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21 July 2009

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed [DS]

Plot Synopsis: 8/10
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed takes place between Episodes 3 and 4 of the Star Wars saga. It tells the tale of Darth Vader's secret apprentice, who he takes on as a bid to overthrow the Emperor. In the movies, in Episode 3, we see the Emperor's true rise to power, then in Episode 4, the Empire is in the midst of a full-fledged war with the Rebellion. This game addresses some of the gaps between those two chapters of the saga. Unfortunately, there really isn't much more I can say without giving away some major plot points and twists.
I will give the story an 8 out of 10. As I mentioned, the game does address a couple of holes in the saga, as a whole. But, in all, there isn't a lot to the story. In spite of the relative lack of story, there are a few well-placed details that will make any die-hard Star Wars fan question certain elements of the entire mythos.

Game Play: 10/10
The controls are pretty intuitive, here. The directional pad does exactly what you'd expect. The A, B, X, and Y buttons act the same as the directional pad, to compensate for left-handed players. All of your attack functions are handled via a sort of button display on the touch screen. As you progress, you learn combos, where you can press certain "buttons" on the touch screen in a specific order to unleash more powerful attacks. And, in case you forget how to perform those combos, you can pause at any time during your missions and pull up a menu that lists all of the combos you've learned so far with a diagram showing how to perform them.
I'll give the game play a 10. It wasn't buggy. It was very easy to learn. It had easy access to the more difficult aspects of fighting. Most importantly, for me, it actually utilized the DS's touch screen, which not enough games do, in my experience.

Graphics: 8/10
The graphics are about as good as one can expect from a handheld. Anyone familiar with the Star Wars franchise will be able to tell what's what. Most of the time. Admittedly, there was one planet whose inhabitants were a bit hard to read, on such a small scale, but for the most part, the graphics were clear enough.
I'll give the graphics an 8 out of 10. I strongly suspect that the size of the screens hurt the visuals, in a few spots.

Audio: 10/10
There was no voice acting in the DS installment of this game. The music was exactly what you'd expect from a Star Wars title. Big, orchestrated pieces that always fit well with the scene.
I'll give the audio a 10. No complaints what so ever. The folks at Lucasarts perfected the blending of background music and sound effects a long time ago, and this game doesn't disappoint.

Overall Score: 9/10
This game is so well-assembled, that I'm tempted to pick up the Wii version just to see how much better it can get, when there are fewer limits on the visuals. I think this is the highest score i've ever given a game, and I really hope that's not just the Star Wars geek in me coming out.

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