E3 2008: <i>Star Wars: The Force Unleashed</i>

A new Star Wars game that takes place between the two film trilogies.

The Star Wars movie series is over, but the brand name lives on, thanks to spin-offs like toys, novels, and, of course, video games. The dozens of Star Wars video games released over the past 20 years have gotten something of a bum rap--after all, the source material inspires such loyalty that a video game made with minimal involvement from George Lucas can't possibly live up to fans' expectations (and yes, a lot of those Star Wars games were pretty mediocre, too).

Some Force powers being...um...unleashed.

Aiming to remedy this, and update their product line for a generation used to slick action-packed experiences such as Gears of War and Halo 3, Lucasarts has created a game designed to appeal to adrenaline junkies and Star Wars fans alike. By "unleashed," the game's title indicates that the mystical Force powers used so sparingly in previous Star Wars games are the main star here--and using them to toss enemies around, rip open giant metal doors, and zap lightning bolts from your fingertips is very fulfilling experience, judging from our hands-on time with the game.

At its core, this is a basic follow-the-path third-person action game, where your character (Darth Vader's secret apprentice, if that's important) walks down corridors, finds an open area full of enemies and has to wipe them all out before moving on. Despite the somewhat repetitive set-ups, the game's all-too-brief opening level where you play as Darth Vader himself, is a total kick.

A note for trivia junkies--Darth's familiar guttural tone comes not from James Earl Jones but an amazing soundalike named Matt Sloan, who was discovered playing the voice of Darth's cousin, Chad Vader, in a series of popular Internet shorts.

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