings only high-60, low-70 percent, my expectations were very low. Such a big franchise with such a poor reception doesn't give high hopes.

The game was released for consoles in 2008, so it's already got the chips stacked against it competing against 2009 games for it's Windows release. The good news is the Ultimate Sith Edition includes three official DLC's.

Surprisingly, I was not disappointed with the game. Not at all. It has it's issues which the majority have PC reviews all get right; that being the port to PC. But overall it's really quite a fun game.

The issues in brief:

• The game was obviously intended to stick with WASD key setup. There are countless quicktime events where you need to press the correct keys quickly, but if you've changed the configuration it's going to be a frustrating exercise in trial-and-error and memorising what the original keys were.

• The boss battles are pitiful. The game switches to a distant fight-game viewpoint, almost 2D with a little bit vertical movement, which is pointless because you can't aim properly. I don't know why they did this, it's completely pointless and would have worked far better just sticking to third-person. In fact, I would preferred this entire game in first-person perspective.

• The aiming. You need to lock on to enemies to attack, or objects to move them. Naturally, like most games, it's poor and you'll often be locked onto the wrong thing.

• The boss-battle where you need to bring down a Star Destroyer from the sky using the force while tiefighters attack you. This clearly hasn't been tested properly, because it's infuriating with a mouse. I spent an hour on it before I finally looked up some forums and discovered the trick to it. And when I say trick, it's not designed that way it's just a bloody poor part of the gameplay.

There are of course the normal complaints such as the game being far too linear, and it is. But I don't want a sandbox design for every game, so I personally don't mind.

The A.I. is incredibly stupid. People seem to really hate dumb A.I., and most games have it, but this game takes the cake. At one point I watched as a team of enemies slowly walked off the side of a bridge, tripping over and falling to their doom, one-by-one. However, the bosses were much smarter, almost bot-like.

So what's good? Well, in short, the combat. You have various attacks from pushing enemies in a sort of energy wave, shooting lightning, using your light-saber and even grabbing enemies and levitating them to where you want. Then you have a good dozen combo moves, a very effect double jump and fast dashes. It leads to very fun combat, in fact, one of the best most fun melee based combat systems I've ever played. I had a blast with NecroVisioN's combat, but this is even better.

The story bridges the two Star Wars trilogies, taking place as Stars Wars 3.5, and introduces a new protagonist, "Starkiller", as Darth Vader's secret apprentice. I won't go into heavy detail, but the story was a good one told very well through cinematic sequences (8gb worth). I don't know why more games don't put more effort into their cinematics.

The design and visuals of the game are decent. Honestly, there's better out there, but there are a number of unique themes in the game from less impressive internal-starships to ethereal alien landscapes and robotic junkyard worlds. It's all good enough for 2009. In fact 2009 is marking a year where even average games still look good. Interesting to note that this game was released on consoles in 2008, so it looks even better against the 2008 market.

The DLC's bring three short campaigns with a touch of nostalgia as you fight Boba Fett, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and meet Jabba the Hutt briefly. It also brings new enemies and three new worlds that look good. They's very refreshing after the main game, which was starting to get too repetitive by the end. Furthermore you get your full powers and upgrades to use, which to be honest does make the DLC's rather easy. The boss in the second level of the main game is harder than all DLC bosses.