I can easily remember a time when practically all Star Wars games released were nothing but mediocre crap – especially during the 32/64-bit days, seeing as how there were a number of solid beat 'em ups on the SNES and Genesis. Thankfully, the PlayStation 2, GameCube, and especially the Xbox, have given us some of the finest Star Wars games, such as the Rogue Squadron games (GameCube), Knights of the Old Republic (Xbox), and the Starfighter games (PlayStation 2). Now we have the very cool Lego Star Wars franchise, which may not be everyone's cup of tea, but they're still pretty solid games. Next up is LucasArts' newest entry, and this one's an all new adventure that takes place between Episode III and IV.
The story here puts you into the shoes of Darth Vader's "Secret Apprentice", and will unravel new pieces of the puzzle about the Star Wars saga. The entire game is being done under the direction from George Lucas himself, so expect the experience to feel very much like a Star Wars movie would. The game will fill the large void between "Revenge of the Sith" and "A New Hope," and you will not be playing as a hero, but rather the enemy. As Darth Vader's apprentice, your goal will be to eliminate Jedi knights once and for all.
LucasArts is putting a lot into the development of The Force Unleashed, as the game will make use of a number of various engines, all with their unique purposes. First, there's the Digital Molecular Matter system, which makes physical objects in the environment act as they would in real-life, under various conditions. For instance, wood will crack like wood should, and glass will shatter appropriately, as opposed to all of that just being pre-determined. The Euphoria system by NaturalMotion is what LucasArts calls a "behavioral-simulation engine." In other words, the characters you interact with will act, move, and even think like human beings. The point is so that they come off feeling as realistic as possible, and adapt their behavior on the fly. All of this is then sealed with Havok's physics engine, which makes Star Wars: The Force Unleashed one of the most interesting titles in development right now.
Now, no Star Wars game would be complete without the usage of the force, and clearly this is what this particular title is all about. As the apprentice, you'll have the ability to make use of four powers of the Force, such as pushing, gripping, repulse, and lightning hits. You'll be able to utilize these powers in combo forms, as well. What's especially cool is that you'll be able to use the Force in all its fury, truly demonstrating your character's evilness, as you'll be able to slam your enemies through walls, as opposed to just into them. Moreover, examples of comboing include being able to grip an enemy in midair, strike him with lightning, and then drop him to explode.
There will be a cast of characters you've never seen before, in addition to a few classics. From what I've seen of the game, so far, it's looking pretty solid. It'll focus heavily on action, similar to games like Devil May Cry, but not nearly as fast and chaotic. The environments are well detailed, capturing the look and feel of the Star Wars universe incredibly well, as expected. The animation seemed to need some work in certain spots, but the footage I've seen is from a much earlier build, and LucasArts has delayed the game from its November 2007 release to Spring 2008 in order to polish it up. Nevertheless, we're looking forward to seeing how well The Force Unleashed turns out, after all, its story will play an integral role in the Star Wars saga.
Look for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed to hit this April 2008.