Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Force Unleased (The Demo)

Until last week, this game was still flying under my radar. I didn’t even know it was coming out next month. Between the game’s frequent delays and growing apathy towards Star Wars games over the last few years (Lucasarts’s handling of Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and subsequent bland, unoriginal games being the chief offenders), I lost interest in The Force Unleashed. But there was enough positive buzz on the internet, including this rather righteous Penny Arcade comic, to jumpstart the fanboy in me – and I downloaded the demo at the first available opportunity.

What did I think of the demo? Well, let’s just say I played through it three times in a row...and several more times (I’d like to keep the exact number private) after that. The camera doesn’t feel right and the targeting can be cumbersome, but the sheer level of badassery on display can’t be denied. If you could combine what this game does just right with the things that Jedi Knight II did just right (which was damn near everything), you would have something truly extraordinary.

My only real complaint with the demo is that it’s too short. I don’t say this because I want the whole game right now – which, obviously, I do – but because I don’t think there’s enough on display here to convince gamers that it’s worth a sixty dollar investment. A longer demo may have answered the one lingering doubt I have about the game: is there enough gameplay to keep Unleashed interesting for (hopefully) ten hours or more?

With the exception of the AT-ST fight at the end of the demo, there isn’t much variety found in the demo. Walk into a room with Imperial Stormtroopers, kill said Stormtroopers by the most painful, humiliating methods possible, and move onto the next room to rinse and repeat. Don’t get me wrong, killing Imperial Stormtroopers in painful, humiliating ways is a private passion of mine, but even it can get old.

Damn, I never thought I’d say that.

I’ve still got a lot of high hopes for The Force Unleashed. It looks like a wonderful bridge between what worked in the prequel trilogy (the Jedi/Sith mythology) and the look and feel of the original trilogy (hobnobbing with Darth Vader and killing fools for him ain't something I’m going to say no to). I haven’t lost myself in a Star Wars game since Republic Commando, and I’d loved to see Lucasarts get back on the right track as game developers.

Here's hoping.

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