Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on the iPhone

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The Force Unleashed begins the way every Star Wars title does…the yellow text crawls dramatically up the screen, setting the stage for the adventure which is about to take place.  As that yellow scroll begins to fade, most of us will feel a slight tingle in our spine as the anticipation builds.  Then again, Star Wars has been something of a mixed bag lately.  Will this thrill and excite the way the original movies did in the 1970’s and 1980’s.  Or, will it be an overpriced, over-hyped event with a special effects albatross weighing it down.  Because it takes place in the time between the two trilogies…anything is possible.  Let’s take a closer look.

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The storyline of the game is pretty simple.  You are Darth Vader’s secret apprentice.  The game follows you as you use your developing Force powers to gather the Emperor’s enemies together and spur them into action .  The hope, of course, being that together, Darth Vader and his secret apprentice will rule the galaxy.

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One of the problems with the game, right off the bat, is that we know before we begin that the mission is doomed to failure.  Of course Darth Vader did not overthrow the Emperor before Star Wars:A New Hope ever took place.  So, that makes it a little bit hard to suspend our disbelief.  But not too much.

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The story then unfolds in six chapter, in which you must battle your way through enemy territory and ultimately face a Jedi or other “big boss” in order to complete the chapter.  At the end of each chapter, you will learn a new Force power (or powers) which will help you on the next level.

Once I got past the fact that the story’s outcome was predetermined, I really did enjoy watching the story of the game unfold.  I won’t spoil everything for you, but I will say that it fits very well into the Star Wars universe, and serves as nice bridge between the events of Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope.

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Gameplay itself, I found to be a bit simple.  Disappointingly, you really have little control over your character’s actions.  You cannot explore on your own or really move around at all.  That is all done for you.  Likewise, aside from deflecting enemy laser fire, you will have no control over your lightsaber.  The only control you have in the game is using your Force powers, which you can accomplish by drawing various shapes and patterns on the screen. 

I think the game would have been much better if it had offered more interaction in different areas, such as exploring the various worlds, fighting with your lightsaber, and even interacting with different characters (I have not tried the Wii version of the game, but I understand it is much more robust).  I am sure there were certain limitations associated with this being a mobile version of the game, but I just felt the developers left too much out.

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In addition to the story mode, there is also a survivor mode.  After you complete each chapter, you will unlock a survivor mode based upon the locations of that chapter.  In survivor mode, wave after wave of enemies will attack from all sides.  All you have to do is fight them off using your Force powers.

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The graphics and animation in The iPhone version of The Force Unleashed were another mixed bag.  While the background graphics and cut scenes were extremely well drawn, I thought the characters and animation was not as good as it could have been.  Many of the characters’ movements were choppy and out of sync with the sound effects.  Frankly, I just felt it could have been better; and characters like this have been done much better in other games. 

Overall, while I really enjoyed this game, I thought it was far too short and easy to justify the $9.99 price tag.  This took me almost no time to finish, and presented little, if any challenge.  I think I would have enjoyed this game significantly more if it had cost $4.99 or less.  For $9.99, however, I would have expected the game to last more than one day.

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