Last July I managed to get my hands on a Nintendo Wii for my girlfriend's birthday gift. We both love it, but I must confess that I got a little bored with it after a while-primarily because we played the same games over and over.
I can only bowl so many times...
Now, if you've read any other stuff in my blog, you know that I'm a ridiculous over-the-top Star Wars junkie. You can't look in any direction in my office without encountering some sort of Star Wars toy, book, comic, or statue.
So when I heard that LucasArts and Krome Studios were releasing the new Star Wars game, The Force Unleashed, for the Wii... well, let's just say I got a tad bit excited.
I awaited its release in the same way that Ralphie yearned for that Red Rider B-B gun in "A Christmas Story." And my girlfriend, being the cool person that she is, noticed. In a surprise maneuver, she purchased not only the game, but also lightsaber attachments for the Wii controllers.
And now my arms hurt-in a good way. This game does not disappoint.
The story is quite intriguing and slides comfortably into the Star Wars continuity. You play Darth Vader's secret apprentice. In a gambit to overthrow the Emperor, you are sent on training missions to not only gain strength in the Dark Side of the Force, but also to destroy the few rogue Jedi left alive after Order 66 wiped them out at the end of the Clone Wars. On the way you travel all across the Star Wars universe and battle many different creatures and machines-including a Star Destroyer. And, as with all morality plays, you come to a crossroads and have to decide between turning to the side of light or brandishing the powers of evil.
While the Wii doesn't sport the same graphics quality as the Playstation 3 and the X-Box 360, the innovative gameplay makes for quite an immersive experience.
Though movement of the player (i.e. running, walking, and turning) are controlled via the thumb stick on the Wii nunchuck, the rest of the game is almost all physical. You control your lightsaber like... well, a lightsaber. You swing the controller, the lightsaber acts accordingly.
Want to slam bad guys against a wall? Simply push forward with your arm; the nunchuck transmits this movement to the Wii and enemies go flying-as well as crates, broken glass, explosives, and whatever else is in your path. Want to shoot lightning? Simply hit a button.
Deep Fried Bad Guy
The sheer delight of destruction reigns supreme in this game. Things blow up-a lot of things. Glass shards fly everywhere. Huge metal beams get ripped from walls (and hopefully thrown to pummel bad guys). Electricity arcs between destroyed computer conduits. It's quite impressive.
There are three physics engines employed by the game:
The Havok Engine: Controls the movement of objects.
The Digital Molecular Matter (DMM) Engine: Regulates which substances an object is made of (i.e. metal, rock, plant, glass, etc.).
The Euphoria Engine: Ascertains how enemies interact with the environment. This is particularly interesting in that it means that no enemy will act the same way twice. Their actions are contingent on the destruction you choose to wreak around them.
One of the downsides of the Wii is that it is not graphically advanced enough to utilize all of these engines to their greatest effect. But that's where the unique control systems of the Wii come to play-as well as a bonus.
A mode exclusive to the Wii is the Two-player Duel. Wanna open up a can of whoop-ass on a buddy? This is a pretty good way to do it without really coming to fisticuffs.
You didn't take out the trash! Pay! Pay for your insolence!!!!
This mode is made even more fun if you have a lightsaber atttachment for your Wii controller.
In my case, the "lightsabers" are actually Wii Glo Swords from Nintendo. Apparently LucasArts is developing a lightsaber attachment of their own that will be more true to the designs seen in the films-but a release date has yet to be announced.
Perfectly designed to knock over a lamp
The Wii controller clicks into a slot on the sword. While a bit top-heavy, due to the location of the three AA batteries needed to power the LED illuminated "blade," they still add another level of immersion to the gaming experience. Thanks to the tiny speaker in the Wii controller, they sound real as well. The controller also vibrates in sync with the actions performed on screen.
Plus they also look way-cool if you're drunk and messing around with your camera:
Beer + Glo Swords
Overall it's a pretty accessible game once you master the controls. My girlfriend's niece figured it out--sort'a.
The Dark Side can come in cute, yet menacing little packages...
One complaint I have about The Force Unleashed experience is the in-game camera. Perspective is everything when you're in a lightsaber duel and it simply maneuvers too slow; this can result in your character being attacked without you knowing what’s happening. The Wii controls take a bit of practice to get used to; it would help if you could always see what was going on.
It would be nice if this game somehow integrated with the Wii Fit to incorporate balance into the mix. Or if Nintendo and the various software companies could come up with another controller that you put in your pocket that would emulate walking and running. That way you could truly get a workout.
But ya know... This is one of the more entertaining experiences I've had while destroying evil minions of the Galactic Empire.
May the Force Be With You. Or is it... May the Wii Be With You? Either way, you're in for something special.
The Wii, The Force Unleashed, and the Wii Glo Swords can all be found at amazon.com.