A decade ago, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was released and became an instant hit for myself. The game had reignited a love for the franchise that died shortly after the release of Revenge of the Sith. So when I saw the game on Xbox Game Pass a couple of months ago, I had to pull on those nostalgia strings.
You play as Galen Marek or Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret padawan, who he wants to use to overthrow Emperor Palpatine. Sound familiar. The game opens as everyone’s favourite sith lord hunts down Kento Marek, a survivor of the Jedi Purge. I was amazed at how well these graphics have actually aged. The movement felt fantastic as you menacingly walk through Kashyyk as Vader, chopping and force pushing Wookies out of your way. They also made me feel like I was playing a part in the 7th Star Wars movie.
Darth Vader and Galen Marek
From the Vader prologue, you can feel a compelling story starting and one that will fit neatly within the Star Wars canon. The development of Starkiller throughout the game is incredible, as he battles with his fight between the light and dark side of the force. You can almost feel his redemption as he starts to realise the Empire isn’t all that it’s meant to be. You strengthen your skills, giving the facade of being a true apprentice of the Dark Side. The force upgrades allow you to learn new combos attack to combine lightsaber fighting with your force powers. Whilst you’re also given the freedom to customize Starkiller, with new lightsaber crystals and costumes.
Starkiller rebuilds his lightsaber
The enemies are not practically difficult individually but gain their power in numbers, with frequent respawn rates. As your progress new enemies arrive, who are immune to certain powers such as your force lighting. This isn’t a difficult obstacle to get around, however, as you quickly learn to fling yourself in for a fist fight. When you reach halfway through the campaign, you quickly learn that the enemies become more frustrating, rather than a challenge, as they double the number of enemies in the mission.
The mission layout is typical of a noughties single-player campaign, as you battle your way through a map layout. The environment can be manipulated to your advantage, to crush any in your path. The scenery is beautiful and you see truly see both sides of the Star Wars universe as you fight through Felucia, Rexus Prime, Kashyyk and many other places synonyms with the franchise. This is helped by the music, which pace is set perfectly, so you feel the beauty or ugliness of your surro
Each mission ends with a boss battle, which quickly becomes a frustrating affair, as you hold the block button until they have to catch their breath, when you strike. Once the boss reaches a certain level of health, you’re offered a cinematic-button sequence finisher, which by the second level you’ll find yourself saying, “Ahh, again, really”. There are several boss-like creatures such as AT-ST and Rancors, who also offer these repetitive sequence finishers, throughout the levels.
Starkiller finishes of a Rancor
The Force Unleashed is a well-made game and has aged incredibly well. The story is strong, maybe stronger than some of the films and does everything to connect the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The gameplay can become frustrating and repetitive, but I wouldn’t let this distract you from the overall game if you enjoy Star Wars and a decent story. It would be nice if Respawn and EA take a note from this game, for Jedi: Fallen Order, which is being released next year and set in the same time in the new canon. But what would I know?