Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Ian rips into LucasArts' much-hyped debut of Starkiller.
360, (All formats)
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If this game had just been the first level, constantly, for eight hours, it would rank amongst the finest ever made. Waltzing around as Darth Vader, knocking wookies off bridges using your mind. It just doesn't get much better than that.
It comes as something of a disappointment, therefore, that this fabulous introductory level is only a matter of minutes long and you're soon enough forced to take part in the slog of simply crushing stormtroopers, throwing militia people around and hitting rancors with rocks. While fun, it just doesn't compare to the incredible joy that accompanies sending a giant walking carpet flailing to the bottom of a chasm with your invisible wizardry. Or 'The Force', as it's sometimes known.
Nay, once the Vader bit is done you're to take over the shockingly generic-looking Apprentice: the evil underdog to Vader's plans and one of the most powerful Sith in existence, or something. Except, that's a crock of proverbial, as he's neither evil nor is he all that powerful, to begin with at least.
No, what you're rewarded with is some false advertising, as instead of being an all-out nasty little shit you instead have to take control of some quite naughty little chap who does nothing but look shifty and like he's about to turn good at any point.
But hey, we're being picky here - there's so much that's actually, properly, genuinely wrong here. Like how the game seems to be a little undercooked - glitches galore, shoddy clipping errors, sometimes even textures for entire levels not loading (as tested on three separate 360s) and the list goes on, this is a definite case of a game that needed a little bit more time in the oven. Not a literal oven, of course. Don't be silly.
But it's not just cosmetics that come up short - there are shonky elements all over the place that hamper actual gameplay, and unless you're Mercenaries 2, you simply cannot get away with it. Random slippy-slidey floors in the middle of a platforming section? DON'T DO THAT. Glitching through barriers set up to stop you from plummeting to your death? DON'T DO THAT. Prompting you which direction to move the analogue sticks in order to bring down a Star Destroyer - which should be the finest moment of the game - but actually giving incorrect prompts? DO NOT FUCKING DO THAT.
In fact, just play the sarlacc pit level and realise how truly broken this game is.
Force Unleashed also presents us with the more cardinal of all sins: a cheating computer. Blocking attacks every time they land, countering with ridiculous consistency, hitting you (an all-powerful Sith, apparently) with unblockable attacks and generally being tossers of the highest order - oh, and they hit you when you're in an irreversible falling animation, which is usually exacerbated by the fact that you tend to slide for three miles across the floor, leaving the Apprentice very open to losing three quarters of his energy bar.
It's a pile of annoying, shit-caked arse. And I haven't even mentioned the boss battles yet.
Yes, the bosses manage to ramp things up a notch by being arbitrary twots the world has never seen the like of, deciding one second that your force push attack has no effect, before deciding that theirs is not only unblockable, but it now does more damage than it did last time. How's that for neutering powers? And what did the production meeting for how to finish the battles go like? We'll give you a clue: