This weekend, I got the new Star Wars: The Force Unleashed game for the Wii for my birthday. Gotta say, this is a pretty cool game that for me lives up to the summer’s worth of hype that led up to it.
The basic story premise is this: Between the third and forth Star Wars movies — Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope — Darth Vader finds a child who is strong in the Force, makes him a secret apprentice, and trains him as an adult to be a powerful spy/assassin. This character, Starkiller, is able to wield the Force with an intensity that we’ve never seen before in the movies, and you basically spend the game kicking the crap out of everything that moves. Very simple. Very satisfying. Like how it felt to play the first 3D “Doom” game … but moreso.
I can’t speak for how this games plays on the 360 or PS3 or any of the other consoles, but on the Wii, this is a really fun game to play, because of the controllers. You use both the remote and the nunchuk to execute a wide variety of attack and movement actions that are mostly intuitive. Need to swing your light saber? Then just swing the remote. Want to use the Force to push everything and everybody in front of you out of the way? Then just thrust forward with both the remote and the nunchuk in a shoving motion. Hold down a button on both the remote and the nunchuk, thrust your hands toward the floor, and you’ll create a shockwave that pushes away everybody in your immediate vicinity. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Suffice it to say that after a weekend of playing this, my shoulders were actually a bit sore from exhaustion — in a good way. It’s nice to see that Wii Sports isn’t the only game for this console that’s capable of giving me some much-needed exercise.
As for the “plot” of the game, I’m guessing there are some people out there who will get bored. Because so far, it seems to be a very linear, first-person, one level after another, beat the Big Boss dynamic. The most decision making you do is deciding what exactly to spend your Force points on — boosts for your current Force powers or new powers that you don’t have yet … and modifications to your light saber. Beyond this, there is no “tree” of plot choices, and the environment doesn’t really let you wander off the basic path. And as I say, for some, that will make the game boring. But at this point, I kind of like the simplicity of it. Just drop me into a level, and tell me whose/what’s ass to kick next — Rebel soldiers, Empire soldiers, and droids alike. Maybe in the next version of the game, they’ll combine this cool first-person combat system with the open-ended architecture of something like “Knights of the Old Republic” on the Xbox. But for now, I think this game lives up to its own premise just fine.
On a side note, as I was playing, I kept looking at the main character (Starkiller) and thinking that he reminded me of an actor who I couldn’t quite place. (By the way, it’s a huge testament to the game’s graphics that I could even think this.) Anyway, I put it out of my mind, and at one point yesterday, an hour after playing Force Unleashed, I decided to watch last Thursday’s episode of Smallville, in which we’re introduced to a character named Davis (who we’ve already been told by the writers will go on to become Doomsday). The character is played by actor Sam Witwer, who also played “Crashdown” a few seasons ago on Battlestar Galactica, as well as a recurring character in the first season of Dexter. Anyway, long story less long, the actor who voices “Starkiller” and gives him his likeness is Sam Witwer. And while I’d love to say I figured this out as soon as I saw him on Smallville, I didn’t actually make the connection until some friends of mine told me this morning. Because I’m 41 and my brain is apparently drying up a little more each day.
On another side note, my father-in-law happens to be a big fan of the “Star Wars” series of books. He recently read the fiction adaptation of the video game, and said it was a pretty good book. It apparently feeds nicely into A New Hope, and retcons some of the details you see in that movie, including the title itself.
Now if you’ll please excuse me, I have to go throw some Stormtroopers around …
I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be completely happy with a Star Wars game. Unless it’s of the Lego variety that is. I watched my bf play a lot of this this past weekend and it was definitely cool looking but it didn’t really do anything for me. Especially since the ending is very easy to guess. There is a really good “holy crap” moment though that will blow your mind.
Way back when after the first trailer for the game my bf and I both said the main character looked like Sam Witwer. We mainly knew him from The Mist at that time and have since come to know him from BG and I just watched his Smallville episode too. He certainly seems to be getting a lot of work lately!
Happy Belated Birthday btw!
great review – we’re going to post it on samwitwerfans.com if you don’t mind (with credit to you of course)
I don’t mind at all. In fact, I went ahead and linked Sam’s name over to your site, in case anybody wants to know more about him.
Nerdy Bird, did you ever get to play “Knights of the Old Republic” on the Xbox? I never finished working all the way through the story — although I may still one of these days — but I really enjoyed the game play and the storytelling.
ohai! Games, you say? That’s an easy way to get my attention 😀
We’ve been playing the demo of FU on the 360, because we are cheap, but it’s definitely fun on the platform, even without magical sticks to wave around 😉
KotOR is still my absolute favourite SW game (Lego original trilogy comes a close second). #2 was a bit of a let down, and justifiably felt rushed, but the original still stands up against all the new next gen games, as a classic.
It was nice to be absorbed in the world, without having to do the cliched play-by-play of the movies plot, which is why I think I’ll have fun when we finally pick up Unleashed. Structured game play aside, it’s a new take, so an automatic plus for me.
(I also spent a month playing Galaxies. The less said about that, the better).
Not that I’m a Star Wars fan, or anything, heh. Though, I am married to the man who still has all his old PC games like X-wing and TIE Fighter, even though he can’t run them on anything, lol
“Galaxies” wasn’t so good, eh? I hadn’t heard anything about it, so I wondered.
To be honest, I’m not really a Star Wars fan either. I mean, I like the franchise well enough, but I’m not emotionally attached to it the way I am to Whedon stuff or even the Trek Universe. “Knights of the Old Republic” was actually the first thing that made me interested in the Star Wars Universe since the original three movies. And then the Legos games pushed that along. And “Force Unleashed” kind of fills out the trifecta. All in all, the video games have done more to keep me interested in the franchise than Episodes 1-3 did.