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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition

Score: 70%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Aspyr
Developer: LucasArts
Media: DVD/2
Players: 1
Genre: Action/ Adventure/ RPG

Graphics & Sound:

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition is a somewhat disappointing port to a game that I actually enjoyed a lot on the console (and overlooked quite a few flaws in order to do so). For one, none of the issues from the console versions were really addressed, and for another, many more issues were created when putting it onto the PC.

At least there is one good thing you can say about Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, as well as most SW titles and that's its presentation. The game looks and sounds great. Between John Williams' soundtrack, and high quality models, textures and videos, the game just looks and feels great. Of course, one thing it doesn't offer, which is bound to displease many PC gamers, is the inability to change the resolution of the game and customize it to their experience per their rig's specs. Unfortunately, there were a few graphical and audio glitches that were apparent in the game, but quite a few of those seem to have been fixed, or at least lessened in frequency with the latest patches.


Gameplay:

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition takes place between Episodes III and IV and starts off soon after Vader has become more man than machine and his hunt for hidden Jedi is in full swing. As Darth Vader, you tear your way through the Wookie's home world of Kashyyyk and discover a young force-sensitive boy whom you take as your own and raise to one day overthrow the Emperor. The game then jumps several years into the future where Vader's Apprentice (who will call himself Starkiller eventually) is sent out to his first solo mission. He must hunt down the head of a rebelling military force who appears to be a Jedi in hiding. From there, Starkiller's journey not only has him going after several surviving Jedi, but also learning about his past and developing a growing internal conflict concerning his allegiance to Vader to what he believe is right.

The Force Unleashed has a few aspects that add a lot of character to the game. Aspects of the core game engine like the Euphoria Engine which allows for a wide variety of enemy reactions, and DMM which allows breaking glass and steel to react just like glass and steel, are fun to see and play with, but in the end feel more like gimmicks and eye candy. The game's core gameplay is all about combat, both with your lightsaber and the Force, and progressing through the game and gaining experience not only grants you points to apply to increase Force powers, but also improved combos that can be either all melee, or a combination of lightsaber and Force abilities.

Ultimate Sith Edition not only comes with the original game, but also three additional levels that delve into the Infinities series (Star Wars' "What If" scenarios) by showing what could happen if you decide to have Starkiller replace Vader at Palpatine's side. Two of the missions are actually downloadable releases for the PS3 and Xbox 360. These have you going through the Jedi Temple as well as Tatooine as you search for R2D2 and C-3PO who have information about the first Death Star. The third mission (and only exclusive content) takes place during Empire Strikes Back on Hoth where you make your way through Echo Base looking for Luke in an ending that leaves the universe going off in yet another interesting direction. I found this mission to be a lot of fun, especially slashing down the planet's many wampas, and this would be enough to warrant getting the PC version if you didn't already have it on a console, but issues discussed later in this review really devalues this added mission.


Difficulty:

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition prefers to overwhelm you with a large amount of smaller and more annoying enemies than present any kind of unique A.I. (besides the reaction-based "Euphoria" system that is), and because of this, you will find yourself racking up an astounding number of kills as you slowly trudge your way through the levels. Also because of the number of enemies, the levels feel a lot longer then they actually are, so a gamer who has a good feel for the controls and combat system who can tear through enemies without much effort (which will most likely be the case for anyone who has already played the console versions) will find the game to be a lot shorter than newcomers to the title.

Game Mechanics:

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition's big issues, especially for PC gamers, are the controls and the expectations that most PC gamers (especially hardcore ones who wouldn't have bought this game on a console already) have. These issues are also why most of them prefer not to play console-to-PC ports. Put simply, the keyboard and mouse controls are slippery and using the force to fling objects (something you will want to do often) will often cause the object to go flying off in a direction you didn't want it to go or worse, grab the wrong object in the first place. The solution the game seems to want you to use is simply plug in your Xbox 360 controller ... then it feels just like playing the game on the console, but that isn't really what PC gamers are looking for.

The other issue I found, and only while doing brief tests to see how the game would react, was that while you can re-map the keys to different actions, during the game's quick-time button press sequences in boss fights, the game still shows the default keys. This, of course, is a big problem if a player remaps all of their keys and doesn't know which of the new keys they will need to tap. I rarely reconfigure the keyboard, but I'm also not a hardcore PC gamer, again unlike most people looking at this game because they didn't want to get it for the consoles.

As much as I was able to overlook some of the glaring flaws in the console version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed and was able to enjoy the story and Force hack-n-slashing nature of the game, I find it hard to recommend this particular release to anyone. Hardcore PC gamers aren't going to like the sloppy keyboard and mouse controls and seeing as most PC gamers hate gamepads, simply saying "plug in a 360 controller" is not going to cut it for them. On the other hand, if you aren't a big PC gamer and you haven't had a chance to play through Force Unleashed, I still find it hard to recommend the PC's The Ultimate Sith Edition since all it really gives you is one extra mission, that while fun and interesting, just doesn't seem worth the effort.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP SP3, Vista SP2, 7; Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 GHz or AMD Athlon X2 5200+ Processor, 2 GB RAM, 23.8 GB Hard Disk Space, DirectX 9.0c Compatible sound card, 3D Hardware Accelerator Card - 100% DiectX 9.0c compatible 256 MB Video Memory with Shader 3.0 Support
 

Test System:



Windows 7 Ultimate, AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core 2.20 GHz, 4 GB Ram, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0c

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