I’m not one to pre-order video games, but I made an exception for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom — for a variety of reasons. But, instead of actually playing it this weekend, I’m going to be partaking in some Star Wars-themed nostalgia by playing The Force Unleashed.
Welcome! This column is part of a series in which members of the Tom's Guide staff share what they're playing and enjoying right now, with the goal of helping you find great games that you may have missed. Be sure to check out our previous entry, where we talk about another classic Star Wars game, Knights of the Old Republic.
Now you probably think I’m mad. Tears of the Kingdom is arguably the most anticipated game of the year, and a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild — the one Zelda game I actually finished. So why wouldn’t I be diving straight back into Hyrule in favor of a cheesy over-the-top Xbox 360 game? Well, I promised my girlfriend I wouldn’t.
My girlfriend is a much, much bigger Zelda fan than I am. To the point where one of her highlights of our recent vacation was wandering into Gamestop and finding a Korok cushion on the shelf. Needless to say she’s pretty desperate to play (or at a push watch me play) Tears of the Kingdom, but unfortunately its releases clashes with her other mini-obsession: The Eurovision Song Contest.
So I promised I wouldn’t play Tears of the Kingdom until we could play it together, which is why I needed something new to play this weekend. Jedi Survivor was an option, but there was no guarantee I’d be able to finish it quickly — and the prospect of paying $70 for a game I may not finish for some time didn’t appeal.
I have no such qualms about The Force Unleashed, a game I’ve been meaning to replay since I finished Jedi Fallen Order a couple of years back. I played the game around the time it was first released in 2008, and already know the ins-and-outs of the game. So if I don’t get to finish it over the weekend, it won’t be the end of the world.
I wouldn’t call The Force Unleashed an amazing game, and the levels can get rather repetitive. But it is a pretty fun hack & slash game that puts you in the role of a seriously-overpowered force user. A force user that can literally pull a Star Destroyer out of orbit with his bare hands.
It’s as ridiculous as it sounds, and that sequence is still pretty controversial among some segments of the Star Wars fandom. But the ridiculousness is part of what makes The Force Unleashed so fun. But that’s only part of it, because The Force Unleashed also lets you play in a variety of different costumes or as various characters from the Star Wars canon.
2008 was a different time in gaming, but not that different, so a bunch of these characters are only available in paid-for DLC packs. Two packs costing $5 a piece, even though this game had nothing to do with EA. But $5 is a small price to pay to be able to run around murdering stormtroopers dressed as C-3PO.
I’m not even kidding, that is something you can do in The Force Unleashed — and without having to mod the game.
Not to mention the fact that the game also features cheat codes, something that has all but disappeared from modern gaming, and a black lightsaber crystal. In fact, this is the game I blame for my love affair with the black lightsaber, which has only continued thanks to the Darksabers’ appearances in various Star Wars TV shows. It may be hard to unlock, but that’s where the cheat codes come into play.
And maybe this time I'll finally get round to playing The Force Unleashed 2 in the near future. I've had the game for years, I think due to an old Games With Gold promotion, but never actually played it. And as my colleague Rory Mellon found with Knights of the Old Republic, it's never too late to give an old-school Star Wars game some attention.
Is it good? Apparently not, but it's probably time I give the game a go. Especially since the landscape of Star Wars games is looking pretty bleak in the near future.
Needless to say it's going to have to wait until Tears of the Kingdom is over, because I don't plan on waiting any longer than I have to.