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.

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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.
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.
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.
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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code305

I hope the game is better than or equal to the hype. with all the work they out into it i think it would success

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Ashkan_pyro

it seems they worked real hard on using force powers and materials but if the moves was more real like assassins creed & splintercell &... the game would be a lot better even maybe a 9 or 8.5

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NoSkillzGaming

Damn, why is everyone rating this an average rating? The demo seemed great so why wouldn't the game? I hope more famous reviewers like Kotaku, Gamespot, Game informer, and x-play give better reviews.

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jets78

mercs to was actualy not advertised until 2 wks before release which is bad alot of people still dont know about that game. even force unleashed if nobody saw the game online they probably didnt here about it till last wk when they started showing comercials for the game.

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masterb5

so much force so little force bar

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malintenby

I've played the demo, & it's very good once you get to grips with the controls. Could be the best Star Wars game since Jedi Starfighter.....

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walliworld

I downloaded and played the Demo... It was GREAT! Controls are easy to learn, graphics are awesome, story is good. Can't wait to get the full version!

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ranbir_flame

AAAAAWWWWWWWEEEEESSSSOOOMMMMMEEE GGGGAAAAAMMMMMEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!

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3ammak

soooo many games that had HUGE advertising campaigns lately were pretty disappointing (everyone knows im talking about mercenaries 2)..lets hope this lives up to the high standard of most star wars games

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rickalpx

please!!! be good!!!

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lReviewsl

omg this game is SICK!

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KM330

this will be the best star wars game ever made

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sieg6529

Will this be downloadable from the Playstation Store? I wants it, yes I do.

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Scripto224

Played the demo at least 50 times already bought it =D

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shiny5

cuttin that AT-ST and chuckin things around is awesome !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

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Mifflinite45

The demo was so awesome. It is so much fun destroying everything in your path using the force grip. It's also gonna be sweet because of the fact it will reveal another chapter in the star wars saga.

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theis123456

Wen cant i download the demo on xbox live with out gold member ship

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Mcents

AWESOME!!

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avannn

mexico`s independence day september 16th =D

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mike12431

This game is frickin awesome. I love how you can use force grip and all the cool saber attacks. The only problem I see is that the graphics aren't really that great, maybe it was the demo, maybe not, but either way this game is the ultimate Star Wars game. BTW the physics are pretty cool too.

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rpgNerd321

September 16th will be like christmas all over again. Can't wait for this game.

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andresss4

played the demo very good can't wait for the real game

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toritofine

O_o awesome.. i'm not a star wars lover, but this looks pretty sick..

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Redflash125

Can't wait

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Gamezster

Seems great. I'll be sure to get it. Maybe I can guilt my parents into it as a gift for the new school year... XD

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paddy-mac

looking foward to it

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pspman45

i think that the force unleashed will change the way that people think about the force. also IT WILL ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!

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ACME_IVIURSEY

I for one will be looking into getting this game because I loved the knights of the old republic and this is as similar as you can get to it on a next gen console. Multiplayer will be awesome if added and it would be cool if they added a ranking system similar to bad company's where you rank up and there are whole bunch of unlocks you can choose from as well as credits or points to level up force powers. This game looks great and I am looking forward to its release.

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Akeiro_Hisagoma

im counting the days down, 37 days!!!!!!!!!!

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awia

This game looks like it could live up the the hype. I havent been a huge fan of any of Star Wars games really. They were ok but nothing great. Hopefully this one will deliver where the others have failed.

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gangsterjc

After playin as the apprentice on SC 4 i think i might pick this up he had such bad ass moves on Soul cail 4 did u kno u can play as Vader? Srry im new to the star wars game's,I like the movies..i only played Battle front 2... so I might pick this one up... lOve force Chock love Dark side,who rlly wants to be good anymore? its funner to kill every thing!

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Cryser-Skyper

I'm definitely gonna get this game, but in the recent Star Wars games you always play as one of the dark side.I hope in this game you are able to play on both sides (but still,the good side is nowhere near as cool as the dark side).

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Sith009

What about PC version?

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The_ripster88

it looks grate...But be nice to see a game like this with the freedom of kotor then that would be one hell of a good star wars game.

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Jusik

i HAVE to get this game and i AM gonna get this game no doubt about it it looks AWESOME!!!!!!!!

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dark51

I think they should make an "M" rated Star Wars game. That would be SWEET. Gears of war Star Wars kinda thing.

Avatar image for Jonesy914
Jonesy914

@gibson - so that's basically Star Wars KotOR...lol :P i like the fact that your the main character is customizable, since i have KotOR i really enjoy cutomizing the character :D This game generally looks amazing and should be a lot of fun being an evil guy! mwuahahaha... :| ye...

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gibson3231

they should make it like mass effect where what you say and do affects everything

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singerr

looks nice

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mikeyg756

I think this game will be a major let down. I'm staying away from this game untill i hear what people say about it. Darth vaders secret apprentice? thats pretty stupid. They could of came up with somthing a bit better than that, It sounds like the developers 10 year old son came up with the idea. Anyways i better not say anymore, it could turn out to be ok, but it looks like another one of those hyped up peices of trash, like alone in the dark was.

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Lamb0fFilth

shweeeeet

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megamaster32

This game looks alot like starwars jedi outcast

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mike12431

The physics of this game look rather promising, although Lucas Arts has never been good with graphic detail. i love star wars games, i love the game play that it gives you. Also doesn't Darth Vader look a lot better in soul caliber IV?

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lilJohnnyboy

I read that in soul caliber IV you can play as the apprentice as one of the fighters but you have to unlock him. So you could get a better look at him there.

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delorean529

@H-A-V-O-K and Jacob The apprentice has to kill the stormtroopers because if any of them see him they will report it to the Emperor and Darth Vader will be executed because the apprentice was made to kill Jedi and eventually the Emperor because Darth Vader wanted to be the Emperor.

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jamesaphillips

sounds cool. i love the idea of combining force powers and a better combat system than the ep3 game. it was very good but it could ebe better

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gandhios

Yeah, I didn't to criticize the guy, just inspired a pent up rant. I'll go ahead and thumbs down my own post =(.

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RedWobblyJelly

You're taking what he said out of context Gandhios, reading the next sentence he goes on to say that games are "supported by a wide variety of ancillary products, including a novel, action figures, a miniatures line, a comic book, and more." This is a more modern phenomena. I doubt the author was implying games or movies are better than the other, or "about winning or losing but rather the immersion."

Avatar image for gandhios
gandhios

"video games are reaching the same league as movies " I wonder what that is supposed to mean Does this guy mean to imply that until recently video games weren't as good a movies? or does he mean that video games are becoming more movie like? Maybe video games should stand seperate, with a focus on interactive problem solving. Some games benefit from story-time, and I know some people want the game to be an interactive movie, not really about winning or losing but rather the immersion. But, being movie-like should not be the goal. I know my tastes are a little strange someitmes but I personally dont care much for story.

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Phazonix

SOOOOO GETTING THIS FOR THE PSP!!! LOOKS INSANE!!!!! just hope it has good lightsaber combat