CES 2008: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

LucasArts was kind enough to invite me out to their private suite to see the latest build of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Unfortunately, they weren’t kind enough to give me some hands on time, but the game looks amazing, so I’ll let that slide this time.

Set in the time between Episodes III and IV, The Force Unleashed puts players in the shoes of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice. You are not some errand boy; the Sith Lord sends you on a quest to wipe out every last Jedi, and you have the unleashed Force at your disposal. If you’ve ever wanted to be one bad guy against the world, The Force Unleashed is your game

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I got a chance to lay eyes on a Xbox 360 build of the title. Details and story specifics are still on lock down, but I can say that worlds like Raxus Prime and Felucia were a sight to behold. Some stages seemed practically endless, and all were a visual treat even in the game’s unfinished state. I had to force a smile and nod every time they looked at me during the demo, the whole time forcing back the urge to snatch away the controller to get a taste for myself.

The game uses two new technologies, DMM (digital molecular matter) and Euphoria. DMM simulates how matter would behave in the real world, opting for realistic calculations over switched animations. Using the Force to bash in metal doors causes them to bend in a very realistic way, and its nice to know that what you’re seeing isn’t canned animations; it could be different every time you hit it. Every environment’s reaction to the player’s actions seemed real.

The Euphoria software is a human counterpart to DMM. This gives characters a nervous system, and it enables them to act and react in very human ways. Enemies will dodge shots, take cover, and hold on for dear life when given the opportunity, and this all seems to give the game a real sense of life and depth.

The gameplay looks to be an absolute blast. Every button press seemed to bring about mass destruction, and a string of Force powers can go beyond that to bring about punishing combos. You really get the sense that anything can be destroyed by the Force, and from what I saw, just about anything is game.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is a multi-console title, with each version having its own exclusive content. From what I understand, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions will be similar. Khrome Studios is developing the PS2 and PSP versions, as well as the anticipated Lightsaber/Wii Remote Wii version. It’s also coming to the DS, and will use stylus swipes to input battle commands.

As I said earlier, details are still on lock down, but stay tuned for more on Star Wars: The Force Unleased soon.

Dale North