STAR WARS™ – The Force Unleashed™ Ultimate Sith Edition
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was a much hyped third person action game that was set to bridge the gap between the old and new Star Wars movie trilogies. Taking place after the events of “Revenge Of The Sith” but before “A New Hope” its the tale of “Starkiller,” a supremely powerful force user that has been taken as apprentice by Darth Vader and corrupted towards the dark side. Vader plans on using Starkiller to hunt down the remaining Jedi, but is keeping him a secret from the Emperor. The ultimate goal is to overthrow the Emperor and seize power, but in true Star Wars fashion things doesn’t always go according to plans.
The Force Unleashed was released on just about every console and gaming device known to man except surprisingly the PC. PC owners had to put up with vague excuses as to why this latest offering would not be possible on their gaming platform of choice and watch on with envy as their console brethren fully embraced the dark side. Despite going on to shatter all kinds of records, The Force Unleashed was not a perfect game and beneath the shiny veneer of glossy graphics a few cracks became apparent. Clunky controls with imprecise aiming and a lock-on mechanics took away some of the joy that came from flinging enemies around like rag dolls. While uninspiring level designs put a damper on the stunning locations you got to traverse. A wonky camera and boss battles that degenerated into quick time events further chipped away at the game’s potential. Still the game and related merchandise continued to sell like hot cakes and two bits of downloadable content were released for next-gen consoles with still no PC version in sight. When the “Ultimate Sith Edition” pack was announced which bundled the game with both bits of DLC as well as a new exclusive level set on the ice planet of Hoth, PC owners finally got invited party. Hopes were high that all the flaws would be polished out and that the PC version would be the definitive version to get but sadly the port was handled by Aspyr who in the age old tradition of console to computer ports seem to have done as little as possible in order to get the game working.
After a sizeable 30GB download (make sure you have time and bandwidth to spare if you are going for a digital copy of this game) I was greeted by a game that had me seriously wondering what all this space was needed for. The game has a very nice visual style and definitely benefit from the higher resolutions available on PC, but it was no longer as cutting edge as when it was first released. To make matters worse, there is no mouse support for the menus, which is a sure sign of a lazy port and the loading that accompanied each menu screen didn’t bode well either. The game itself opens with a level set on the Wookie home-world of Kashyyk and puts you in the boots of Darth Vader himself as he searches for a Jedi that was located on the planet. Force gripping Wookies and flinging them all over the place was a joy to behold and after watching wooden bridges and doors splinter into a million pieces it looked like there could be something to the games much touted “Digital Molecular Matter” technology after all. The “Euphoria” engine by NaturalMotion also made a good first impression with enemies flailing through the air as I force gripped them and flung them about. It was amusing to see them trying to keep their balance or cling to other characters and objects as you toy with them. The level design was pretty straightforward and soon culminated with a boss fight against the Jedi. Here the already somewhat erratic camera pulled in closer and after getting in a few shots (and getting knocked down a lot) the battle concluded with a series of quick time button events that would just loop until done correctly. The next level took place a few years later and sees you playing as Vaders secret apprentice “Starkiller” but the template set by the first level is rigorously enforced throughout the rest of the game.
Going to exotic locations like Raxus Prime, Cloud City and even the Deathstar sounds very cool on paper, but the levels themselves tend to be very short and straightforward with little room for exploration and not even much in the way of puzzles. Instead you get mobbed by hordes of enemies almost every step of the way and while individually they pose almost no threat they can become quite a nuisance due to their numbers. Getting knocked down by one enemy only to be pummeled by the next as your character slowly gets up is no fun and the problem is further exasperated by controls that never feel like they are fully cooperating. Picking up enemies or objects become a matter of luck when the screen is crowded and the horrible jumping mechanics meant I was never comfortable when venturing near ledges. The ability to upgrade your lightsaber and unlock new moves or combos are also pretty useless as its easier to just use your overwhelming force powers to obliterate everything in sight. I’ve never played a Star Wars game where the lightsaber felt this underpowered and while I understand that the emphasis is on the force it still doesn’t mean that such an iconic weapon should be so limp wristed. You earn experience points throughout the game for kills or by discovering special cubes and these can be channeled into new moves, upgraded force powers or into things like vitality, resilience or fortitude. Maxed out force lightening and grip should be more than adequate to see you through the game however. The game also seems to be working on some kind of weird internal logic that I can’t quite grasp. The main character is so powerful in the ways of the force that he can literally pull an Imperial Star Destroyer out of orbit yet some enemies like the Dark Troopers are immune to his force grip. The ability to manipulate some parts of the environment are also pretty much restricted to things that have a glowing blue aura around them.
