Reviews: Metacritic 72%| Game Rankings 72% | zero punctuation
Walkthrus: Mahalo | WikiCheats | GameFAQ
Developer: Lucas Arts Genre: Action-Adventure
Engine: Ronin, DMM, Havok and Euphoria
Pros: engaging story – music – excellent auto-save points – genuinely fun – first rate physics – achievable achievements – fair
Cons: some camera issues – use of quick-time controls – boss battles – no co-op or online modes – corridor corralling
Simply put, for action-adventure fans, Star Wars: Force Unleashed (SWFU) is a fun game, with a nice difficulty ramp, good auto-save points and challenging for players at all skill levels. The primary gaming mechanic are force powers similar to the telekinesis powers in Deus Ex: Invisible War While a tad glitchy, the game was generally solid. Unlike so many other games, (except for the star destroyer boss battle discussed below) I didn’t feel cheated by silly gimmicks to prolong game-play or artificially make the game more challenging. It was generally all-round good fun.
Star Wars Story Between Episodes III and IV
Star Wars fans will enjoy the story. It is a reasonably immersive, entertaining and well told story about Darth Vader’s apprentice, Starkiller and his love interest Juno Eclipse. The story takes place between Episodes III and IV of the Star Wars series. However, it wasn’t a ‘bridge’ between the two episodes as I had been lead to believe. It was more or less an irrelevant side-story (much in the way the Enter the Matrix game was an engaging side story to the Matrix Trilogy) involving some of the familiar Star Wars characters (Darth Vader, Princess Leia (using Carrie Fisher’s likeness but not her voice), Senator Organa (using Jimmy Smits likeness and his voice), Senator Organa (briefly using Ewan McGregor’s likeness) , R2D2, Emperor Palpatine, among others).
There were some really nice environments. The lush and colourful outdoor planet Felucia, pictured to the left, was very nice. A complex, multi-level indoor environment inside the death-star towards the end was also particularly good. The graphics were good throughout but certainly not pushing the next-gen envelope. The environments were, however, for the most part corridor-based. There was little free-roaming, sandboxy play. Most of the time there was only one way to advance.
First Rate Physics
Processing power usually reserved for graphics was likely put to use by the best-in-class physics engine. I can’t emphasize enough how terrific the physics engine was. Better than any I’ve seen. Every reaction, every moving object or player was tossed and bounced around realistically and uniquely. You never saw the same movement animation twice – brilliant!
Since the game was largely a corridor fighting game, I shut off the minimap. The minimap was overkill for newbs. There is a minimap-related glitch/bug in the game. Despite being shut off by me, a half dozen or so times, while in combat, the map spontaneously appeared. I had to go back to the options screen to turn it off each time.
Good Achievement Points
For the first year of the Xbox 360’s life, most games provided achievements that average gamers stood a good chance of getting. This has changed dramatically in the last two years where, in most games, if a player gets half (heck, more than 250) of the available achievement points they are doing exceptionally well. Happily, mere mortals can aspire to get the full 1,000 achievement points in SWFU if they choose to go for them – assuming they don’t experience the ‘*Default Text’ glitch discussed below. That is a very welcome change.
Music – Sound Track
As with the Halo series and any Indiana Jones game, the soundtrack is superb and truly enhances the ambiance. Though It can get a bit monotonous over long periods of time. I ultimately turned the music volume down after awhile.
At the beginning the camera was a tad annoying but I got used to it. It is less responsive then I’d like. There is no zoom. You cannot look straight up when you’d like (eg: while going up an open-air elevator or when wookies are jumping down on you from above).
Like too many games, the camera pulls back to the center as you move, whether you want it to or not. Fortunately there is a bit of a delay before it does. So its not as nausea-inducing as many other games. If you remain stationary while looking around, the camera remains fully in your control. Move and it pulls back to center.
Camera control is taken completely away from you during boss battles. It pulls away and remains stationary during the battle. This, frankly, sucks! During my first boss battle the camera got stuck behind a floating something-or-other. I literally couldn’t see the fight I was engaged in – daft!
Why can’t game developers let me use the camera how I want? I like to look around at the environments as I move around without fighting the damn camera. Let me!
