Home Features More than a decade later, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is still a benchmark in storytelling

More than a decade later, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is still a benchmark in storytelling

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Star Wars is what happens when you take dungeons ‘n dragons and give it a sci-fi makeover. Jokes aside, Star Wars is still a pop culture phenomenon and one that looks like it’ll never ever be out of fashion. It was a juggernaut when it debuted in 1978, each sequel helped create a legion of fans and even during the darker years set between the end of Return of the Jedi and the new prequel trilogy, that flame burned bright.

The success of Star Wars doesn’t just come from its cinematic source material though. It’s the canny positioning of this franchise and its ability to evolve into other forms of media that have helped it emerge as a pop culture phenomenon. You look at the video game side of the equation, and this was a brand that was a recipe for success when handled correctly.

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Just think of the classics that you played in your younger years. The SNES had the Super Star Wars games, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is still a brilliant use of the Quake 3 arena engine and we’re still waiting for that Republic Commando sequel that will allow us to get revenge for Sev. These days, it’s a different story entirely, thanks to EA’s mishandling of the franchise.

There used to be a time when Star Wars games were damn good, and in a few rare cases, actually better than their source material. The Force Unleashed is one such example, one of the last big budget games of an era before Disney took over and a showcase for what passion, cutting edge technology and actual heart could achieve. It’s also the only game within that sub-series, and any talk of their being a sequel more half-arsed than the remains of a fella who was sawed in half vertically, are clearly rubbish and I refuse to believe that such a game even exists.

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Back to the original though. What a game. While its core gameplay is typical of its era (quick-time events for every boss fight that robs you of actually watching the action unfold on the screen!), it’s still a remarkable experience for its time.This wasn’t just another Star Wars game, this was the start of a new chapter within the franchise, one that had actual links to the source material and was relevant to the canon long before the expanded universe was given a Starkiller Base scrubbing after Disney took over.

That gave The Force Unleashed some actual weight and importance in the grand scheme of Star Wars, a coveted spot on the shelf with the most important storylines of the series. You know what really helped sell the secret history of the Rebellion though? A story that actually gave a damn. Brisk and fresh, The Force Unleashed was Galen Starkiller’s tale. It was his origin, his purpose in life and his final battle, a done in one narrative that was designed to create a new icon.

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Thanks to Samuel Witwer’s performance, you felt for Galen. You empathised with him, and you connected with a rogue agent of the Force whose life was comprised of danger, mystery and betrayal. With actors such as Nathalie Cox, Cully Frederickson and David Collins adding their own talents to the ensemble cast, The Force Unleashed felt like a small yet ambitious slice of Star Wars. A spin-off before Rogue One and Han Solo’s origin story, this was the benchmark for taking a familiar story and giving it a new spin.

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The Force Unelashed was also a technical tour de force when it was released. If you ever wanted to find out what would happen if Kratos became Force-sensitive, then this was the game to answer your very weird question, you odd fellow you. You could choke Stormtropers en masse as if you were at an autoerotic asphyxiation convention, twirl your lightsaber with a flourish that would make Jedi masters jealous and zap opponents with that trademark Force Lightning that threatened to corrupt you further.

And then there’s that scene, where Starkiller’s use of the Force mirrors what Yoda would say later to Luke Skywalker: Size matters not.

I’ve been replaying The Force Unleashed on Xbox One lately thanks to a little of the ol’ backwards compatibility, and overall this brave entry at rewriting Star Wars lore still holds up pretty well. It’s fundamentally solid, engaging and fun. It’s also proof that for a brief time in 2008 before everything went wrong for the license, the Force was indeed strong with video games.

Last Updated: January 29, 2019

57 Comments

  1. I played this back in the day when it came out but apparently I didn’t think much about it cause I actually forgot I played the game. When the sequel came out I was all exicted and couldn’t think why I never played the first one. Then I realised I had the game and even all my savegames but I can’t remember at all that I played it. So either I was in a very bad place at that time or the game was so crap it got wiped from my mind. The only time that has ever happened to me (that I can remember XD)

    Reply

    • Original Heretic

      January 29, 2019 at 15:47

      I generally game while high. So I remember I’ve played it, but specifics can be hazy at times.

      Reply

      • MaSeKind

        January 29, 2019 at 15:55

        I’m pretty sure I would have been as well. But I’ve never completely forgotten that I played a game before. Sometimes I wish I did though

        Reply

        • Guz

          January 29, 2019 at 16:28

          Done that with series, Binge watched and then forgotten important bits of the story but know that I did watch it

          Reply

        • Original Heretic

          January 29, 2019 at 16:04

          Your mission now is to find the shit you were smoking back then ’cause apparently it was amazing!

