Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Nintendo Switch review: A poort choice

by Ben Kirby
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Hot off my previous Star Wars review, I’ve been given the opportunity to play through Star Wars: The Force Unleashed on Nintendo Switch!

I’ll be honest, it’s an odd choice for a Switch port. Released in 2008 to good reviews critical response, Force Unleashed has certainly been popular, but I don’t know that there was high demand for it?

Odder still is the version that’s been ported…..for some reason the developer chose the Wii port to bring over to the Nintendo Switch. Despite being more than capable of running the Xbox 360 or PS3 version and the additional DLC. This must be due to the Wii-mote stuff in that version, but it seems like a poor choice to me.

Starkiller

I never finished Force Unleashed back when it came out, and always regretted that because of how well-liked it seemed to be. So now, I’m able to get to grips with the (now, officially non-canon) story of Darth Vader’s secret apprentice.

Hunting Jedi, getting stronger and leaving no trace behind. I can finally play with my dark-side urges unleashed! Being a powerful, vengeful force user is cool and I don’t care how old the game is Force Unleashed holds up for that power fantasy. I’ve spent about 8 hours getting stronger, force-choking, pushing, lightning and just generally wrecking the place.

Even if the aged aesthetic and gameplay aren’t working for you, the power of the dark side is surely still quite alluring…

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed lightsaber battle

Runs great

The Nintendo Switch is an ageing platform as some would have you believe. But, much like Yoda, it’s tiny-but-mighty. The power of the Switch outmatches that of the original power required for The Force Unleashed.

Porting the Wii version (lesser version?) to the Switch means there’s clearly plenty of horsepower to run the game. In handheld mode it’s a dream, consistent frame rate, never slowing or dipping when the action picks up. It all just works smoothly.

The game itself is a port, not a remake. So whilst it runs great, some of the buttons, and some of the gameplay mechanics feel a bit wonky. That’s because of the age of The Force Unleashed, though. This isn’t the fault of the port or the console, rather the game and design decisions that the world has largely moved on from, now.

I will say that force choking someone in mid-air, then sending your lightsaber to them to stab them for a kill, is never dull. I over-used that move on mobs, sometimes unwisely, but damn, that’s some real fun.

The Force Unleashed knows what it is, and it delivers that in spades. Particularly here on the Switch where it’s unencumbered by older hardware.

Darth Vader Force Unleashed

Looks ok

Running smoothly is one thing you expect of a port for a game as old as The Force Unleashed. You kind of expect it to look a ton better too.

It looks fine, absolutely serviceable. Borderline good at some points. Lighting has been sometimes impressive. However, the assets used for explosions and smoke are clearly not modern takes on particle generation. The models and environments have those HD resolutions applied and they do look good. But applying HD textured to lower-polygon models means you’re sometimes kind of painting over the cracks.

You have to remember that this isn’t a drawback of the Switch per se. This is the fact that developer Aspyr has faithfully ported the game and upped the textures and resolution. They haven’t re-built The Force Unleashed.

Let go of your high-resolution expectations, be pleased it runs smoothly and looks more than serviceable to give you the game on the go. Playing The Force Unleashed on Switch is solid and having it with me wherever I go is a bonus.

Force Unleashed Starkiller Ship

Sounds great

Let’s be honest, Star Wars games come with one specific expectation that pretty much must be met. Iconic audio.

Thankfully The Force Unleashed is no slouch here. Themes, blaster fire, lightsabers, ships. You name it, everything is here, licenced, clear as a bell and ready to help immerse you into the world of the force. Honestly, it’s one of my favourite things about Star Wars games, especially when I have my headphones in. Pick up those iconic sounds of a universe I adore.

You’re not getting let down here. I can only assume that the port saw some high-resolution audio upgrades too, with improved drivers for the Nintendo Switch, because it doesn’t sound dated, in fact, it sounds great.

The audio design and implementation of the sound effects and the spatial/directional elements work pretty well, too.

The Force Unleashed sounds lovely. Simple.

Overall thoughts on The Force Unleashed port?

I’d be lying if I said that Force Unleashed didn’t show its age. Better resolutions and faithful porting are great. But gameplay decisions from 14 years ago don’t always translate well in the present.

Quick time events are heavily used here, the environments are aged, too. Combat feels like it comes from a time since left behind, too.

That isn’t to say this is a bad port. In fact, it’s faithful to the original and runs really nicely. Plus having an 8 — 10 hour action-adventure game with you when playing portable mode, is a joy.

Force Unleashed on Switch is exactly that. Force Unleashed on Switch. This isn’t a significant remake, so as long as you manage your expectations a little, there’s a lot of good to be taken away from it.

It’s £17.99 on the eShop, and if you’re a long-time fan, then you’ll be happy and it’s not a full-price game. But just remember it is a port of a game that came out nearly 15 years ago.

Aspyr has done a good job, and I’m very keen to see how they do the actual remake of Knights of the Old Republic!


You can purchase Star Wars: The Force Unleashed right now on Nintendo Switch. And don’t forget to check out more of our game reviews by clicking HERE.

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