The audio is really good and the soundtrack by Mark Griskey builds on the great work of John Williams. Sound effects are all vintage Star Wars and sound fantastic. The voice acting is generally very good, although a few of the more famous characters sound a bit “off.” Playing the game with a decent gamepad comes highly recommended as it will really help with the boss fights and other quick time heavy events. While the game has no multi-player there’s a shed load of other extras to unlock ranging artwork to bonus costumes and by the end of the game I had something like 44 different characters to play with including the likes of C3P0, Jango Fett, Luke Skywalker and more. They are just skins so make no difference to the gameplay and storyline, making them more of a novelty than anything else. A build-in database will give you a quick rundown on everything and everyone you encounter during the game, but you’ll have to endure a few loading screens to get to it.
The three extra missions included with this Ultimate Sith Edition are thankfully available from the start so you don’t need to “unlock” anything first. Play the main campaign first if you haven’t already otherwise they won’t make much sense. The mission set in the ruined Jedi temple seems to be the only one that relates to the “official” events in the game while the Tatooine and exclusive Hoth level are more “what if?” scenarios than anything else. One thing is fore sure none of these “extras” are worth the cost of the game if you own any other version of it already. The storyline is quite good, even if some things don’t really add up and the game had some really interesting ideas. It always sucks to see a game not live up to its true potential and in the amount of time it took to arrive on PC this game could really have benefited from some extra attention. As it stands, however, the Force Unleashed is a lazy port of a fairly average console game saved by the Star Wars license. The chance to find out what the “untold” story between Episodes III and IV is should be enough to lure Star Wars fans in and there are plenty of plot driven cut-scenes throughout the game to make it worth their while, but for the non Star Wars fans out there this kind of sloppy execution of good ideas just won’t cut it. Hopefully Lucasarts will improve all the weak spots for the sequel instead of just resting on their laurels again and letting the license do all the work.
*Review originally published in 2010 based on version 1.2 of the game.
- Minimum PC System Requirements
- Recommended PC System Requirements
- Minimum Mac OS X System Requirements
- OS: Win XP SP3, Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 5200+
- Memory: 2 GB
- Graphics: 3D Hardware Accelerator Card Required – 100% DirectX 9.0c compatible 256 MB Video Memory with Shader 2.0 support (Radeon HD 2900 or Geforce 8600)
- DirectX®: Directx 9.0c compatible
- Hard Drive: 30GB
- Sound: Directx 9.0c compatible
- Controller Support: XBox 360 Controller for Windows
- Supported ATI Chipsets: ATI Radeon HD 2600, 2900, 3650, 3690, 3850, 3870, 4550, 4650, 4770, 4850, 4870, 5890
- Supported NVIDIA Chipsets: NVIDIA GeForce 8600, 8800, 9400, 9500, 9600, 9800, 250, 260, 275, 280, 285, 295
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo 2.8 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 Dual-Core 6000+
- Graphics: 512 MB 3D Hardware Accelerator Card (GeForce 9800 GT)
- OS: 10.8.5 (Mountain Lion), 10.9.5 (Mavericks), 10.10.5 (Yosemite), 10.11.1 (El Capitan)
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo (Dual-Core)
- CPU Speed: 2.4 GHz
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Hard Disk Space: 25 GB + 1 GB Swap File
- Video Card: ATI HD 2600, Nvidia 8600, Intel HD 3000 with 256 MB of VRam
- Additional: Macintosh mouse and keyboard or Microsoft Xbox 360 Wired Controller
- Notice:Intel Integrated chipsets are unsupported (GMA 950/X3100). This game is not supported on volumes formatted as Mac OS Extended (Case Sensitive).