Come to the Dark side, or maybe don't.

User Rating: 7.5 | Star Wars: The Force Unleashed X360
As a piece of Star Wars–iana, or whatever you want to call it. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is awesome, better in setting and story than even the Jedi Knight games which while much better than the prequel movies still felt a little detached from the main thread that permeates the Star Wars universe. It's full of all the good things we remember like Stormtroopers and tie-fighters, and none of those stupid battle bots or Gungans. The game is almost recommendable just on that point. But that's maybe because I'm starved for some good Star Wars content.

Force Unleashed takes that good old-fashioned Star Wars magic and applies it to a more modern type of video game action/adventure. It's a third-person hack-n-slasher that's clearly inspired by games like God of War and Ninja Gaiden with maybe a little Psi-Ops thrown in for good measure. On paper, this seems great; give me a powerful fighter trained in the ways of the Force and turn me loose against legions of Stormtroopers and Wookiees with just my lightsaber. Great idea.

But in some places the execution is really off, making the game terribly frustrating in some moments and downright dull in others. Sometimes you'll be left scratching your head at why something it the way it is in the game. While it does the Star Wars universe better than you've seen in a long time, especially since it lets you actually play as Vader in the first level, things like boss and puzzle designs feel sort of lacking. The fact that the game seems so awesome at first just makes the later frustrations of the game that much more disappointing.

But maybe it just fails to make up for the games other short-comings. A lot of the puzzles involve using force grip to move large objects around – nice to see they didn't break the fiction – and even though they're not hard to figure out, they can be really difficult to execute. There's one later on where you have to line up some spinning hoops before the laser cannon aimed at your face goes off. It's straight-forward, but targeting the right spinning ring is a crapshoot.

The targeting system can often be a problem. Fighting multiple enemies at a time is pure guesswork as far as figuring out who's targeted, and switching targets is impossible.

The disappointment from playing Force Unleashed comes from some really high expectations, ones that the game sets up itself in the early going. The storyline is so good, the graphics simply amazing, the whole thing just so classic Star Wars that it almost hurts when I think about how much the game pissed me off. If you just have to play it because you're into Star Wars, go ahead. You'll surely appreciate the delights Lucas has left for you, and you'll wish they made this into a CGI movie instead of The Clone Wars. But if you like third-person action adventure games, you're not going to be putting Star Wars: The Force Unleashed into your personal Hall of Fame anytime soon.

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