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November 12, 2009

The Comics Console: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed — Ultimate Sith Edition

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is probably one of the greatest Star Wars video game ever made. But that doesn’t mean it’s a very good video game.

Taking place between Episodes III and IV, The Force Unleashed tells the story of Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, and shows the rise of Darth Vader and the Empire. After the Great Jedi Purge, Starkiller is ordered to find and kill all remaining Jedi as training for his ultimate assignment: kill the Emperor. In August 2008, Dark Horse published a graphic novel telling the story of Force Unleashed written by Hayden Blackman, whom also wrote the game’s narrative, and features art by Brian Ching, Bong Dazo, and Wayne Nichols.

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The story is the game’s best feature. It does a good job of filling the gap between the two trilogies and adds a lot more depth to Darth Vader’s character. Some of what happens even becomes cannon to the Star Wars legacy, like Starkiller’s family crest being used as the Rebel Alliance’s symbol.

The Force Unleashed is a beautiful game. Everything from the sunny and lush planet Kashyyyk, to the junk planet Raxus Prime, to the inner halls of the Death Star, the visual design is top-notch and has an authentic Star Wars feel to it. All the classic blaster and lightsaber sounds are here, and the voice acting isn’t half bad either, though I think they could have found a voice actor who sounds a bit more like James Earl Jones to play Darth Vader.

Unfortunately this is where all the good ends and the bad, very bad, and down right disrespectful begins. Pretty much anything gameplay related is disappointing. Your main character, Starkiller, starts off light with his lightsaber and only a few force abilities, like picking up objects or enemies and hurling them across the room. As you go through the game and level up, you can upgrade these abilities and add more to your arsenal. However, the experience is heavily dumbed down due to the games laundry list of bugs and glitches. Starkiller can be very stiff to handle, especially during the more platform based levels where quick and precise movement is vital. The camera isn’t really on your side either, which makes Force Throw difficult since you can’t really aim the object you want to lunge.

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Even simple acts like moving through an open door become undoable and will have you restarting levels and hoping the game doesn’t brain fart on you again. The same goes with the uninspired boss battles. At times your opponent will randomly fall through the floor, leaving only an upper torso to battle against, or they’ll get trapped high above you behind some invisible ceiling. The bosses in this game come off as just basic enemies with an oversized amount of health who are impervious to half of your attacks. Instead of forcing you to be creative with your abilities, it hinders you.

Probably the most disappointing part of the game (for me anyway) was the now famous scene where you pull an entire Star Destroyer out of the sky. What should have been the most badass moment in the game is reduced to slowly moving the Star Destroyer into a specific direction, fighting off some Tie-Fighters, then slowly moving the Star Destroyer again and continuing this on and on while being completely bored and frustrated.

In the last level of the game, one of the bonus objectives is marked as ‘DEFAULT TEXT’ and the counters for Force points don’t even work. It’s like LucasArts just stopped working on the game.

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Now I know I just spent the last few paragraphs bashing The Force Unleashed, but given all its flaws and issues, it’s still probably one of the best Star Wars games ever made. The Star Wars franchise doesn’t have the most stellar reputation with games, but this is about the closest fans have ever come to feeling like they are one with the Force. The thing about this game that just seems too inexcusable is the number of years it spent in development and it still has so many problems.

Fast foreword a year later and we get Star Wars: The Force Unleashed — Ultimate Sith Edition. What sets Sith Edition apart from the previous version of the game is the inclusion of all the available downloadable content: like skins and the Jedi Academy level, a new level where Starkiller is sent to Tatooine to hunt and kill Obi Wan Kenobi and face Boba Fett (who will become a DLC later), and a Sith Edition exclusive Hoth level that isn’t nearly as exciting as the other two. You’ll hack and slash through square rooms and hallways that look similar to what you’ve seen in other levels, and eventually come across Luke Skywalker, whom you have another basic boss fight with.

Since none of these levels are added into the game’s main story, none of your Force points or abilities carry over, though you do start out in these levels mostly powered up.

