Diehard fans of Star Wars tend to completely hate the prequels. So, it was a big risk to try bridging the two trilogies together in a video game. LucasArt’s Xbox360 and PS3 versions boast high-definition graphics and Ronin, a graphics engine that integrates the Havok physics engine, Euphoria animation engine, and the Digital Molecular Matter particle physics engine to create more realistic enemy and environment reactions to the player’s Force attacks. The previews for The Force Unleashed demonstrated advanced, self-preserving enemies, realistic destructible environments and simply gorgeous graphics. Sadly, the PC port largely lacks these innovations.
Starkiller is the secret apprentice of Darth Vader, groomed from birth to assassinate Emperor Palpatine. His training involves eliminating the galaxy’s few remaining Jedi Knights. Soon, Starkiller gets caught between the light and dark sides of the Force and must choose his destiny.
The protagonist possesses many upgradeable Force and lightsaber abilities, though the former’s long-distance advantages make the latter somewhat unnecessary. Aside from many weak enemies, several mini-bosses must be dealt significant damage before some mandatory quick-time events to finish them off. The tedious boss fights against Force users last for several stages, going into intensive quick-time events after the player lands enough hits. While the Ronin engine makes combat more interesting, the PC port fails to make this work on par with its counterparts.
The soundtrack mixes John Williams original tracks with those by LucasArts veteran Mark Griskey. Furthermore, many classic Star Wars sound effects like those of lightsabers, TIE Fighters, and blaster fire further enhance the experience. The game’s forgettable voice acting is not helped by a stale script and piss-poor character development.
As an attempt to bridge the two Star Wars trilogies, the story feels forced. Nothing has truly captured the scope, imagination, and originality of Episodes IV-VI since their debut and Force Unleashed is no exception. Overall, the game’s events fail to be taken seriously as canon, especially Vader’s secret apprentice.
This version of The Force Unleashed feels like a repetitive, unnecessary Star Wars cash-in. Aspyr produced an inferior port that fails to cater to PC users with poor graphics and mechanics that make the original’s flaws far more apparent. The Force ain’t with this one.