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The Force Unleashed Offers Gamers All of the Power, None of the Dogma

The Force Unleashed Offers Gamers All of the Power, None of the Dogma” width=”560″/>

I love Star Wars, but I’ve never been able to swallow the dogma of The Force. It’s portrayal of humanity always seemed overly-simplistic at best, and at worst downright contradictory: “Do, or do not, there is no try,” Yoda instructs a young Luke Skywalker. Star Wars fans have waited a long time for The Force to resonate the way it did when we first saw Vader choke an insubordinate Death Star henchman. All it took was for George Lucas’ masterminds to realize The Force resonated when it was choking people, not preaching to them.

Enter Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, an almost 180-degree departure from the Star Wars canon we’ve come to know and hate, and probably the best thing to come out of the Galaxy Far, Far Away since The Empire Strikes Back. Midi-Chlorians, Dark Side, Light Side, screw all that. The Force Unleashed is really about one thing: Existing in a world where you can run and jump extraordinary distances, pick up and throw far-away objects with the flick of a wrist and shoot deadly electricity out of your fingertips with the ease of flipping a light switch.

Taking place between the prequels and Episode IV, The Force Unleashed casts you as Darth Vader’s “Secret Apprentice” Galen Marek, aka Starkiller, who must help his master exterminate the last of those pesky Jedi. For the gamer, the benefit of this arrangement is that as the secret Sith, you can’t leave any witnesses behind — good guys, bad guys, doesn’t matter — and the manner in which you dispose of them is entirely up to you. A personal favorite: Force Impale, in which you lift an enemy from the ground and throw your lightsaber through his chest. That will never get old.

Of course, these powers have existed in various other Star Wars games, but those who wielded them were always the opposition — what the noble Jedi had to face, never practice. Even the games that allowed you to do these maneuvers did so only after hundreds of hours of stat-building and always under the threat of turning you to the Dark Side, i.e. losing, if you abused them. But honestly, if you had the ability to pick up two guys 100 feet away and smash them into each other, why wouldn’t you? This one doesn’t punish you for making that choice — far from it, it encourages you to kill just about everything from the very first moment, when you’re already so powerful most enemies are able to offer almost no opposition. In fact, if there’s one complaint against the game it’s that the deck is stacked too much in your favor — clearing entire boards is as simple as performing a Force ground slam, and on the rare occasion the baddies do get the better of you, resurrection occurs with almost no consequence to game progress. The benefit of such ease, however, is that the game moves along at an extremely quick pace — perfect for those who don’t have 100-plus hours to devote to a single game.

The Force Unleashed is fast and damn fun, but it also finally addresses the contradictions George Lucas has built up over the years trying to define exactly how it is someone can be either all good or all evil, turn to the Dark Side “forever” only to turn back to the Light at the last minute. And the answer is as simple as choice. Forget the prophecies and the voodoo, at the end of the game your destiny lies with a simple choice to do the “Dark” thing or the “Light” thing. You’re punished for neither; you’re rewarded for both. After 25 years of mumbo-jumbo, finally some dogma that makes sense. Have hope, fans; Star Wars is good again.

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