Quick Time Events
Ugh! Why do otherwise very good games (God of War 1 and 2, Indigo Prophecy, Drake’s Fortune) rely on S_T_U_P_I_D quick time events (having to press arbitrary buttons displayed on the screen one after the other) to complete ‘finishing moves’ in boss fights. Fortunately in SWFU the button patterns are not randomized as they are in other games that rely on them. So they are generally easy to learn. I do not like quick-time events on principle. They are lame. But I must concede that in this game they were no impediment.
Manual Save Points Broken?
The game has a save option on the options menu, but best I can tell it does nothing. The game auto-saves whether you use the save option or not. If you select ‘save game’ between auto-saves, leave the game, come back and load the game, it loads from your last auto-save point – not your manual save point. I don’t see the point of this manual save game option that doesn’t appear to do anything. Happily, the auto-save points are very good and I never had to play over large swath’s of the game that I had previously completed. And, frankly, I didn’t die very often so this didn’t matter much. It’s just odd.
I generally despise escort missions. The Cloud City level was entirely an escort mission. But it wasn’t so bad because the escorted NPC didn’t act like an idiot and get himself killed as usually happens in escort missions. He generally stayed behind me and didn’t advance until the coast was clear. I’d rather have no escort levels in a game, but if they are going to be there, this is about as good an implementation of it as you can get.
Training Room Achievements: After basic training, save your training room time until after you’ve levelled up – well, unless you actually need/want the training. I spent time in the training room solely for the achievement points. Since you go into the training room with your then-current levelled-up state, it is much easier to complete the training (and get the achievements) once you are levelled up.
Learn/Use the Combos: I’ve read reviews of SWFU complaining that the combos are not needed. That may be so, but the game is much more fun if you spend some time to learn at least a dozen or so combos. I made a concerted effort to learn most of them. There are extra points and achievements for changing things up. Plus its a lot more fun. Using the same attack over and over leads to boredom.
Jumping Distances: When jumping, in addition to the double-jumping (A,A), followed by dash (LB) you can add a wee-bit more to long jumps by hitting (B) to get a small boost. This is absolutely needed to grab at least two holocrons in the game.
Easy Levelling Up: By accident I discovered that if you go back and play earlier completed levels, you go back with the Force Upgrades you achieved in later levels. Fighting earlier battles was therefore almost effortless yet you continue to level up through that process. After the 7th level, I went back to search for missed holocrons on earlier levels and finish some missed objectives. Unexpectedly, I continued to level up several times during my Holocron hunting. This approach effortlessly yielded significantly more Force Powers/Combos and Talents than I otherwise would have had to finish off the final few levels.
Force Grapple: When doing the (B+Y) grapple or the (A+X) combo, you only need tap them simultaneously quickly. You don’t have to hold them down as I was doing for a long time.
Lightsaber Flourish Challenge: There is a 20 point “Sith Trials” achievement for completing all the Training Room challenges. Assuming you’ve levelled up during the game, they are easy to complete after the game is over EXCEPT the “Lightsaber Flourish Challenge” which I was having no luck with (tried probably 20 times) until I read this Gamespot forum tip. Three things to know here: (i) ignore the damn tutorial that says strike when you see the flash; (ii) take a longish pause between each strike – count 1 Mississippi, 2, Mississippi etc. and only strike on the count; and (iii) once you land your first hit, stay still (let go of the left stick), you no longer have to move your character to finish the guy off. If you do, you needlessly push him into a wall and make it hard to complete the flourish. Using those tips it took me only two tries to do.
‘*Default Text’ Glitch:
Many gamers, including me, experience the “*Default Text” glitch. See a discussion of the glitch here and on the official Lucas forums here and here. When this glitch appears the words ‘*Default Text” appear on the Bonus Objectives table as shown below – circled in red (click on image for larger view).
From what I read and experienced the glitch causes only one major adverse affect. It prevents you from getting the 75 point Holocron collection achievement – which is a real bummer if you spent hours, as I did, hunting them all down. It also has the minor affect of not telling you what the the bonus objective for the affected levels are and it does not track your force points or holocrons collected in a given level. You can find the secondary achievements in the walk-thrus that I linked to above. Otherwise, all other achievements in the game and game play generally seem to be unaffected by this bug.
LucusArts is aware of the problem and have promised a patch but as of the time I wrote this post, no such patch has been released.
