Demo Impression: The Force Unleashed
So Thursday has come and gone and the next part of the Star Wars video game saga arrived on home consoles yesterday – even though its but a teaser Demo for the game due next month.
It may be clear from some of my earlier coverage that I’m a bit of a Star Wars fanboy. I admit that not everything Star Wars = Good but the premise of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, a story where the secret apprentice of Darth Vader is aiding him during the dark times to hunt down and destroy the remaining Jedi, actually made a lot of sense to me.
Did we actually expect that Vader had been doing nothing for 30 years but flying about the universe hunting down errant Jedi? Of course he had help! The Apprentice is the focus of the game and its rather short demo.
The demo is fairly short and linear. You’ll hop into character after a quick chat with your master and then it’s all slice and fling until you reach the end. There was a slight hint at puzzle based gameplay using the force with the hanger doors but not a lot more than run, slice up or throw enemy, pick up liberally scattered explosive barrels and destroy enemies. What will help this game stand out will be its story and from a lot of the previews is that I expect there to be a much deeper Star Wars tale in the making here that can’t easily be gleaned in a 20 minute demonstration.
The Force Unleashed is a third person title with the usual third person issues – like camera control. While the demo only provided a small sampling of the sorts of conflicts the Apprentice would face, and was crippled by granting you unlimited health (though I managed to die twice anyway) the way the game anchored the camera and that worked with the primary mechanic of force lift/throw was just a bit wonky.
This issue was not bad in the confined corridors that comprise much of the early parts of the levels but once you find yourself in a hanger bay or on the catwalks of the station things can get a little more frustrating. I found myself fighting the view a great deal at the demo’s climax when the AT-ST walker arrived and I’d already dispensed with the stormtroopers at its feet.
It may sound from the above that I’m not a fan of this game but frankly I’ve not played enough to decide I’ll dislike it. The action and force powers ebb cool, the visuals are impressive and this is most definitely the Star Wars feel I like. The third person perspective reminded me of hours spent in the Jedi Knight series once I’d earned my lightsaber and those memories make me likely to overlook the camera issue more than I normally would. Lets face it, just about every 3D third-person action title has camera issues – even groundbreaking winners like God of War had problems from time to time.
The Force Unleashed plays like a solid action game and from the demo my interest has not fallen much. Its frustrating though that we have another two weeks to wait for its arrival, and that the Wii version, which looks so much worse than the other versions might be the one to own because of the Darth Vader levels and the built in Star Wars fighting game mechanic. I don’t think I’ll end up buying that version but somewhere down deep I think I might regret it.
The Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Demo is available on Xbox Live! and the PSN network. The game itself is scheduled to materialize around September 16th, 2008. The Star Wars RPG fans out there can also expect the pen-and-paper campaign guide in stores at about the same time. (Look for coverage of that in a future The Analog Gamer column)
To peruse all of Gaming Today’s coverage of the game click here.