Join the dark side and grab a lightsaber

Danny Andrews

Danny Andrews

Grade: B

Your name is Starkiller. As Darth Vader’s secret assassin, your mission is to destroy anything that stands in the way of his Empire. Set between Star Wars: Episodes III and IV, the game fleshes out the story of how exactly the Rebellion began and the role Vader played in shaping the universe. Your path of discovery takes you to five brand-new locations in the Star Wars universe full of brand-new species to terrify and crush beneath your boots.

And crush you will, eliminating hapless victims with primeval force powers. Lightsaber in hand, you can lift, throw, crush, electrocute and otherwise dominate stormtroopers, Wookiees and Jawas alike. Your ability to channel the Force into hurricane-level winds and Delorean-powering lightning bolts is easy and fun; each move is regulated to a single button on the Xbox 360 and one (sometimes) simple waggle on the Nintendo Wiimote. As you progress in the game, any move can be charged up for additional damage and awe-inducing graphical effects.

Interestingly enough, the 360’s processors are put to the test and several times the game slowed considerably when there where multiple enemies on-screen. While the Nintendo Wii didn’t have this problem (not hard considering LucasArts ported the Playstation 2 version over), swinging the Wiimote to simulate a lightsaber seems like fun until you actually do it. With no 1-to-1 ratio of motion detection, the “intense lightsaber combat” described by the various ads devolves into wrist-numbing waggling sessions. Every boss battle on the Wii can be fought in the same way; hang back and electrocute the living hell out of ’em.

Story-wise, the two games are as similar as reading Moby Dick and reading Moby Dick: The Pop-Up Edition. Whole sections of the story are left out in the Wii version, like how the droid companion PROXY (think C3P-0, but less effeminate) is designed to spend every spare moment thinking of ways to kill you. For the seemingly delicate Nintendo players, PROXY is just a walking, talking transmitter that Vader uses to talk with his apprentice. Also, where the 360 users get to literally pull a Imperial Star Destroyer out of the sky with the Force, Wii players get to watch a video of the ship falling to the planet surface while Starkiller looks constipated and grunts.

Really though, these faults are few and far between. The game plays well, and you feel every weight stone, crate and body you toss around the levels. While the story is a bit hard to swallow at times, most Star Wars fans by now are used to taking what they can get. The game truly shines once you hit your rhythm and get used to flinging enemies, electrocuting droids and slicing Jedi.

So give into your dark side and give Star Wars: The Force Unleashed a try. You will definitely not have a bad feeling about this.