Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Updated Impressions - Gameplay, Graphics, Story

LucasArts shows off its impressive Star Wars action game, offering a glimpse at the intense combat and sharp visuals.

If you need more proof that video games are reaching the same league as movies these days, just take a look at Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, the upcoming action game from LucasArts. The Force Unleashed will get almost the same full treatment as a movie, given that it will be supported by a wide variety of ancillary products, including a novel, action figures, a miniatures line, a comic book, and more. However, at the heart of all this is a game that will let you play as Darth Vader's secret apprentice, a budding and powerful young Sith tasked with hunting down the last of the Jedi knights. LucasArts finally unveiled the gameplay to us recently, and this is looking like one of the most exciting--and easily the most beautiful--Star Wars games ever.

The Force Unleashed will fill in a lost chapter in the Star Wars saga: basically, what happens between Episode III and Episode IV? This is a period when the Jedi were scattered and hunted down, the Galactic Empire consolidated its hold on the galaxy, and apparently Darth Vader was secretly grooming an apprentice to help him one day overthrow the Emperor. You'll play as that apprentice and go on missions for Lord Vader, but your existence must be kept a secret, so this will give you an opportunity to battle rebels, Jedis, and any unlucky Imperials who happen to get a glimpse of you. The developers consulted heavily with George Lucas on the story and characters, to the point that what happens in The Force Unleashed is now considered Star Wars canon.

If the goal of The Force Unleashed is to make you feel like an incredibly lethal killing machine, then it looks as if the designers have accomplished that. The first level shown to us has the apprentice running through a TIE Fighter assembly station, which a rogue Jedi has taken over. The apprentice let loose with a variety of powerful Force powers and lightsaber moves to dispatch the enemy. Force push doesn't just knock an enemy back; it can hurl a group of enemies through the air, as if they've been hit by an explosion.

Then there's Force grip, which lets you grab someone or something and dangle it in the air. This is a great demonstration for the game's Euphoria technology, which is available only in the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game. Euphoria basically gives all enemies self-preservation instincts, so they'll act and behave as if they want to stay alive. If you dangle someone in the air, they'll try to grab something--anything--for dear life. This isn't a scripted movement, but it's all completely procedural and dynamic. Moving on to more powers, there's good old Force lightning, but instead of simply being able to zap bad guys, you can also infuse your lightsaber with lightning to make it more powerful. Later on in the game, you can use lightning and Force grip to create living bombs. Just pick up an enemy using grip, charge him with lightning, and then hurl him at a target to create an explosion.

You are Darth Vader's secret apprentice. Have fun with that.

One of the ideas in the game is to let you be as creative as possible when it comes to combat. You're not just slashing at enemies and toying with them using your Force powers. There's a fair amount of environmental interaction in the game. Most levels will have a mechanism of some sort that will provide you with a steady supply of objects that you can manipulate. For instance, in the TIE Fighter factory, fresh TIE Fighters come off of the assembly line. You can then use your Force powers to grab them and hurl them in someone's faces; or, even cooler, use grip to hurl someone into the path of an oncoming TIE Fighter. On a junkyard world, magnetic lanes keep a steady supply of junk flying overhead. On that same level, you might need to use lightning to power up engine turbines, which will then fly off and smash into objects. Execute a cool kill and the game will switch to a payoff camera that gives you a cinematic view of the action.

There will also be environmental destruction, thanks to the game's Digital Molecular Materials system. Basically, this means that objects will behave like you'd expect. If you use Force powers to bash in a metal door, the metal bends procedurally. (One neat thing is that you can bash a door open, go through it, and then use Force powers to bash it closed, thus preventing enemies from following you.) If you use those same powers against organic material, such as giant alien mushrooms, they'll bend but won't break, creating a cool swaying motion. Meanwhile, glass will shatter, whereas wood will splinter, and so on.

The next stop on our demonstration was the planet Felucia, which was briefly seen in Episode III. This is the alien world full of giant purple mushrooms, as well as inhabitants that are Force aware. This means that they're not only resistant to Force powers, but some of them may also have powers of their own. Then there are the giant rancors, the two-legged monsters of Star Wars, one of which was seen in Return of the Jedi. Battling the rancor will require you to use those lightning bombs previously mentioned, but if you whittle away at its health enough, you can perform one of many vicious kill moves, which range from jumping atop its head and stabbing down through its skull with your saber to just hurling your saber through its eye. (When it opens its mouth to scream, you can see the blade jutting into its throat.)

Your Force powers are potent and varied.

