In a galaxy far, far away

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was released on Sept. 16, and casts players as Darth Vader’s “Secret Apprentice.”By Paul Mullin

The hangar doors whoosh open in front of you, and you enter a massive room filled with soldiers. Laser bolts whizz past as you observe your surroundings. It’s maddening, so you casually pull a TIE fighter from its berth and send it crashing down into the middle of the crowd.

This is just one of the many ways that The Force Unleashed, the newest game to carry on George Lucas’ Star Wars vision, lets gamers take total command of the mystical powers of the Force in ways they never could before.

The game, released Sept. 16 on all major consoles, Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable, does almost everything well, but there are a few points that detract from what could have been one of the most entertaining games to hit the market.

Set in the largely unexplored era between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope, the game casts the player as the legendary Darth Vader’s “Secret Apprentice,” on a quest to aid his master in ridding the galaxy of the Jedi Knights.

The PS3, PS2 and X-box 360 versions were blessed with two brand new pieces of programming technology that go a long way in making this game unlike any Star Wars experience gamers have ever had.

The first, Digital Molecular Matter (DMM), makes environments behave more realistically. If a player throws a box at a pane of glass five times, it will shatter five different ways.

The second, nicknamed euphoria, affects artificial intelligence, completely changing the way characters behave and react. For instance, if a player picks up a box with the Force and moves it slowly toward a crowd of soldiers, they will dive out of the way to avoid it.

Simply put, these two new technologies ensure that no two actions in the game will result in the same reaction, affording a different experience with every play.

Besides that, the graphics are stunning, the combat is engaging and the storyline is amazing. There are revelations about the Star Wars universe here that are nothing short of mind-bogglingly awesome.

But it is not without its flaws. A single run through the story is short, lasting less than 10 hours, and cursed with the occasional bug. There is also a moment where you have to play a mini-game to pull a very large object out of the sky. That’s as tedious as it gets.

Personally, these things did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the game. Even after the final cutscene, the desire still exists to go back through with a beefed-up character and wreak havoc all over again. Combine that with the fact that there are a bunch of interesting little extras to go after, and you have an experience that will be blowing your mind for days.

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