Star Wars always needed a hack and slash game. Force Unleashed was the game we needed, but after a 5 years of Jedi Knight being in limbo, probably not the game we deserved. It was, however, thrilling that as Star Wars fans we finally got to cut people up with lightsabers again or throw fighters at them. Ignoring, of course, that it has no multiplayer. That’s probably a good thing, though, considering how wonky and broken saber duels were in JK2 and 3.
Sam Witwer, the dude who voiced Darth Maul in Clone Wars and also Rebels, and also Crashdown from Battlestar Galactica 2003 (and unfortunately the protagonist in the upcoming PS4 zombie game), plays Galen Marek i.e Starkiller, Vader’s secret apprentice. He finds Marek in the beginning of the game and raises him as his own, then uses him to apparently infiltrate/create the rebel alliance. TFU is kind of a Sith power fantasy where you go around beating the hell out of Jedi masters, falling in love with an imperial officer, and pulling Star Destroyers out of the atmosphere with your force powers. But it’s awesome.
The combat in this game is unfortunately not as complex, or at least the moveset not as large as you would hope for after gems like Ninja Gaiden or games like God of War. You get your standard Force powers – crush, push, pull, mind trick, lightning, and you get to develop those skills by putting points in to them by earning points and by finding Holocrons, which also lets you make some sort-of-combos. You also find saber crystals throughout the game which change your saber color and change what passive effect the saber has when used. Combat eventually gets boring as with all games that have combat, but on the bright side you get to toss stormtroopers around like toys, or kill those walking trash can droids.
However, after the initial fun of saber slaughter wears off, you are basically doing the same moves over and over again. Not because it’s like Ninja Gaiden where triple Flying Swallow is essentially the only way to win when surrounded by large groups of enemies who are all trying to hit you at once, but because there just isn’t a large list of attacks in the first place.
So the primary appeal remaining to this game, after you strip away the gameplay, is actually a well constructed story. TFU takes place in the criminally under-utilized and under-explained time period between Empire Day (when Palpatine founds the Empire) and the Battle of Yavin. Force Unleashed’s tale of Darth Vaders secret apprentice takes the player on a galaxy spanning journey to many settings only seen briefly in the prequel movies – explored more thoroughly in Clone Wars – such as Felucia, Kashykk, Raxis Prime, the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, the inside of a Star Destroyer, and even the Death Star itself, all of which were beautifully rendered and feel authentic.
The Graphics, considering they are from 2008, are as good as you can expect from a console game that’s 8 years old at this point. The PC port doesn’t appear to have been given any special attention, though – even maxing out the graphics still shows that they used the same low-res textures for most of the game.
Unfortunately, as a GFWL game, this is one of many titles that didn’t get the Steamworks treatment and never will thanks to Lucas Arts and EA. No achievements, no workshop support, none of that. It also has a fair share of technical problems and I can’t even get mine to work on Windows 10 properly, not to mention it would crash at random on Windows 7 when it had nothing to do with performance.