          Reply

          • MaSeKind

            January 29, 2019 at 16:12

            Haha well I can almost guarantee the shit I get now is more potent than back in the day. Although if it was the stuff we got from that Rasta in Stellenbosch, holy crap! Talk about trippin balls XD

          • Original Heretic

            January 29, 2019 at 16:12

            I hear you man. The stuff I get now, well, yeah, way better than 10 years ago.
            Mate of mine in CT buys from a Rasta there. When he visits, he always remarks how much better my stuff is. Is niiiiice!
            But that’s also how different people are. I’ve met some Rastas who smoke anything, others who are a bit more discerning in their tastes. Me? I can’t smoke low grade crap anymore. Tastes horrible!

          • MaSeKind

            January 29, 2019 at 16:19

            True some of those guys are real connoisseurs!
            But yeah I’d probably die now if I had to smoke the same stuff we used to buy from the rastas in Bellville. Pretty sure it was more actual grass. But we were young and desperate

          • Original Heretic

            January 29, 2019 at 16:20

            Ugh, jeez man, I think back to some of the stuff we used to get. Yup, pretty sure there was actual grass in there. Not to mention far too many stems and pips.
            5 min in, headache!
            But it was cheap and we were poor.
            I still have a mate who buys crap like that when he can’t afford the good shit I organise. I get it fairly cheap, but it’s still more expensive than low grade crap.

          • Guz

            January 29, 2019 at 17:00

            would just rather not smoke tbh, headache for sure

          • MaSeKind

            January 29, 2019 at 16:28

            I must say prices and quality has been pretty stable for me the last few years. Actually bought bulk for a while a few years ago. Shit from Ghana apparently. But now I get home deliveries. What a time to be alive 🙂

          • Original Heretic

            January 29, 2019 at 16:28

            I have a guy who would deliver to my home…but wife says no.
            But she still smokes half of what I buy every month!

          • MaSeKind

            January 29, 2019 at 16:28

            Damn where can I get a wife like that!

          • MaSeKind

            January 29, 2019 at 16:28

            Damn where can I get a wife like that!

          • Original Heretic

            January 29, 2019 at 16:28

            Ha! Dude, it’s like, it’s been a requirement for my relationships for the last 15 years.
            She’s gotta smoke with me. Cause if she doesn’t, you constantly get kak about it.
            We have one very important rule: no smoking around our son or while he’s awake. I’m not gonna tarnish my time with him.

          • Guz

            January 29, 2019 at 17:00

            Respect!

          • Guz

            January 29, 2019 at 17:00

            She owes you baked goods I rekon

          • Original Heretic

            January 29, 2019 at 18:35

            Nah, I’m the baker. I make awesome muffins.

          • Guz

            January 29, 2019 at 17:00

            It was jut dude

          • HvR

            January 29, 2019 at 17:44

            Pretty sure all of them are going bankcrupt; ever since the court ruling it seems that every second dude in Bellville is growing his own crop.

          • Guz

            January 29, 2019 at 17:00

            No more swazi for me, indoor all day!

      • Guz

        January 29, 2019 at 16:28

        For my single player games 100% but in my multiplayer games in cant, I get way to competitive and hate it when I cost my team when I’m a little “slow”

        Reply

        • Original Heretic

          January 29, 2019 at 18:35

          I get super focussed. To the point where I get a fright if someone interrupts me!

          Reply

  2. Alien Emperor Trevor

    January 29, 2019 at 15:03

    I tried to get into this. I gave it a few hours before giving up because the controls on PC were so terrible they were actively ruining the experience.

    Reply

  3. konfab

    January 29, 2019 at 15:47

    This game is one of my favorites.

    The scene at the beginning of the final level really is one of the best scenes in the whole of the Star Wars franchise.

    Reply

    • R1ker

      January 29, 2019 at 16:51

      Damnit – after watching this I really need to play this game again

      Reply

      • The D

        January 29, 2019 at 16:51

        If you have an Xbox One, it’s currently in the Game Pass library.

        Reply

        • R1ker

          January 29, 2019 at 16:52

          Crap my game pass expired. Luckily i see Game pass got a special on it for renewal. Will be giving this a go over the weekend.

          Edit: R15.90 until August it seems 🙂

          Reply

  4. Caveshen Rajman

    January 29, 2019 at 16:13

    THANK YOU.

    Reply

  5. Tbone187

    January 30, 2019 at 10:57

    Only played the 2nd one but I hear it’s not anywhere as good as the first. I thought it was okay tho.

    Reply

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