Preview from Yug – Monday, 03 March 2008 @ 8:40pm

Reviewed on:Wii

Players:1 – 2 Players
Release:TBA
Developer:Krome Studios
Distributor:LucasArts
Yug visits the newly acquired Melbourne branch of Krome Studios and gets some hands on playtime with the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Unleashed game on the Wii
I recently got the chance to visit Krome Studios Melbourne and get some hands on playtime with Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. It should be mentioned that the version Krome Studios are working on for the PS2, Wii and PSP is built from the ground up using a different engine to the LucasArts developed Xbox 360 and PS3 version. Although the single player is generally the same, it’s probably going to be a different enough experience to warrant mention.

With that out of the way, I should also mention the version I got to play was the one that excited me the most – the Wii version.

Ever since we all realised the capabilities of Nintendo’s latest console and controller, there has been the constant thought at the back of every true geeks mind – when do we get to play game that will let me use the wiimote like a lightsaber?

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat here – this is not that game. In fact, after hearing WHY this is not that game, I doubt there will EVER be that kind of game. While the concept works great in my head, in practice the concept doesn’t translate quite as well to a gaming experience. What happens when your lightsaber connects on screen but your swinging motion keeps going? How frustratingly difficult would deflecting be? Technical limitations aside (although they are there as well), I like my Star Wars games to be fun, and the idea of a lightsaber simulation game doesn’t sound as appealing when I actually think about the practical logistics behind it.

Nothing up this sleeve, nothing up this sleeve, and now … for my next trick … BAM!

Ok, Ok, so I might be trying to convince myself as much as I’m trying to convince you here, but with good reason. What we have here is a solid Star Wars game that is not only fun, but looks to have a seriously cool single player story line, and some very fluid integration of the Wii motion controls.

The first taste I got of the game was actually a mode exclusive to the Wii and PSP versions of the game – Battle Mode. There hasn’t been a Star Wars fighting game since Star Wars: Masters of Teräs Käsi on the Playstation (a game which I loved and thought was highly underrated), so I was stoaked about the inclusion. There seems to be a good selection of about 8 levels or so, the one we chose was in what looked like a Star Destroyer hanger.

It was here I got to grips with the unique Wii controls. The wiimote motions control the swing of your lightsaber – horizontal movement makes a horizontal swing, vertical movement make a vertical slash, and thrusting the wiimote forward will make your onscreen character do likewise. Although it took a bit of calibration to get the stabbing motion down, the rest of it felt great, with your movements represented on the screen almost instantaneously.

The nunchuck controls your force powers, and this is where the real fun part of the game is. Swinging the nunchuck does a standard Force push, while holding C will shoot bolts of lightning out of your hands. When an object (or character) is highlighted, you can press Z and pick them up, then use the joystick to move them around. From this position you can either hammer the nunchuck down to slam the object into the ground, or let go of Z to send it flying off in whatever direction you were moving it in.

For those hoping for some sort of ‘Street Fighter’ style combos, you’re out of luck, although there are some basic moves that can be strung together. Unfortunately stringing together combos with wiimote movements is pretty tricky to do, so the developers dropped it in favour of quick actions and promoting the use of force powers. You can however block any incoming attacks by holding the wiimote up horizontally, and eventually your character will power up, making their force powers stronger.

It’s OK to be a little pushy in this game

Without knowing too much about the single player part of the game, I want a copy of it for this mode alone. Right up there with Wii Sports and Rockstar presents Table Tennis, this looks to be one of those really easy to pick up and play multiplayer games and I can’t wait to play it with the help of mates and alcohol – never was there a better combination of factors to help test the merits of the multiplayer mode in a game.

I was eventually shown a single player mission, with the level taking place on Courosant. After a nice rendered cut scene the game began, and I couldn’t help but feel like the graphics resembled Knights of the Old Republic. Certainly not a criticism, just strange considering the difference in the ‘types’ of games. Seeing the moves previously perfected in battle mode used in a more open environment on multiple enemies was heaps of fun, and although I’m sure eventually I would probably get tired of picking up storm troopers and force flinging them into each other, the appeal didn’t wear off while I was there.

Speaking of the single player, I should probably mention a bit about the storyline, but I didn’t really get shown much of it and to be honest – I didn’t ask many questions. You’re a bad ass Dark Jedi, Darth Vaders apprentice, and in the level I saw you progress to a point where you had to defeat another Sith Lord in battle to earn Lord Vaders approval.

Seriously though, you’re a Dark Jedi – what more do you want to know? I always prefer to be the bad guy in the Star Wars universe – god knows I preferred the evil ending in Dark Forces 2: Jedi Knight.

The boss battle I saw was against a guy called Darth Desolous, and was most probably the same species as the one Bruce Spence played in Episode 3 (look it up, he’s an Aussie acting legend). Each boss will have some sort of mechanic you use to defeat them, after which you will receive a new power. In this case, it was the ability to throw your lightsaber.

And that’s all I was able to see, but it was definitely enough. It’s a tough decision for a lot of people out there – AJ was telling me all about the amazing advanced physics and graphics of the 360 and PS3 versions, and yet the battle mode in the Wii version has won me over. Either way, it looks like a solid title for Star Wars fans – myself included.