Star Destroyer Take Down: [WARNING: Spoilers]:
For me the most difficult and frustrating ‘boss battle’ of the game was taking down the Star Destroyer. It took me four attempts over four days before I figured out the key (see below). If you are like me, you are going to learn to hate the phrase “Rip that Destroyer from the Sky”. I must have heard it 100 times. However, if you follow the instructions below, you should be able to get through this part in 20 to 30 minutes tops.
The battle cycles you through several rounds of tie fighter attacks followed by star fighter force pulling. The objective, of course, is to pull the star fighter from the sky. Several walkthrus say this will take you 3 to 6 cycles. Bumpkus. It took me 6 initial deaths in the tie fighter portion alone before I mastered that part and maybe 70 cycles through the star fighter force pulling sections before I was able to pull this off. But, if I had understood the key to this battle and otherwise followed the instructions below it would have take me a lot less time.
Preparation: You are going to use a lot of lightning strikes to take down wave after wave of tie fighters as quickly as possible. You’ll get very good at this. The rapidity of the strikes requires fast force power rejuvenation. Therefore, before you start this battle, you would ideally have maximized your Force Lighting Force Power and the following Force Talents: Force Focus (to maximize force energy), Force Affinity (to maximize force energy recovery), and Battle Mediation (to reduce the amount of time it takes to charge force powers). It may be worth resetting your force talents if needed (X button) – ie: if you’ve spent more than 20 minutes without success. Health is less important because after a few initial deaths you’ll quickly learn how to avoid them (especially if you follow the Tie Fighter tips below).
Tie Fighter Tips: While frustrating at first, you’ll get very good at taking down the tie-fighters in short order. I got to the point where it was taking me no more than 15 to 30 seconds to take out each wave of fighters.
- Understanding Tie Fighter Flight Pattern: Each wave first flies in straight at you then swoops off to the left or the right. From then on, those swooping in from the left fly out on the right and vice versa.
- Pick a Side of Attack: You’ll be taking them down as they swoop away from you to the left or right. Pick a side (I chose the right side) and take them down from behind as they fly past. When there are one or two left you can use Force Dash (LB) to move quickly from the left to right if you wish.
- Use Pillars for Cover: There are two central pillars, one to the left of center and one to the right of center (as shown in picture below – click for larger view). Take cover behind them to avoid incoming tie-fighter fire. If you are on the right, stay behind the right pillar as you wait to strike them with lighting when they swoosh off to the the right. As you strike with lighting your character will move to the right. After taking down a tie-fighter or two, move back behind the pillar to recharge a bit, then strike some more. In this way you keep your health at as close to 100% as possible. Obviously if you are fighting from the left, reverse those directions.
- Wait for Blue Icon: Don’t waste your lightning strikes by firing randomly. Wait until you see the blue icon indicating a tie-fighter is selected and strikeable. Proper timing will result in you taking down fighter after fighter with ease.
- Two Lightning Bolts per Tie Fighter: Plan on two lighting strikes (pressing Y twice) as each tie fighter flies by. The system almost always deflects the first bolt at floating debris and other things and the second on the tie fighter with the blue icon you are aiming at.
Star Destroyer: Here’s the tough part (but not so tough when you understand the key). You’ll be using the left and right sticks to center the Star Destroyer’s nose before pulling it in. For the longest time I thought you had to follow the on-screen left/right stick animations perfectly. That was dead wrong!
- The Key: The key to this is getting the Star Destroyer’s nose perfectly centred before pulling it down. But to do this, pay attention to the nose and not so much the on-screen left/right stick animations. In fact, they’ll lead you somewhat astray. It is very helpful to pull the nose past the center, to the left of center on the x axis (with the left stick) , and somewhat past the up/down center – above on the y axis (with the right stick) because gravity will pull them back a bit. So, swing them a little past where the on-screen indicators indicate, so they’ll settle back to center before you start pulling. That’s the key. After a short while you’ll be able to do this without even looking at the on-screen left/right stick animations. Once I figured that out, I had the star destroyer pulled down from the sky in just two more attempts – after some 70 previous attempts when I failed over and over by following the on-screen left-right indicators exactly.
And, oh, did I mention I HATE boss fights like this!@!$@#$!
A good, well written and engaging story. A challenging and a fun game for players at all levels. If you like the Stare Wars universe and enjoy action adventure games, you’ll enjoy this one. I did.