DS Review: Star Wars – The Force Unleashed

The DS isn’t known for its incredible ability to process physics, so why LucasArts thought it would be a good idea to port a physics heavy title like The Force Unleashed to the hardware is anyone’s guess. The game isn’t unplayable, but it’s lacking in numerous areas that sap away any chance of it being fun.

The game follows the same story path as its console brothers. You start as Vader, and then take over as the Jedi apprentice, Starkiller. The levels have the same purpose, but are designed in a tighter, more linear, and unrecognizable form. You could say it’s an entirely new game in that sense, even if the story is the same.

Aside from moving around, all of your attacks and jumping are handled with the touch screen. Not only is it cumbersome to hold the DS with this configuration, it seems rather pointless since the DS has enough buttons to handle all of the same tasks (with the exception of block).

All destruction feels canned or the same. Obviously, the DS won’t deliver in this area as well other consoles, but the feeling of breaking debris simply isn’t there. Special moments where you can do something cool (like pull a tie fighter down on someone) are done via cinematics. It’s not very interactive or enthralling. Top that off with lackluster visuals and you’re not left with much of anything.

A few mini-games exist, such as saber duels. You use the touch screen to move a saber around to block attacks, and then strike back. This is a decent use of the touch screen; something that would have separated this from other versions in which you just hack away at foes. Sadly, it’s about the only decent use of the controls to be had.

While the usual array of Star Wars themes are here, they bring back rather awful memories of Shadows of the Empire on the N64. They’re few in number, heavily compressed, and repeat constantly. Things don’t get any better with the two mutli-player modes, including a simple deathmatch and less than intriguing one-on-one mode called Force Battle. Both modes are local only.

Why the developers felt the need to make this completely 3-D is baffling. Putting this in a setting like Episode III on the DS, in classic beat-em-up form with additional force powers, would have been great. Instead, this is a clunky, hard to control title that’s not even a shadow of what it was elsewhere.