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PSP  header logo

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

For: PSP   Also on: DS, Mobile, N-Gage

A new hope

Product: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed | Developer: Krome Studios | Publisher: LucasArts | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, Film/ TV tie- in | Players: 1-4 | Version: US
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed PSP, thumbnail 1
Yoda was right on the money when he stated, "Foreplay, cuddling – a Jedi craves not these things." Action is all that any Jedi wants and there's more than enough to of it in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on PSP. An entertaining story and non-stop combat ought to satisfy your Force lust, even if there's a few sticky points. Technical issues keep it from being a dream, yet not enough to wreck the overall experience.

The Force Unleashed puts you on the Dark side as Darth Vader's secret apprentice. After discovering you on the Wookie home world of Kashyyyk, Vader trained you in the dark arts of the Force in order to craft you into a Jedi assassin. Now fully grown, you travel in search of the last remaining Jedi to wipe them out and cement the Empire's grip over the galaxy. From the junk world of Raxis Prime to the overgrown fungi of Felucia, your mission introduces some of the most intriguing locales in the Star Wars universe.

You also wield some of the most powerful abilities ever conceived in a Star Wars game. Living up to its name, The Force Unleashed offers an impressive array of abilities, ranging from simple lightsaber swipes to devastating lightning walls to earth-shaking Force slams. Figuring out the button combinations needed to unleashed some of the advanced Force powers is definitely tricky. The most basic moves – lightsaber throw, Force choke, Force repulse – are easy enough, requiring only a simple button press or two. Most enemies can be taken out with a quick zap of lightning or a few carefully timed slashes with your lightsaber, so you don't even really have to bother with the more complicated manoeuvres.

Realistically, there's little time to toy around with attacks since you're constantly bombarded by enemies. The game manages a consistent, energetic tempo. Breaks in the action are few and far between, yet you're never overwhelmed. Boss battles pepper each level at just the right intervals, difficult enough to be challenging without becoming frustrating. Button-pressing finishing moves à la God of War cap each confrontation, which helps to keep things interesting.

Camera angles are less accomplished, however, and hinder your ability to engage enemies in combat effectively. The approach feels downright schizophrenic at times, skittering about with odd angles that obscure your view or hang up on a wall. There's no way of controlling the camera since the PSP lacks a second analogue stick and the shoulder buttons are used to augment Force powers; as a result, you end up tolerating it in a desire to follow the story to its conclusion despite the fact the erratic camera hampers the overall experience.

Other technical issues sully The Force Unleashed. Frequent, random pauses jolt you out of the game. The screen freezes momentarily as the handheld spins the UMD and then pops back into motion. Like Jar Jar Binks, unacceptable is the only way to describe it. Lengthy loading times must also be endured, although it's somewhat of a given considering the platform.

It's rather easy to tolerate these technical flaws, though, because the action is so satisfying and there's just so much of it to be had. Six alternate modes of play complement the main campaign, half of which extend the single-player game. A handful of Historic Missions chronicling key conflicts in the Star Wars canon are a highlight, as well as survival mode Order 66 and one-on-one Force Duels. These are impressive additions and boost the value of the game once you've cleared the Story mode.

For multiplayer, up to four can link up in ad-hoc mode to play three game types: Force Frenzy, Rule the Galaxy, and Force Out. Identical to deathmatch, Force Frenzy is a combat free-for-all. Rule the Galaxy puts a Star Wars spin on king of the hill, whereas Force Out has you attempting to blast your opponents out of a designated area. Decent inclusions, but support for only local wireless play is a bit disappointing, if only because Star Wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron offered full online multiplayer.

Ultimately, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed does possess a compelling story that serves as its main focus and that alone is reason enough to give it a chance, despite the game's technical shortcomings. A higher score would have been guaranteed had these flaws been fixed or at least polished prior to release, but the wealth of modes, energetic action and fun narrative are at least able to join forces to conjure up a Star Wars affair that will prove largely seductive.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 15 September 2008
An entertaining new chapter in the LucasArts saga, but one that could have used a bit more time to fix silly technical flaws before being unleashed
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