Hey there J1 Fans, Devildriver1313 here with another installment of “Time Warp Review”. This edition is special because I’m presenting it on the most symbolic day among the geek community. That’s right! In celebration of May 4, I’m looking back at a Star Wars game and the game I have chosen is Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.
Set between Episode III: Revnege of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope, Star Wars: The Force Unleased featured a Jedi known as Starkiller, who was taken in by Darth Vader after the Sith Lord made his entrance on the Wookie homeworld, Kashyyyk in search of a Jedi who survived Emperor Palpatine’s Jedi purge. As a child, Starkiller was strong with the force, managing to take Vader’s lightsaber straight from his hand. Vader raised Starkiller as his apprentice with the intent of overthrowing the Emperor. However, it isn’t long before Palpatine discovers Vader’s plot and forces him to kill his apprentice. Vader had planned ahead and sent droids to recover and revive Starkiller. Starkiller is given the new task of jump starting the Rebel Alliance to combat the Empire. Along the way, he meets Princess Leia Organa and her father, Senator Bail Organa, and Jedi Master Rahm Kota (whom he previously fought and supposedly killed over Nar Shaddaa). In the process, Starkiller learns from Kota about the Jedi way, which ultimately leads him into sparing Jedi apprentice Maris Brood, who had succumbed to corruption by the dark side after Starkiller murdered her master Shaak Ti on Felucia. Darth Vader finds and captures everyone before revealing to Starkiller that he was just merely a tool for exposing the Emperor’s enemies. Spurred on by the betrayal, Starkiller fights his way through the Death Star, rescues the Rebels and confronts Emperor Palpatine.
In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, players take control Vader’s apprentice, Starkiller and guide him through his rise from Empire lackey to Rebel Alliance proprietor. Like a true Jedi, player have access to the Light Saber and use of the Force, both of which are upgradeable by finding certain items through the course of the game. These abilities allowed for the light saber to be used in junction with force powers such as launching the saber to target and eliminate distant enemies. Starkiller can use the Force to lift enemies and hurl them into other targets or blast back entire groups with Force Push. His powers eventually become so great that he can even pull a massive Star Destroyer from the sky. For the Light Saber, he gains new attack combos for hacking and slashing Stormtroopers down to their skivvies. The gameplay is intended to be easy to learn; the development team included “horrible” gamers to help ensure the game’s accessibility. Players can casually run and gun through the game, but the game rewards those who take a stealthy, more tactical approach. Difficulty increases through gameplay as your enemies begin to learn your tactics. Use the same move repeatedly and the enemy will adapt and counter. This type of AI is thanks to NaturalMotion’s Euphoria which is responsible for the enemies’ realistic intelligence.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was created to bridge the gap between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope, thus connecting the two trilogies. Lucas Arts proposed the idea of exploring Darth Vader’s secret apprentice to which George Lucas approved. Lucas spent hours discussing with the developers the relationship between Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine and provided feedback on what Vader would want out of and how he would motivate an apprentice. Lucas Arts collaborated with Industrial Light and Magic to create a game that is intended to make players think they are “actually, finally, in a Star Wars movie”. The result is an excellently told side story that expands upon the Star Wars universe. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed sold 1.738 million unit across all platforms, making it the third best-selling game globally in the third quarter of 2008. As of July 2009, it had sold six million copies. It had become both the fastest selling Star Wars title and fastest selling Lucas Arts Game. The Force Unleashed won a Writers Guild of America award for Best Video Game Writing. The game received mixed to positive reviews. Electronic Gaming Monthly called the game “dissatisfying” while Gamespot said the storyline was “more intimate and more powerful” than the Star Wars franchise’s prequel trilogy. Both Darth Vader and Starkiller would appear in Namco’s Soul Caliber IV title as playable characters along with Jedi master Yoda.
Thank you for joining me on this wonderful day in geek culture. May the Fourth be with you…always.