The final level that we were shown was Raxis Prime, the junkyard world. The entire opening of the level is pretty dramatic once you realize that you're standing atop a crashed Star Destroyer; if you look down off of the ledge, you'll see the distinctive, buckyball-shaped shield generators on the bridge superstructure. The goal on Raxis Prime is to take out a Jedi Master named Kazdan (which is not a reference to Empire Strikes Back screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan). The trick is that Kazdan has created Force golems, which are basically Force-animated constructions that are highly resistant to your powers. The battle with Kazdan himself will be a challenge.

Although it sounds as if you're going to be a complete and total badass throughout the game, the designers say that the theme of The Force Unleashed is that of redemption. Does that mean the secret apprentice will discover the error of his ways and change sides? We'll see. It'll be interesting to see how it all pans out, and how his relationships with the other characters in the game change. For instance, there's Juno Eclipse, an Imperial pilot who serves as the apprentice's pilot aboard the Rogue Shadow. She's also the love interest. The apprentice is voiced by Sam Witwer, who was seen in The Mist, Dexter, and Battlestar Galactica (in which he played the pilot Crashdown). Eclipse is voiced by English actress Nathalie Cox.

The Force Unleashed will ship for the PS3 and Xbox 360, but other versions are also planned for the Wii, PSP, Nintendo DS, and PS2. Though the underlying stories will be the same across all platforms, there will be differences between most of them, as well as unique content designed for the platform. The PSP version will feature historical battles from the movies, whereas the Wii version will have some levels that aren't in the Xbox 360 or PS3 versions. In the Wii version, we saw a Jedi temple level, but more importantly, LucasArts demonstrated how the Wii Remote is used for lightsaber attacks while the Nunchuk is used for Force powers. The designers also showed off duel mode, which is a head-to-head battle where two players can pummel one another using Force powers. Duel mode will have nine arenas and plenty of unlockable characters, and the goal is to kill your opponent three out of five times. It can make for a fairly wild battle, considering that players can kick in temporary invulnerability, or use a Force unleashed boost to double their Force powers. A timer runs down throughout the entire affair, and if it ends, the game goes into sudden-death overtime.

The Force Unleashed gets unleashed this summer.

All the versions of the game we saw look spectacular. The Wii version obviously doesn't look anywhere as good as the PS3 or Xbox 360 games, but compared to other games on the platform, it still looks busy and fluid. LucasArts showed off the Xbox 360 game during the demonstration, and it's easily one of the best-looking 360 games that we've seen. The colors and visuals are just bright and sharp and eye-catching, and the level of detail is extremely high.

Unfortunately, LucasArts wouldn't discuss multiplayer for the 360 or PS3, but there's still plenty of time before the game arrives, so we expect more updates in the near future. The Force Unleashed will ship for all platforms simultaneously sometime this summer, and this is definitely one game that you should keep an eye on.

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84 comments
esbye
esbye

It looks great, the graphics on wii arent as good as ps3 and 360, but the gameplay kicks ass!!

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I hope it dose to but it has really bad graphics i saw the gameplay version

sandman004
sandman004

God i hope it has havok and dmm.

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Gorthin
Gorthin

i thought there was euphoria for wii??????????? *sob* that looked especially cool though gamespots been wrong before AND THE PEOPLE MAKING THE WII VERSION DIDN'T CALL IT A NEXT GEN CONSLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i wish game developers would be clearer

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gamerman1202
gamerman1202

Star wars for the wii was always going to happen its just now down to lucas arts to see if they can pull it off without destroying the star wars name even more But still the game looks good and i personally dont care about the euphoria engine the ps3 and 360 have polished graphics the wii has an improved combat scheme and the combat was one of the things that has let star wars games down in the past

Darkman159
Darkman159

This game is going to be legendary. The duel mode looks awesome with 27 characters. I personally prefer the wii version since it contains the exculsive controls, exclusive duel mode and the same exclusive extra 5 missions that the ps2 contains. 360 and ps3 only have nice shinny graphics with euphoria and all that stuff but i heard that lucasarts developed a new engine for ps2 also which i would guess would work with the wii. So yeah the wii version sound the best for me.

EnozmeH
EnozmeH

Wow... hopefully they don't over hype the game t an extent where it leads to a let down. Looking forward to this game, it' should keep me busy for the fall :)

kelseyxo
kelseyxo

Sigh... doesn't really look as if they are emphasizing the Wii version.

MaceKhan
MaceKhan

I still haven't heard anything about a PC version, in fact the most recent "news" about a PC version I can find is an April Fools joke from last year. And all versions of this game have been pushed back to Q3.

CyberByte727
CyberByte727

What about a version for PC? I didn't see any mention in the preview. Does anyone know??

MaceKhan
MaceKhan

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MaceKhan
MaceKhan

So far I have not heard ANYTHING about a PC version, so I wouldn't get my hopes up.