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Another just too inexcusable point is that the game’s coding for Sith Edition appears untouched, meaning all the annoying glitches are still there. The only thing that kept Force Unleashed from being a near perfect game was the large amount of minor issues, and LucasArts didn’t bother cleaning any of those issues up for Sith Edition. Which, if you ask me, is lazy and a slap in the face to the fans. Alas, LucasArts made big numbers with the game, and though nothing is confirmed, one has to believe a sequel may be on the way in the next few years.

This Force needs a bit more balancing. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed — Ultimate Sith Edition gets a 3/5.

Force Unleashed was also released on the Nintendo Wii last year, but there is no Wii version of Sith Edition scheduled. However, PC and Mac versions of the Sith Edition are available.

You would think a company like LucasArts that has all of George Lucas’ money behind it, and has been making video games for as long as they have, would have some of the highest quality video games on the shelf. So why don’t they? Earlier this year LucasArts put out Star Wars: The Clone Wars — Republic Heores that was barely playable. Have they just become lazy over the years, thinking that putting the Star Wars logo on something will sell it? That appears to be the most likely answer. And they aren’t wrong, but shouldn’t we as fans and consumers not only expect, but demand higher quality games and other products from gigantic empires like George Lucas’? Maybe the next time another super hyped big budget Star Wars game hits retailers, we should take a step back, and not rush to spend our money on something half-assed the day it comes out. Maybe then George Lucas will decide to take a closer look at what’s going on with his games.

The Force Unleashed could have easily been a perfect game if only they only gave it a little more time. What was your most disappointing video game experience?

Check out The Comics Console next week when we flip through Resident Evil comics and play Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles!

Andrew Hurst
andrewhurst@comicattack.net

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9 Comments


  1. Infinite Speech

    The book was much better than the game hands down! I guess the best Star Wars games are still the two Battlefronts and the trilogy released on the SNES



  2. Damn, those glitches sound really crappy.

    I’m not entirely sure what my most disappointing gaming experience was, but off the top of my head I think of X-Men the Next Dimension for the GameCube. It was fun, but I think I only found it fun due to my glaring X-bias.


  3. billy

    I was going to buy this game when it first came out because I thought my kids would like it. I think it was $50. I just saw it in the bargain bin at wally world for $20!


  4. Kristin

    I remember hearing some disappointing things. Mostly that for being “unleashed,” you weren’t really all that powerful. I played the demo, where the power level was decent, but realized it would take a while to get to that point in the real game (when that should be where you start!).

    Had thought about getting the original when the price went down, but then heard about the Sith Ed., with the extras added in, and decided to wait for a price drop on that instead. 🙂 It definitely doesn’t sound worth the $50.


  5. Infinite Speech

    definitely a $20 game


  6. phil

    “The Force Unleashed, but given all its flaws and issues, it’s still probably one of the best Star Wars games ever made. ”

    Clearly you havent played Knights of the Old Republic 1-2, Jedi Outcast, Dark Forces 1-2 and Academy. All great games. But agreed, didnt care to much for this game.


  7. Dakk Attakk

    YEAH ANDREW!! you poozer. you forgot about KoTOR! nooooob. LOL im jk brosef. Great article btw.
    Ive only played the Wii Edition. Which is really fun. and without as much glitching. But it gets really reptitive and the boss fights are RIDICULOUS. fighting a goddamn rancor should be amazing. But its just tedious and annoying. And the Wii version’s graphics are dumbed down. Witch isnt really that big of a deal. except its totally obvious. But on a big plus side, your wiimote practically IS your lightsaber. the motion controls are awesome. so is using your Force powers. .. im rambling.. heh

    MY most dissapointing gaming experience?! …. Cococo’s Magical Circus for the Wii… i REALLY expected more from that game. XD



  8. […] I was pretty disappointed with the first Force Unleashed game, but hopefully Lucas Arts can give us the game we should have gotten a long time ago. Watch […]



  9. […] you’ve ever played Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, then you know exactly what to expect. The game plays like a slightly dumbed down version of Force […]



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