Recently I was able to visit Lucas Arts to play a current build of The Force Unleashed for the Xbox 360. To be honest, I have been looking forward to playing this game since the original concept video was released 2 years ago. From what I was able to play, the game completely delivers on this. I was able to play the first 45 minutes of the game. At least I think it was 45 minutes, I had lost all track of time before the guys at Lucas Arts told us that our time was up.
As I landed on the planet of Kashyyyk, I step off of my transport ship into a small war zone of Clone Troopers vs. Wookies. I am Darth Vader, and I'm a bad ass. Order 66 has been issued, and I have a job to do. The first thing I noticed once I had control of Vader was how gorgeous the game looked, the greens and brown of Kashyyyk really blended well together and provided a nice backdrop for this level. The character models are really well done which helps to deliver that authentic Star Wars feeling.
The developers have cleverly thrown you into the game as Darth Vader to provide you, the player, with a glimpse of what you can do when you're at full power. This helps to give an instant action feel to the game, as well as, deliver some fan service to all those you really ever wondered, "What if...?". The pacing of the first level is really set by speed at which Vader walks. Vader walks because Vader doesn't need to run. This created some really cool moments with blaster fire zipping past Vader's helmet, as I casually raise my arm to choke an unsuspecting Wookie.
As I approached a wooden platform with about 5 or 6 Wookies running at me, I started holding down the Force Push button, charging it up to unleash a burst that sent all of the Wookies over the edge and to their doom. Quickly pressing the Force Push button would release a moderate burst, which I could fire multiple times to clear enemies away from me if things got crazy. I was also able to pick up most objects in the environment, as well as Wookies, and yes even Clone Troopers. There is no penalty for killing any of your own troopers, so I was able to go insane and use Clone troopers as projectile weapons. Once you are dangling an opponent in mid air, you have a few options, you can either throw your light saber at them and impale them in mid-air, or you can force push them away from you, or just drop them over the edge of whatever platform your on. The Force Grab is a catch and release system, so you pull the Right Trigger to grab whatever you have targeted, and you release the Trigger to let go.
The first level came to a close with a battle against a Rouge Jedi, this changed the game from a 3rd person action game to an Arena style battle Sith Vs Jedi. We already know how this is going to end. During the battle, the Jedi would pull passing TIE Fighters out of the sky and try to use them against me. Also during our battle, we would occasionally lock sabers - this would trigger a quick-time event similar to the quick button presses in God of War. I have never been particularly great at quick time events, so I relied on brute force to finish off this boss.
After completion of the training mission as Darth Vader, I move on to playing his Secret Apprentice. Immediately I noticed a difference in speed. This guy can move, as well as perform a double jump. Itís also noticeable that this character currently lacks the raw power of Vader. This is where the RPG elements of game begin. There is an experience bar that builds up as you play the game, filling the bar will let you upgrade your character in 3 different areas. These upgrades are Force Powers, Passive abilities, and Combos. Every time you Level up, you get a token or point in each of the 3 areas. Some upgrades will require multiple points, so you will need to save these points if you want the cooler upgrades.
The first outing as the Secret Apprentice starts off in what appears to be a Hanger Bay, with TIE Fighters hanging above. Using my Force Grab, I was able to pull the ships down off the ceiling and use them as explosive projectiles; this was a very cool feeling when I successfully launched one into a large group of Troopers. There are lots of enemies in this area, and this maneuver helped me take out quite a few opponents from a distance.
After clearing the Hanger, I moved onto some very large corridors with TIE Fighters randomly flying through. This was the set up for one of the coolest things I was able to do in the game. I was able to Force grab a guard and dangle him in mid-air. I moved him out into the line of one the oncoming TIE Fighters, instantly destroying both of them in a single explosion. This gave the game a playground feeling that will add re-playability down the line or something that someone will try to post on you-tube.
The game does have some Force-related puzzles, even though what I saw was pretty simple, I could see potential for some great puzzles later on in the game. Some doors will require you to force grab them and move a giant switch from the bottom of the door to the top. Another had me pulling platforms out of the walls to reach places that I couldn't jump to otherwise.
I was able to witness the Digital Molecular Matter technology, and it really impressed me. It was really visible in the metal doors that I had to force push open; the large metal doors would bend as if I had just crashed a tank through them. Each door would bend differently and sometimes I would have to push them twice because I hadn't aimed properly at the door.
I thought I had been doing fine and I was feeling pretty confident that I could face whatever was around the next corner. I was wrong. After opening a series of doors I entered a room, which had an AT-ST (or something similar) in it, along with Elite guards stationed at mounted turrets. This is where the game kicked my ass, and appropriately this is where Lucas Arts told me my demo was over.
The Game has 4 difficulty modes. 3 of them are available from the beginning. The 4th level of difficulty will be unlocked after completing the game once. The options available to me were Sith Apprentice, Sith Warrior, and Sith Lord. I chose to play on Sith Warrior. When I asked about the length of the game, I was told that a first play-through would take about 15 hours. The game is currently scheduled to release on September 16th of this year.