Not this crude matter
Star Wars: Force Unleashed Review (PSP)

(No spoilers, until a certain point where I will warn you!)

I have finally finished this game. I couldn’t wait to get over with it, because it’s really not that good.

But let’s start with the good:

  • The storyline is set between EP III and EP IV. It’s always nice to see a game that’s not about the prequel trilogy era.
  • You can play as Darth Vader! This is so awesome that’s worth repeating: you can play as f***** Darth Vader! At the start of the game, there is a brief segment where you are the Dark Lord. It’s an excellent start of the game.
  • The graphics have sometimes really nice effects, like the moving blur that accompanies the Force Push ability.

Now, on to the bad stuff.

It was advertised as God of War in the SW-universe. Well, the controls and the combos are much more crippled and in general not as interesting as Kratos’ moves. You basically have three kinds of attacks:

  • Using the square button, your character uses the lightsaber. While Kratos had many different combos for his main weapon (Athena’s blades), here all you can do is… spam the button, and different moves come out sequentially. But when I have a lightsaber in my hand, I want to control it properly! You can do nothing else with it, except for holding down square to deflect shots and holding down square in mid-air to strike down on the ground. So you are forced to combine your lightsaber attacks with your other powers.
  • The triangle button activates the Force Push ability. Holding it down, you can throw around objects and enemies. This is good. By doing a quick combo (square-square triangle), after two lightsaber cuts, there is a ground slam. It’s decent, really.
  • The circle button activates your Force Lightning attack. This is really useful against bosses, and combined with the lightsaber, it has the best combo in the game: square-square-circle sends your enemies flying into every direction - which can grant you some breathing space if you use it in the middle of enemy crowds.

There are many more moves (lightsaber throw, aerial force push, etc.), but if you master the aforementioned square-square-circle combo, you will not have too many problems in the game. Combat is very, very repetitive, the only variety lies in the type of enemies (I hate Jetpack Stormtroopers!!!), and the bossfights. In a game like this, the leveldesign and the overall atmosphere must be really good to sustain the urge to keep you playing.

The leveldesign is hit & miss. The first few levels are a bit better than the latter ones: the Jedi Temple has a certain ancient vibe to it, and the planet where you defeat the female Jedi, is really nice visually with it’s organic backdrops. But as you move forward in the game, these creative levels either get overused (you go back to the Jedi Temple three times!) or replaced by bland and grey Imperial bases. About 60% into the game, be prepared to see no colors at all up until the end of the game - everything will be grey. This is horrendous. I know, I know, Imperial bases must be grey, but I would not complain about the visuals, if the leveldesign would be creative. But it isn’t.

Compared to the God of War series where you manipulate items, turn switches and do various other things to interact with your surroundings, this game has - nothing. Literally. It sounds a bit ridiculous that throwing in a few switches/door puzzles on a few levels would improve the gameplay of SWFU, but it’s true. The only interaction you can do on the levels is sometimes when a door is closed, you have to hold down the triangle button to destroy the door and free the passageway. And that’s it. Other than that, there is only combat.

There is one point in the game, where you are attacking and Imperial shipyard, and there are some TIE Fighter panels you have to move into the right position and edge into the wall to be able to get one level up by jumping on them - but this is too accomplished by holding the triangle button down, and the TIE-panels find their way to the most ideal position for you to jump on them. Why, oh, why couldn’t the creators make this a bit harder? They should’ve let the players figure out how they can progress by just letting a few TIE-panels laying there. There is a reward if you figure out on your own that you can use the panels to get up. A few more puzzles like this, and the game is much better.

Gameplay-wise, this game is a no-brainer. Almost no interaction with objects, no puzzles you can figure out on your own, no interesting levels, nothing. Combat is repetitive, with recurring bosses and repeating game-mechanics. When you play through 70% of the game, you are so tired of it all, you just have to get over it and finish the story.

The story has interesting elements (Proxy, for example), but a few really silly things ruin all the fun that’s left in it - the ending is especially stupid:

SPOILER WARNING!!!

So at the end of the game, you defeat Darth Vader and the Emperor. But then Kota says: “He is defeated. Let’s go”, when you were just about strike him dead. WTF??? The rebels just let them finish the Death Star? Let the Emperor live? After all the things he did? Yes, it would be and un-Jedi way to kill him, but when the rebels planned to destroy the Death Star, they planned to kill Vader anyway, and later when they planned to destroy the DSII, they basically wanted to kill the Emperor too, so again, WTF???

Yes, it had to happen that way, since we know that he Emperor lives. OK, I can live with that. But they should’ve made it so that the rebels can only narrowly escape and no one gets the chance to finish the Emperor. That way it would have been a better ending. This way, it’s just stupid.

But to say something positive about the story, The final conversation between Juno and Kota is good, and I liked the way the whole romance thing was not force-fed to the audience - although for this to work better, the game should’ve been a great deal longer with many more moments between the Apprentice and Juno. However, it was still a good way to end this game.

END OF SPOILER WARNING!

Overall, this game could have been soooooo much better, if it weren’t for the horrible repetition in gameplay and bland leveldesign. If you like third person action games, I would recommend the God of War series instead. That series is not without its own flaws, but it is better than this game in every department. Which is a real shame, since I like the SW universe much better than ancient Greece…

5/10