Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Cool Yule Rating: 5 stars

Price: $59.99 (PlayStation 3 version tested); also available for other consoles.

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Description: You don't have to be a Star Wars fan to enjoy this game, which is unbelievably fun to play – if you're a fan of gaming, I strongly encourage you to pick this game up.

I've seen all the Star Wars movies, and have never been a die-hard fan, especially of the newer movies. The story in The Force Unleashed is entertaining, if somewhat predictable from the beginning.

The game starts off on an awesome note, when you assume the role of Darth Vader. After this first level, you then take on the role of Vader's apprentice, who journeys through the Dark Side of the Force performing tasks for Vader, visiting several locales and fighting "enemies" throughout the Star Wars universe.

As a being with "super powers", you can basically do anything in this game – for example, when you're on a star fighter and you see a sheet of glass separating you from the vacuum of space, you can throw your opponent through it to see the devastating results. See those TIE fighters being assembled or flying around? You can use the Force to pick them up and throw them at hapless stormtroopers (or even throw a stormtrooper at an oncoming TIE fighter). The options and combinations are limitless, fun to explore, and always amusing.

The game's cinematography is incredible. Throughout the game, you gain and can enhance certain Force Powers, such as lightning, Force Push (the ability to throw objects or people), and Force Grip. The Grip power is especially fun, as there's no end to the hilarity of throwing your enemies into the walls, at each other, off cliffs, or straight up into the air. Watching them fall down, usually "screaming", as they plummet to their doom was fun to watch, and easy to control.

Boss battles are especially impressive. People watching me play made comments regarding how "movielike" the game was – indeed, it felt that way when I was playing. Fighting with a light saber is especially fun – and the better you get, the more fluid everything becomes. As you progress through the game, you can unlock new combinations for your light saber attacks, and it becomes very rewarding when you can successfully string together a set of combos against enemies much larger than yourself.

The game's combat system is a combination between the original "Devil May Cry" game and the recent "God of War" series. For example, wearing down large opponents and boss enemies leads to the option of coordinating the rest of your attack by matching key combinations that flash onto the screen. Thankfully, I found this game was more forgiving than God of War if I failed on some of the combos.

Some downsides on the game – it's not always clear what you need to do in certain levels, but in general you can find the direction you need to go because of an onscreen map. The points system, which you use to upgrade your character and his abilities, is somewhat flawed. Divided into three categories (new/upgraded Force powers, new combos, and other enhancements such as "increased health", I maxed out the new combos well before the other two categories. But because points are allocated to specific powers without you getting a say in these allocations, it was annoying to see a dozen or so unused points in my "combos" section, but having zero points in the other two to use for upgrades. Also, it would have been nice to have a little more feedback in the direction your character takes in the story (it's a typical George Lucas-style of storytelling).

If you're a fan of action games like Ratchet & Clank, God of War, Devil May Cry and "007: Everything or Nothing", then Star Wars: The Force Unleashed comes highly recommended.

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