“Have you played?” is a column of gaming recommendations that involve older titles, or games of yesteryear.
Ahh, Star Wars. The franchise clearly has a storied history in cinema, toys, and other items. Thankfully, they also have a storied history in gaming as well.
I believe the first Star Wars game I played was Star Wars: Rebel Assault, which I got for a birthday as a kid. I’m sure it was awful by most standards, but my 12-year-old self loved it, with all its different kinds of games mosh-mashed into one. Shortly after that I acquired Dark Forces, which was a very enjoyable shooter filled with Star Wars enemies and locales.
I have also extensively played Star Wars Jedi Knight II and Jedi Academy, both games I highly recommend. But today, we are here to talk about The Force Unleashed.
Through the magic that is Aspyr Media (long time patron of Star Wars on the Mac), The Force Unleashed was, er, unleashed upon us in 2009. Featuring a modern new engine and the much-touted Euphoria physics engine, I was quickly sucked into its high-res visual world.
Having recently revisited TFU (it’s on Steam and works perfectly on El Capitan) I was struck by still how playable it is for a 7-year-old game. Or should I say, a AAA 7-year-old game, as they do not always age well. But The Force Unleashed is still a downright beautiful game. Every mission takes you to a different planet or location and your characters outfit changes as well. Design wise these are just spectacular, and it makes you wish more games put this level of detail into the environment.
As Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, your missions are often covert. Which means “kill everything” including all rebels, imperials and pretty much anything that moves. More than anything, however, TFU captures the sheer raw power of the force, or perhaps the dark side of the force. In previous SW games you felt masterful to be sure, but here you feel godlike. A wave of your hand sweeps away legions of storm troops like leaves. Lighting jumps from your fingertips like Zeus, and your ability to shift, dodge and jump around through the air feels incredible. Your character radiates an aura of invincibility and danger, and it is freaking awesome to play. In what is perhaps the games trademark sequence, you pull down an entire Star Destroyer from the sky with the Force alone. Don’t mess with this guy.
The action isn’t the only reason to visit the game since it also features a surprisingly good story, full of meaningful questions, adventure, betrayal and a dash of romance. Star Wars stories are pretty much always decent, but this one is straight up good. The DLC also provides some fun extras, especially for fans of the dark side like myself. My favorite mission is the attack on the Jedi temple.
If you haven’t played The Force Unleashed, you should. It’s cheap and runs great on current Mac’s. It isn’t 100% perfect: The camera as with most 3rd person games can get clunky, and the menu’s scream “console” as loud as they can. But don’t let these minor things turn you away from a fantastic and unique Star Wars experience.