Whilst my Kotaku brethren were toiling away at various long winded sessions, I had th honor of being shipped out to Lucas Arts Studios to check out some of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Once we arrived I was greeted by a Yoda fountain outside and an incredible waiting area with amazing old movie posters and some life size figures of Darth Vader and Boba Fett. We were then ushered into the theater where the the presentation began.
Besides the few clips I'd seen floating around, this was the first extensive experience I'd had with the game. Now it certainly wasn't a "hands on" by any means, but we got to see a fair amount in the half hour presentation. In Force Unleashed you play Darth Vader's Secret Apprentice who has been sent by Vader to involve yourself in nefarious deeds. The game actually takes place between the two trilogies, nestled in between Episodes 3 and 4. There is a heavy theme of redemption and we are clued in that where we start in this game as characters may not be where we end up at the end. And of course, The Force Unleashed has plenty of one thing: The Force!
When creating the title one of the things the developers wanted was the ability to use the Force at all times. "When I hit a button, it better do something with the Force" was their motto and believe me there is plenty to be had. Wannabe Jedis can use Force Pushes to move objects and enemies, they can grab enemies and throw them around like rag dolls. In one of the levels, a TIE fighter construction facility, our character was picking up entire ships and hurling them at enemies, scattering them like bowling pins (there will be an Achievement for destroying TIE Fighters!). Lightning can be harnessed and used to shock enemies as well as turning them into powerful "Lightning Grenades." Just charge that enemy up with lightning and then throw their electrified corpse in the battle and watch the fun. The Force can also be used to solve puzzles and open doors whether that's actually manipulating the locks or just using brute force and knocking the thing down. The Force can also be combined with traditional light saber attacks to create deadly combos. The PS3 and 360 versions of the game will have 24 unlockable combos each. The destructible environments are filled with endless amounts of ammo guaranteeing you'll never be far away from something to manipulate and throw. A special "pay off" camera can also be employed so you can watch what happens to enemies as they skitter off and slam into walls.
But not all enemies can be just tossed about. Many of them have their own Force powers that can be quite something to reckon with. In one battle we watched as enemy Jedis turned the junk and garbage lying around to create powerful Junk Titans to protect them. At the end of each level you will be faced with the inevitable Boss battle, usually a top Jedi with their own over-the-top special Jedi powers that you will have to overcome. Many battles end with finishing moves along the lines of the button pushing endings of God of War battles. However missing a button here does not give you as stiff a penalty and players who get it right the first time will be rewarded with extra points that can be spent on weapon and Force power ups later.
The environments were rich and varied. Besides the TIE Fighter facility we were also able to check out a Clone Wars battle ground as well as the planet of Felucia which is overgrown with giant fungi. The environments, while not endless, certainly have plenty to explore and will be filled with all sorts of secret areas and surprises for those who want to take the time to do a little searching rather than plowing straight through the main game.
We looked a little at the Wii version of the game and as expected the graphics weren't nearly as rich. There will be extra locations and characters in the Wii and PS2 versions, but the overall storyline will remain unchanged across all the platforms. One thing the Wii version will have to itself though, is Duel Mode. Put together like a traditional fighting game, Wii owners will be able to choose from twenty different characters from the Star Wars Universe to battle against their friends. Two players can battle it out to the death while flailing their Wii-remotes about like light sabers. It should be noted however that the Wii controls are not one to one gestures, but have been adjusted to suit the gameplay.
Once the presentation was over the talk reverted to a Q&A which revealed a few interesting tidbits such as the fact that Darth Vader's voice in the game is provided by the guy behind the Chad Vader series of YouTube videos. One fellow asked if limbs would be able to be hacked of like in one of the earlier SW games and we were told that no, beheadings and limb removal would be a thing of the past. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed will be released as a "T" rated title across all platforms guaranteeing that pretty much everyone will be able to enjoy unleashing their mega Jedi powers on the world.