Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Unleash the Force on your PSP

While the game may be most visually appealing on the PS3, it is Sony's little PSP that offers the most features and content for The Force Unleashed. There are play modes and content in Unleashed only available on the PSP; and it is for this reason that I will be covering the PSP version of the game. Well, that, and because I don't have any of the other systems.

So much Force, such a little platform

As far as visual appeal goes, I found TFU's (The Force Unleashed) graphics on the PSP to be the best of just about any game I've played on the system so far. Developers are limited not only by the size of the screen, but also the system and video processor, as well as available memory; even so, the game looked very nice. I did notice some fracturing at surface and texture joints from time to time though. Unleashed definitely pushes the capabilities of the PSP, and I don't think a better visual offering can be made with the current system's technology.

In fact, it pushes them a little too far at times. During some fight scenes, the game will freeze momentarily as the system tries to catch up with everything going on, and load times can get a bit long. Sadly, there are also some issues with how the camera follows the player, and there's no way to manually control the camera angle.

Gamespot has a video with TFU producer Dan Wasson, who provides a short walkthrough of one level on the PSP. There aren't really any spoilers here, but you do get to see the game in action on the PSP.

The game uses an environment that will likely be familiar to most players; that of a third-person perspective in an essentially linear adventure. Players of Renegade Squadron, God of War, and Prince of Persia will be right at home in Unleashed. It also utilizes the QTEs, or Quick Time Events, also found in those games.

For the unfamiliar, QTEs are generally used in the demise of Boss opponents when their health gets to the point of death; button icons are flashed on the screen and the player has to punch them correctly in order to finish off the enemy. It's usually accompanied by a short cutscene to visually illustrate finishing off the Boss.

I found the game's controls to be ergonomic and easy to remember; but the buttons weren't always as responsive as I would have liked. There isn't any shooting to speak of, so aiming isn't really much of an issue. However, there are Force powers that equate to a ranged attack, and in that respect the aiming wasn't always a hundred percent on. Most of those attacks deal an area of effect damage though, so like with grenades, close is usually good enough.

The audio was pretty good; excellent sound effects, original background music, and voice-overs with passable impressions. Some of the voice-overs were done with audio straight out of the movies; unfortunately it's painfully obvious.