I picked up Star Wars: The Force Unleashed for the PS3 when it was released. I finished it over the weekend. There were some really great moments. There were also many moments of me screaming at the tv in frustration, declaring "this game sucks!!" I am going to point out what bothered me, just know that overall I enjoyed the game. Although you might not be able to tell by this post. :)
- The load times can be annoying. Especially since the game needs to install first. There are even load times when you are accessing menu options. You have to access the menus often too, since you upgrade your force powers and lightsaber as you level up and find new lightsaber crystals, so it is really annoying having to stare at a load screen every time.
- Graphically the game looks very good. Most of the time that is. It can look downright amazing in some sections, but you always get the feeling that the game engine is too taxing on your system and there are plenty of graphical glitches and hic-ups keeping the game from really shining in the visual department. In this one particularly busy battle I experienced the worst case of slowdown I have seen this generation. It was a total slide show. I thought the game was going to freeze on me. Overall the game can use a lot more polish. There are a lot of bugs and glitches, such as occasions of you getting stuck in the environment, etc.
- The Havok physics and Euphoria engines are used to good effect. There are a ton of objects to interact with and toss around using Force Grip. The problem I have though is that nothing in the game seems to have much weight. The game tries to make things appear heavy, etc., but I always have the feeling that everything has a very hollow feel to it. This is something I have felt in practically every game that uses physics, it is not isolated to this game. I don't think any game has really nailed the feeling of an object having mass and being dense and heavy. Maybe it is just me, but when I pick up a Tie Fighter and toss it at a group of Storm Troopers, while fun, it still does not feel or look as right as it should.
- The controls are mapped well on the controller and if you are not trying to do too much too fast, they work fine. But in the heat of battle, facing multiple enemies and trying to pull off elaborate combos and moves, they can be extremely frustrating. They are not as responsive as you would like, yet every button press registers, so I might press Triangle to shoot out a bolt of lightning, nothing happens since I am caught up in another animation, so I press it a few more times, next thing you know, I'm shooting out like 4 lightning blasts in a row, depleting my force meter. But I can live with that. What I can't live with is when I press triangle, shoot my lighting, then I immediately begin to press square rapidly to follow-up that strike with lightsaber attacks, except that for some reason, the game interprets the square button as me mashing on the triangle button instead, so I again shoot out about 6 lighting blasts in a roll, even though I was not pressing that button. That has happened to me countless times and it is very frustrating.
The auto-target for your force grip power is also shaky, especially in the heat of battle, so trying to grab the object you want (and might need in a pinch) does not always work as you'd like. Then, if you manage to grab the right object, the auto-targeting for throwing said object is just as flaky (again, especially in the heat of battle, when you rely on precision the most), so it can be pretty frustrating.
Blocking seems to take too long to occur, and if you are caught in an enemy's "combo attack", you'll need to sit there and take all the punishment until the end (God of War and Ninja Gaiden have spoiled me on quick blocking). You character also takes forever to stand back up after getting knocked down, and you are completely vulnerable to enemy attacks during this time, so once you go down in a group of enemies expect to take many cheap hits before you can get back up.
- I can understand that the developer does not want to make the game too easy, but I also want it to be authentic to the source material. They knew that they were making the game about an ultra powerful sith/jedi, a character who can kick all kinds of ass, so they should have thought of better ways to make the game difficult, without making it cheap, or handicapping the player.
I basically wanted to really see what it would be like to control a rogue warrior who is using the darkside of the force and mowing enemies down with a lightsaber. That game accomplished that 70% of the time. But it limits you and weakens your ability in some aspects in order to keep the game from being a cakewalk. I'm putting on my Star Wars geek hat on now to highlight a few examples:
Your lightsaber is little more than a sword that glows in the dark in this game. This is a weapon that can cut through metal like a hot knife through butter. So why does it take so many hits to take down some of the more "advanced" Storm Troopers? You should be mowing down any Storm Trooper in one or two hits.
Then there are the Storm Troopers that have some type of anti-force power shield. So these guys can only be taken down with physical attacks. They are immune to lightning, force grip, force push, which is just bogus to me. I don't recall there being some type of "anti-force" technology in the Star Wars universe.
All boss battles and a lot of the larger enemies (AT-ST's and Rancors) end in a quick-time event button sequence. A lot of these can be a bit jarring, since you could standing off to the side of a Rancor when you get the prompt, press the correct button, and all of a sudden you are standing right in front of him for the "cinematic" finish. It really takes you out of the game and looks terrible.
These sequences also have you pulling off some very impressive moves and show you using the force in spectacular ways. Things you cannot do during regular gameplay, but that you would really like to. Why is it that in the cinematic, you can lift up a Rancor and slam him to the ground using force grip, or lift up an AT-ST and crush it like a tin can, but they are immune to your powers during regular gameplay? Like I said I can understand that the developers want to keep some sort of challenge, but it feels more like cheap handicapping instead. Sure, lifting such a large creature should be harder than lifting a Storm Trooper, so let it be that you have to stand still and concentrate to do it. Incorporate a charge time or something, but don't make it impossible for the player (when clearly your character is strong enough in the force to do these things) and leave those truly awesome force moments just to a simple Simon says cinematic.
Bottom-line, nothing in the game should be immune to your powers, it should just be harder to affect some of the tougher enemies, leaving you vulnerable while you try. Being able to lift up and toss a Rancor in real-time would have been surreal. :)
- The best part of the game, as a few reviews have mentioned, is the story. At first it is adequate, but it really picks up in the second half and by the end, all Star Wars fans should have their jaws open. There is a lot that happens in this game that plays a pretty significant role in the Star Wars universe, especially for the original trilogy. There is a lot of fan service for hardcore fans as well. Very good job in this department. This was a better Star Wars story than anything out of the prequel films.
- Overall the game overcomes its faults with its positives, but this could have been a game to give KotoR a run for best Star Wars game ever. However, KotoR leaves the final product in its dust. Still, when this game is at its best, it is a Star Wars' fan wet dream.