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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed review

£39 inc VAT

Manufacturer: LucasArts Entertainment

Our Rating: We rate this 3.5 out of 5

The basic premise of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a stroke of brilliance: in the years between Episodes III and IV, Darth Vader takes a secret apprentice and puts him to work mopping up the few remaining Jedi.

The basic premise of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a stroke of brilliance: in the years between Episodes III and IV, Darth Vader takes a secret apprentice and puts him to work mopping up the few remaining Jedi.

Finally we can dispense with all the self-righteous moralizing and embrace the awesome power of the dark side, right? Sort of.

The first of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed level sets Vader himself loose on the lush Wookiee home world of Kashyyyk, and serves as an abrupt and fleeting exposure to the full suite of Dark Side powers.

When you're done slicing through flea-bags, stripping bark from their precious trees, and vanquishing the ineffectual Jedi they're so desperate to protect, you come across a child prodigy who is so powerful that he manages to yank away the Dark Lord of the Sith's lightsaber. Decades of training and abuse later, the now grown Starkiller (yeah, that's not obvious) heads out into the cosmos at his master's behest, delivering swift and silent death wherever he goes.

Now, you would think that someone who grew up being force-fed a diet of the Dark Side would be a seething wreck, muttering insanities and pulling out his hair by the fistful, but Starkiller seems like a surprisingly well-adjusted person, especially considering all the suspicious cuts and bruises that line his face and body.

This might sound like a minor inconsistency, but it's actually a significant narrative problem. How are you to "embrace the dark side" or care about Starkiller's journey of redemption when he starts out feeling so bland? The rest of the story is also problematic - it's painted with such broad strokes that you're unlikely to care what happens to any of the characters when the credits roll.

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  • Overall: We give this item 7 of 10 overall

Make no mistake: you can have a lot of fun with The Force Unleashed. One of the greatest joys during my time with the game was revisiting the more entertaining early levels with all my new tricks intact. But as I alternated at will between electrocuting goons, uncorking floods of psychokinetic rage, and blasting everything to hell and gone, I couldn't help but wish that the rest of the game underscored that early sense of freedom, instead of slowly collapsing your options and sabotaging the otherwise expansive combat possibilities.

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