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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed

Who wants to be a Sith Lord? Get in line

It is a time of peace - the first concrete details of The Force Unleashed are here and things are looking good.

You're cast as 'the Apprentice', the secret understudy of Darth Vader, who is being used by the evil one to carry out super-important and secret missions in the period between Episodes III and IV.

For unknown reasons Vader wants your existence kept hidden from the Emperor, and so Stormtroopers are as much your foe as the dastardly Rebels.

The worry with The Force Unleashed was always that, in comparison to the power-guzzling engines and visuals of the PS3 and 360 versions, the Wii will receive a basic port that isn't worthy of its superior powers.

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We spoke to Ed Tucker of developers Krome Studios about the differences between the versions and he was only too happy to set us straight.

"The likes of Euphoria and DMM [the fancy engine technologies] are groundbreaking and we couldn't copy them.

"What we did was try to look at the concept and idea behind it and get as close as we could. The ragdolls in the Wii version are robust, they look really good."

The laws of physics

The reason Tucker is talking about ragdolls is that you spend a huge amount of time in this game throwing inferior organisms around.

By the later levels, in fact, you'll be casually crushing all resistance (as well as the environment) in front of you - and Krome are particularly proud of the smashy-smashy nature of the levels.

"We've got the essence of it: the physics are great, from something heavy being harder to pick up and throw to putting as many breakables in as possible," says Tucker.

"There are times when you blow through a door, it blows apart and then there's glass behind it and the power of the blast shatters it. It's definitely one of the best physics engines on this technology."

Saber the light fantastic

As for controlling all of this destruction, the lightsaber isn't mapped exactly to the remote, but on the plus side the remote and nunchuk act as your in-game right and left hand, respectively controlling the lightsaber and force powers.

There are five lightsaber movements with the remote: right to left, left to right, downswing, uppercut and stab. They respond extremely well, not to mention accurately, and getting your timing right results in some spectacular saber combos.

All of the force powers (with the exception of throwing the lightsaber) are controlled with nunchuk movements - the force push, for example, is triggered by thrusting it forward - while holding buttons switches to lightning and grab attacks.

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The powers also upgrade, and can be combined for a variety of attacks. Special mention also has to go to the DS controls, where icons on the touch screen represent your powers and actions: you tap to activate them, but drag them together for 14 different combos.

In terms of content, the DS version follows the PS3/360 versions fairly closely, but the Wii version seems to have an upper hand.

"On the Wii we have places where the story veers off and we go and explore something, take the game in a different direction, like the Jedi Temple level. There are five levels that aren't in the PS3 and 360 versions," says Tucker.

There's more. The Wii version has an exclusive Jedi Duel mode, in which you can choose from a number of series characters and go one-on-one with a friend.

Our hands-on with it was limited to Luke Skywalker against the Apprentice, but questions about the appearance of Obi-Wan and Vader were met with the "no comment" that means "yes".

Unfortunately there are no plans for Wi-Fi, which means your Jedi duels will have to remain confined to the front room. Ah well.

The Force Unleashed could have been a simple port - instead, it looks like it could be an excellent action game that really uses the console.

Most importantly, it's delivering on a great concept: you're the most powerful Jedi in the universe, and if you look at things they go flying. Who's not excited by that?

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