JTpcwarrior
JTpcwarrior

Man, I've been waiting for a new star wars game for the wii and I am excited. I have to follow jamesnorman though. What about the PC?

willripyouanew1
willripyouanew1

" All the versions of the game we saw look spectacular. The Wii version obviously doesn't look anywhere as good as the PS3 or Xbox 360 games" NO DUH!

MaceKhan
MaceKhan

I heard that even though the Wii version doesn't have Euphoria it has a program that does the same thing, just not as state-of-the-art. So those of us planning on getting the Wii version won't be completely without.

spider-manfan45
spider-manfan45

i can see the gamespot-review .... bad graphics............. oh 6.7 fu fu

Sepewrath
Sepewrath

The Wii version sounds like it can turn out very well, but I am really interested in seeing what I can do with that Euphoria engine. So PS3 or Wii version, tough choice at the moment.

ninjarat
ninjarat

For the graphics I'm tempted to get the PS3 version, but the level of interaction on the wii is going to be fun. Dueling in my living room on the wii, now that's a definate plus point.

nate1222
nate1222

The 360 and PS3 versions should play like 'Psi-Ops', a kick ass game I used to own on PS2. I'm not sure if I'll get the Wii version or the 360 version. I'm sure they'll both have their perks.

silunt
silunt

So are they saying the Wii version will NOT have the euphoria 'self-preservation' technology in the engine?

cheese4927
cheese4927

Can't wait for this game to come out!

Wolfitz
Wolfitz

Duel Mode... thank you god!

crazyalex08
crazyalex08

Seems to be a good title for the Wii.

XBASX
XBASX

I saw the early techdemo which showed the awesome ragdoll physics in the game. I hope it's gonna be worth waiting for.

cheese4927
cheese4927

This game is going to be so f***ing awsome

detroitpistons0
detroitpistons0

It seems like Manhunt with a star wars twist. The Rancor thing seems awesome, and the human bomb thing is, too. I can't wait for this game!

Vile13
Vile13

A-mazing looking!!! I wants it bad!

Ritly
Ritly

I WANT PC VERSION!!!!!!!!!!! I got a wii so it's good.

chico12
chico12

i had a dream.. that one day the wii remote would act as the lightsaver but i think its not happening yet

Can-o-Mark
Can-o-Mark

I dont care that much about the Euphoria. To be honest, from what Ive seen so far it just looks like it turns Stormtroopers' hands into sticky notes. It will probably add to the experience, but Im far more interested in the DMM. And that is something the Wii (most likely) cant do. The Wii is capable of some pretty good physics though (look at games like SMG and Eledees), so I hope they utilize a decent physics engine to compensate for the lack of DMM. EDIT: Heh, perhaps I should have read the article before commenting. So it seems the game will feature DMM. Which is awesome.

townsenda1
townsenda1

The Wii version will have to include the Euphoria, if not this title will be behind the PS3 and Xbox 360 titles. This title is too big not to keep up with the other versions. Not to mention using the Wii remote to control the lightsaber is amazing. Just hoping they don't make it like Red Steel. Definitely getting this one. Who's with me?

Deluka
Deluka

if the Wii version won't have Euphoria, then you're missing out on the realism that will make the gameplay better on the 360 and PS3 version

gtarmanrob
gtarmanrob

mmm. lightsaber battles with the wii mote

Shanekeener
Shanekeener

NO MARIO KARt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! mario kart isnt a good game but did you know there coming out a light saber for the starwars games for wii?im planing on geting the light saber smash bros. brawl and star wars the fore unleashed!

wiiwat123
wiiwat123

Well you odviously use the wii remote for your lightsaber and force powers. It looks cool but I'm saving my money for brawl and mario kart.

Shanekeener
Shanekeener

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Yo-gan
Yo-gan

Looks awsome, i wonder how the Wii graphics will turn out like? since the Wii version wont be a PS2 port like usual the graphics have some good potential (im not saying they will be as good as the Xbox 360 or PS3, but still good in their own right) and im looking forward to seeing the control method.

lavis8
lavis8

looks sweeeeeeeeeet even tho i know nothing about star wars. I wonder what the controls will be like

ringwraith58854
ringwraith58854

Ya know, after i spend a summer working 16 hour days, six days a week, so I could buy a decent computer, you'd think that LucasArts would have the basic human decency to make a PC version of this.

mrjam0
mrjam0

im hoping that the two player version isnt some thrown together vs mode. but this game is also being developed for the ps2, so that might very well happen

URError
URError

So the Wii version isn't a port? Sweetness Unless it is a port then Not Sweetness