Review – Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (Switch)

Be careful what you wish for. I was really looking forward to what was going to be Aspyr’s next Star Wars-related release on the Switch, and was craving for the announcement of a remaster to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, one of the most iconic games in the franchise in my opinion. Flawed, sure, but one which featured one of my favorite stories in the entire old Expanded Universe canon. I eventually got what I asked for when Aspyr announced a remaster of said game exclusively for the Switch, or so I thought. It’s a clear case of the monkey’s paw playing tricks with me. It was indeed a remaster of The Force Unleashed for the Switch, but they were planning on remastering the Wii version of said game.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

A shocking revelation.

I did not play the Wii version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed back in the day. Just like almost everyone out there, I played the Xbox 360 / PS3 version of it, the one which featured sick visuals, a crapton of destructible objects and environments, and some of the coolest setpieces in any Star Wars game to date. To be fair, I never stopped to pay attention at the differences between those SKUs and the Wii/PS2/PSP ports of the game. I have always thought they were all the same title, with differences in visuals and performance. Boy, I was wrong. The Wii version of that game (and consequently, its Switch port) was vastly different, and not in a good way.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Story

Worst. Adoptive. Dad. Ever.

Let me clarify that I will be talking about both the Wii and Switch ports of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed in tandem because, for all intents and purposes, they are the same game. The difference being the improved framerate (60fps is indeed nice) and resolution. With that being said, dear goodness this is an ugly game. Look, the Wii was underpowered, but this game looks worse than most games from the PS2 era. In fact, the lack in textural detail and poor facial animations reminded me more of a PSP game than anything else. The version of The Force Unleashed I remember was actually quite a looker, with large environments and a ton of detail. This one is the opposite: most levels are comprised of dull corridors, with not a lot in terms of props and decor.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Kota

You can (and will) defeat him by simply mashing the Y button until your finger falls off.

The main draw of the Wii version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was the usage of motion controls, and they are still present in this Switch remaster. They… aren’t that special. In no moment did they feel like a good compromise for the utter lack of visual spectacle and pzazz when compared to other SKUs. Skyward Sword, this is not. The combat is a lot more simplified in the Wii/Switch version of the game, with less combos, less room for creative killing methods, and an underwhelming camera system. Thank goodness for the inclusion of a lock-on feature. Although you still have access to special attacks like Force Lightning and Push, most combat sections were easily beatable by simply mashing the Y button like there was no tomorrow. Enemy AI? Never heard of it.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed AT-ST

It would have been a scary fight if it wasn’t for the braindead enemy AI. Damn thing didn’t try to shoot me once.

Is there any silver lining in this particular port? Being a Star Wars game, you know there is something that will never feel undercooked in here, and that’s the sound design. The soundtrack is your standard (epic, excellent, fantastic, timeless) Star Wars fare, and while this particular version features a lot less voicework than the 360 and PS3 ports of The Force Unleashed, a good chunk of that excellent voice acting is still present in this port. Sure, I do understand that a lot of people didn’t exactly like Sam Witwer’s portrayal as the edgelord Mary Sue known as Starkiller, but I wasn’t one of them. Still one of my favorite characters in the old Star Wars EU lore.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed Jedi Temple

Guys, if you see a guy wielding a laser-deflecting lightsaber, you should flee. Your blasters ain’t gonna miraculously kill him.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is an underrated classic, and it’s a must-have for Star Wars fans. I am obviously talking about the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions, the latter being easily available and playable on the Xbox One and Xbox Series S/X as well. The fact the Switch version is a remaster of the massively inferior Wii version, by itself, is a huge disappointment. You’re getting less interesting visuals, worse controls, and shorter levels. Why was that version chosen to be the basis of the remaster? The Switch is underpowered, but it can handle an Xbox 360 game with ease. The motion controls aren’t even that interesting in this case. It saddens me to say this, but the Switch version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed isn’t the blast from the past you’re looking for.

Graphics: 5.0

It runs at a smooth 60fps, but this is an ugly game, even for the Wii’s standards. Hell, it’s not much of a looker even for the PS2.

Gameplay: 6.5

A much more limited take on the God of War-esque gameplay loop from the versions of The Force Unleashed people actually remember and care about. The smooth framerate is good, but the physics and camera controls aren’t. The motion gimmicks aren’t worth your time, either.

Sound: 8.5

The voice acting is good, albeit more limited when compared to the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions of the game. The soundtrack… well, it’s Star Wars. It’s great, as to be expected.

Fun Factor: 6.0

The Force Unleashed is a classic, but not the version this particular remaster was based on. You can’t help but feel you could (and should) be playing the much superior PS3/360 version on the Switch, as the motion control gimmicks aren’t a good compromise.

Final Verdict: 6.0

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is available now on PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox 360, PC, Wii, and Switch. Most versions are widely different from one another in terms of visuals and content.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was provided by the publisher.