When deciding which version of "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed" to pick up, ask yourself a question: do I want extreme visual fidelity or a personal engagement by executing Force powers with gestural motion controls?
There's nothing quite like pushing the Wii nunchuck forward in the air to execute a Force Push and watching Luke Skywalker fly across the screen. That's exactly the kind of experience Krome Studios and LucasArts are bringing to the Wii version of "The Force Unleashed."
No, it doesn't have the same level of "wow" visuals, but "The Force Unleashed" quickly becomes immersive in a way that's worth paying attention to.
The available kiosk at Nintendo's Media Summit last Thursday and Friday gave me a chance to go to-to-toe with another human player in the versus multiplayer mode. This mode will not be found in any other version of "The Force Unleashed." The PSP version will have a type of multiplayer, but not head-to-head combat.
"The Force Unleashed'"s multiplayer is good fun, specifically because of the Wii's controls. "The Force Unleashed"'s combat isn't nearly as deeply thought out as Darth Vader and Yoda's move-sets in "Soul Calibur IV," but that's not the point here. You're meant to experience the visceral (and sometimes random) nature of the Force through motion controls.
My opponent was a member of LucasArts' PR team, so I was at a bit of a disadvantage. I tried to psych them out by picking the intimidating Darth Maul, but he countered with the equally scary Darth Vader. The match quickly swung my way, however, as I made liberal use of Force Push to knock Vader around the screen. There's no button pressing involved when executing Force Pull, which is exactly why it's so immersive on a different level. Eventually, though, his familiarity with the controls allowed him to stomp me with repeated metal beams and space debris thrown at my head.
There might be something to be said about playing both the "next-generation" versions and the one Krome is producing for Wii, though. Although the main storyline is the same across both versions, the Wii can't handle some of the insane physics and set pieces happening in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, so the levels have been altered accordingly. If only there was a way to combine cutting-edge graphics and Wii-style motion controls…
I know what you're wondering: If the Wii version can't handle some of the advanced effects designed for "The Force Unleashed," does that mean you can't pull down a Star Destroyer in the Wii version?
Readers, I have failed you. I'll see about finding an answer to that.
At one point, we did see a single player level being shown off but didn't have time to check it out. The level showcased the main character, Vader's ultra-powerful apprentice, slicing an AT-AT to pieces. Spectacular combos were accomplished by mimicking the various motion controls shown on screen.
LucasArts promised hands-on time with the single-players aspects of "The Force Unleashed" on Wii, Xbox 360 and PS3 in the coming months. Stay tuned.