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News

Mac Game Review – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Ultimate Sith Edition

Use the Force to destroy everything and everyone in your path – this is easily the most visceral Star Wars game to date

Star Wars1Here at iCreate we have something of a soft spot for Aspyr. For the last 14 years it has been the saviour for many Mac gaming fans, porting everything from the Call Of Duty series to SimCity 4. If you’ve bought a blockbuster game over the last decade and a half, chances are it was ported by the magicians at Aspyr.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is the company’s most recent port, and it’s an interesting one too. The game was originally released for the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii in September 2008. During its development stage a PC version was expected (Mac users being left out as usual), but when nearing its release the development team revealed the game would be console exclusive, as only PC gamers with a £4,000 high-end system would be able to play it. There was a good reason: the game uses the Euphoria engine for calculating complex character physics, and the Digital Molecular Matter engine for destructible

Specs
materials. Put simply, the player can damage and distort the environment and the characters are animated on-the-fly using a bone rigging system. Blowing things up has never looked so spectacular. It took the clever coders at Aspyr to finally tame this complicated engine and bring it to both the PC and Mac – perhaps you can see why we have such a soft spot for them?

In detail 1
This is clearly a console port, however – it’s easier to navigate the menus using the keyboard than the mouse, and there are loading screens when moving from section to section. But when you’re playing it’s easy to forget these niggles. This is a third-person action game, packed with explosive action and platforming. You begin the game as Darth Vader, who is practically invincible and incredibly powerful. It’s a great way to ease players into the game. From the second level on, however, you’ll be playing as his new apprentice, one with substantially fewer abilities. You’re given a limited number of Force powers, those being Force Push (enabling you to hurl objects and characters out of your way) and Force Pull (lifting objects or people and flinging them around). As the game progresses your character levels up and accumulates Force points, which can be spent upgrading three character traits: Force Talents, being your total health energy and damage; Force Combos, specific attack moves; and Force Powers, which increase
In Detail 2
your push and pull abilities, cast Force Lightning and enable you to throw your lightsaber. Using the Force to unleash havoc upon your enemies is genuinely amazing. Rooms and set pieces are literately torn to shreds in a realistic manner, and characters wriggle and writhe as you hold them mid-air using Force Grip. This is the first time a Star Wars game has accurately depicted how the Force can be used. Inevitably, the novelty of being able to destroy everything in your path soon fades. An hour into the game and you’ll be wishing for more varied levels with a more tightly woven story. The cut scenes are fantastic (for the first time in a game we didn’t want to skip them), but when dropped into the game itself there’s nothing to do but battle our way through the linear levels to see where the story progressed next.

The story is something quite special. The Rebellion has fallen, Darth Vader and the Emperor have free reign to conquer the galaxy, and two twins separated at birth are growing up light years apart. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed takes place somewhere inbetween Revenge Of The Sith and A New Hope – a period not covered by the movies. The game’s story is officially endorsed by LucasArts, so in a way it’s a playable Star Wars film with its own unique characters

In detail 3
and plot twists. It follows Darth Vader as he ventures to the Wookiee’s home world of Kashyyyk to track down any surviving Jedis. While there he discovers a child strong in the Force and secretly trains him to become his new apprentice – the ultimate goal being to overthrow the Emperor. You play that apprentice in adulthood, and as the game progresses you travel to various planets, meet some recognisable faces and ultimately decide the fate of the galaxy. We won’t give away any plot secrets, but we will say it’s surprisingly well written and completely enthralling.
Killer Feature
So, with this fantastic story, explosive third-person action and incredible physics engine, how does this play on the Mac? Disappointingly, not very well. We played through it using a 13-inch MacBook Pro, and the game ran in slow motion, the frame rates becoming especially dismal when any significant action occurred onscreen. We’d suggest using either the latest iMac or a recent MacPro to play this game; basically, any Mac with an Intel i5 or i7 processor.

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