Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Features for Xbox 360

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II screenshot
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II screenshot

The problem is that LucasArts seems to have long since given up on coherently fitting its games into the world of the films. Whereas once upon a time we were given quality - and relatively sober - efforts like X-Wing and TIE Fighter, the PlayStation 1 era started a trend for weird spin-offs. We had a naff Soul Edge clone, Masters of Teras Kasi, and then later Star Wars: Demolition, a shonky riff on Twisted Metal. By this point The Phantom Menace had reared its ugly head, and with it came the inevitable tie-in games, featuring Jedi using rocket launchers, among other things.

I feel that this last image sums up the wider problem with Star Wars games: the universe is bent and repurposed to fit the needs of gaming, rather than the other way round. I know this is the same issue that invariably crops up when a developer takes on a big TV or film license, but it's particularly evident with Star Wars because it's the same tropes that are exploited time and again.

Take the Force, for example. As a boy I loved the idea that there was massive guiding presence out there, an invisible power that had great impact on everyone and everything, despite being completely intangible. It had mystery.

Lucas tried his best to destroy all this with the prequel trilogy, swapping the original films' subtle uses of the Force for more overt tricks and show-off moves. Various games have followed this shift, with developers using the Force as an excuse for any garish pyrotechnics they can dream up. When Vader choked Admiral Motti in A New Hope, or when the Palpatine started using Force Lightning at the end of Return of the Jedi, these felt like major events. Now we're used to being able to zap endless foes in every Star Wars game - even though it's really supposed to something that only the Sith use. We're so desensitised to its impact that LucasArts has to make it more powerful with each new game, culminating in the Force Unleashed, where Starkiller unleashes huge explosions of electricity that fry dozens of people at a time.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II screenshot

The Force Unleashed and its sequel are typical of the "more is more" approach that LucasArts has taken in recent years. Starkiller's name is a fan-wanking nod to the original Star Wars script, but that's the only light touch about the series. It's bad enough that the first game tries to sell us the idea that Darth Vader kept a secret apprentice that we never knew about, but having killed him off at the end of the first game he's then brought back as a clone for the follow-up. Even this wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the fact that it's a full-priced game that lasts about four hours, one in which something blows up every 10 seconds or so in a vain bid to hide that there's really very little going on. Starkiller exists only to give players an excuse to trash digital scenery while waving a pair of lightsabers about. I'm only surprised that the developers didn't scheme a way for him to use three or four at once, as per Darth Traya in Knights of the Old Republic II.

Later this year will see the release of Kinect: Star Wars, a LucasArts collaboration with Terminal Reality that may prove to be the ultimate example of pared-down Jedi fluff. I'm not normally one to outright condemn a game before its final release, but the version I played at E3 does not bode well. Aside from the teeth-grindingly forced inclusion of voice support (you can activate your weapon by saying "Lightsaber on!" Just like in the films!), there's so much lag between your movements and those on screen that at times there seems to be no connection at all. The code I played had probably been tuned down for demo purposes, but even so it's distressing that I could make solid progress by aimlessly wafting my arms, chopping down wave after wave of Battle Droids without even concentrating. Still, it's got lightsabers and John Williams' music in it, and that's all we really want, right?

Naturally there's that other Star Wars game to consider. EA and BioWare's The Old Republic is a far more complex-looking affair, with what is rumoured to be one the biggest production budgets in the history of gaming. It's the first MMO to feature full voice support, and it'll supposedly offer over 200 hours of play for each of its eight classes. Also, it'll feature lightsabers and John Williams' music.

It may be a fresh and exciting new take on the Star Wars universe, or it may be a derivative World of Warcraft clone with Jedi and Sith in place of Elves and Orcs; either way, I won't be signing up. Still, I don't think the final game will be lacking in players: it's already broken EA's record for pre-orders.

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12 Comments

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altaranga's Avatar

altaranga@ munkee

I have deleted his most recent posts.
Posted 20:00 on 30 July 2011
munkee's Avatar

munkee

I did read your blog post, Neon. I just had no worthwhile input. The youtube link was my feeble effort at getting involved in your Star Wars debate.
Posted 10:56 on 30 July 2011
munkee's Avatar

munkee

Everyone seems to have a favourite Star Wars themed youtube link, haha.. Here's mine:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CX3ay...feature=fvwrel

Also, time to remove alimaamoser, yes?
Posted 10:54 on 30 July 2011
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister@ altaranga

Fixed, ta.
Posted 00:01 on 30 July 2011
Chaza_snake's Avatar

Chaza_snake@ C_Juggler

thats brilliant :)
Posted 23:55 on 29 July 2011
altaranga's Avatar

altaranga@ FantasyMeister

Quote:
Originally Posted by FM
In 1997 I was 11 years old
In your dreams lazerbrain.

I have some very fond childhood memories of Star Wars. It also helped to shape my opinions of films, especially SF films, for years to come.

In order to preserve this memory I have had to ignore pretty much everything Lucas has released since. For the record I do not recognize episodes I, II & III.
Posted 22:29 on 29 July 2011
C_Juggler's Avatar

C_Juggler

Vader if he'd been raised in London instead of Tatooine

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDKiQ...gdat a_player
Posted 18:47 on 29 July 2011
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

In 1977 I was 11 years old and the line around the cinema in Southport went around it 3 times. All health and safety and fire code issues were ignored and they packed as many of us as possible into each showing.

I considered myself lucky to sit on the stairs in the middle aisle of that packed out cinema, and no cinematic experience has matched, or ever could match, that showing of Star Wars: Episode IV.

'Cept maybe that time in the same cinema when they showed Jaws, where you could feel the whole freaking building jump when the head rolled out of the hole in the hull.

I think my point simply is, with memories like that, Star Wars can never die. Sure it can get diluted and milked and go off on various unwanted tangents and appear in different forms of media, but if you were in the right time and place you'll have some immortal memories of it, and those can't be touched.

I think I spent more 50 pence pieces trying to destroy that wire-frame Death Star than it would cost to buy the entire arcade a few times over.
Posted 18:40 on 29 July 2011
Wido's Avatar

Wido

Bioware and Pandemic Studios have been the only developers to actually nail Star Wars games for me. Bioware with KOTOR & Sith Lords, which I would love to see TOR on the console instead of the PC! Pandemic with Star Wars Battlefront as they were fantastic games to play. I really hope Battlefront III is in the pipeline somwhere!
Posted 18:02 on 29 July 2011
Karlius's Avatar

Karlius

That reminds me of Taff Wars:

YouTube Video
Posted 17:06 on 29 July 2011
draytone's Avatar

draytone

YouTube Video
Posted 16:58 on 29 July 2011
mydeaddog's Avatar

mydeaddog

This is genuinely my favourite Star Wars thing since... well, since I can remember.

YouTube Video

(If you're viewing this as a comment, rather than on the forums, you'll need to click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xI39jU24InY)
Posted 16:41 on 29 July 2011

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Release Date: 19/09/2008
Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts
Genre: Action
No. Players: One
Rating: BBFC 12
Site Rank: 1,649 91
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