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The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Adrick's Rating

3.5 / 4

 

An innovative new video game links the two Star Wars film trilogies, bridging the gap between Episodes III and IV.

The galaxy is on the brink of darkness. The evil Galactic Empire has overthrown the Old Republic and now holds countless worlds in the grip of fear. The Jedi Knights have been all but destroyed. Only a handful has escaped Imperial forces, going into hiding across the galaxy.

But Darth Vader plots to hunt down the Emperor’s enemies—to eliminate the remaining Jedi and to reveal the hidden conspirators in the Senate. Only one person can perform this mission—Vader’s Secret Apprentice, an adept trained from a young age to wield the Force in deadly and destructive new ways.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed features an epic storyline and innovative action-packed gameplay that lets you delve into the mysteries of the Force in previously unimagined ways—and this book explains how this all came to be.

Read about the stories behind this groundbreaking game from concept through final development.


Reviews

Adrick: The Force Unleashed was once heralded as the Star Wars event of the year, a Force storm of cross-media tie-ins with an advanced video game as the centerpiece, a movie-level experience that would provide the “next chapter of the Star Wars saga” and change the way everyone looked at Star Wars video games, and Star Wars and video games in general, etc., etc.

That was before multiple delays caused The Force Unleashed to be put on hold until this September, putting it just after that other gargantuan Star Wars event, The Clone Wars, this time with an actual movie to back it up. As a result, The Force Unleashed has unfairly had its thunder pretty thoroughly stolen.

For those wishing to rekindle that lost excitement, this book may be just the ticket. This is one of the most detailed looks at the creation of an Expanded Universe product I’ve ever seen. We get to find out how the game’s story and characters took shape, and how Lucas’s involvement and market research influenced their creation. Die-hard fans might be a little upset to learn of the somewhat cavalier attitude game designers took towards Expanded Universe continuity in the early design stages (if not for George Lucas, we might have had Princess Leia witnessing the murder of Shaak Ti or leading Mandalorians on Alderaan…) but learning about the process was very enlightening.

As a non-gamer myself, I was amazed at the complexity of creating a game like The Force Unleashed…and at the optimism that dubbed the game “The Star Wars Event of ‘07”. At many stages the game designers were hammering out storyline and level details while the programs used to actually create the game were still being developed.

While the “making of” sections are certainly interesting, the best part about this book is the incredible concept art. The art for earlier incarnations of the game is particularly fascinating—I haven’t seen so many amazing blue sky Star Wars possibilities since Visionaries. There’s a ghostly Mace Windu haunting the alleys of Coruscant, a unified Jedi-and-Sith Force council doing battle five hundred years after Return of the Jedi, the Secret Apprentice dodging superlaser fire on the crystal fields of Haroon, and over a dozen concepts for Darth Plageius. None of these ideas made it into the final version of the game, but they are all intriguing “what if?” possibilities. I hope that some of the discarded characters (like the sinister Corpse Droid) make their way into the Expanded Universe eventually.

The concepts and paintings for the elements that did make it into the game are, of course, just as fascinating, but I would hate to spoil them. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the locations on Felucia, Corellia, and Raxus Prime described in this book on the television screen. Raxus Prime in particular hosts a hauntingly bizarre location that you would have to see to believe.

This book also comes with two envelopes of character cards tucked away within its pages, which was kind of neat. I would have liked to have learned more about the making of the tie-in products, like the novel and action figures, as we did in my other favorite making-of book, Secrets of Shadows of the Empire… But then again unlike Shadows of the Empire, The Force Unleashed is all about the game—and if it looks as good as this book does, it should be quite a game at that.


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