Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Hands-On

We fire up our Wii Remotes and slash around LucasArts' upcoming Star Wars game

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LucasArts showed off a work-in-progress version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed at its recent press event, and we were able to try it out. Before you get too excited, we should point out that we only got to play the Duel mode in the game, not the single-player adventure. The Duel mode makes up one part of the Force Unleashed experience and is set up in a fighting-game format, with you and your opponent picking a fighter and a stage to duke it out on. The big hook to the mode is that it brings us one step closer to a proper lightsaber game for Nintendo's system. While what we played wasn't final, it made a decent enough first impression thanks to a variety of playable characters and the visceral pleasure of wielding a virtual lightsaber and Force powers.

You'll wield your Wii Remote like a lightsaber in LucasArts' upcoming The Force Unleashed.
You'll wield your Wii Remote like a lightsaber in LucasArts' upcoming The Force Unleashed.

The demo on display featured a handful of selectable characters to choose from, which included the game's main character--the apprentice--and his boss, Darth Vader. The roster also included characters from the extended universe, such as Mara Jade (Mrs. Luke Skywalker) and Asajj Ventress (from The Clone Wars). You'll unlock the playable characters in the mode as you progress through the single-player game. Characters will be rated on their proficiencies with using the Force, so you'll see that some have more skill than others in wielding lightning or push.

Control in the game relies on the Nunchuk and Wii Remote, with the remote being your virtual lightsaber. You'll slash up, down, and sideways to perform different attacks with your characters. The Nunchuk controller lets you move with the analog stick and use other Force powers such as lightning, which is a button press, and force pull, which lets you move objects (and your enemy) around. Physically thrusting the Nunchuk forward triggers a force push, which is mighty handy when you're trying to shove an opponent off a stage. Lightsaber combat gets an interactive twist during battle when you clash energy swords with your opponent, which kicks off a minigame. You'll have to match positioning of your remote and Nunchuk with onscreen prompts and push forward. Whoever does the motions first wins the encounter and damages foes by shoving them back.

Like any good Jedi, you'll be able to double-jump. You'll also be able to string together these various moves into combos, which will help during the heat of battle. The final piece of the battle puzzle is the "unleashed" mode, which you'll enter from time to time after you've filled a meter by successfully landing attacks. When you're powered up, you'll be able to perform super attacks to dole out extra pain. While this can be problematic if you're not the one seething with power, you'll be able to collect random power-ups, which will help even the odds a little.

The visuals in the game are shaping up pretty well on the Wii. While you won't find the sexy polish of the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 version of the game, what we saw looked good, though not mind-blowing. The character models were fine, albeit a bit jaggy.

After having tried out this snippet of the game, we're eager to see more of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, especially the single-player portion. The Duel mode is pretty basic but features enough content for diehard Star Wars devotees to create some epic fan fiction-influenced battles. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is slated to ship this September for the Wii and assorted platforms. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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