The Ultimate Sith Edition of The Force Unleashed has arrived and I got a chance to check out the Xbox 360 Collector's Edition of the game. Featuring the previously downloadable Jedi Temple level and character skins, this Ultimate Sith Edition also provides an alternate timeline that imagines how things could have played out if Starkiller had defeated Darth Vader once and for all. This reimagining comes in the form of two additional levels, Tatooine and Hoth. In this review, I'll take a look at the three new levels individually and will then sum up my thoughts on the content in general. For those who try to avoid spoilers, I will keep this as spoiler free as possible but won't be able to help naming some previously mentioned characters and plot points. I'll do my best to avoid revealing any surprises. To be honest, there really aren't that many suprises but just more of what you came to enjoy about TFU the first time around.
The Jedi Temple
This level may have the best beginning to any level of The Force Unleashed as you free fall through the skylanes of Coruscant before doing your thing with Force-powers and hack and slash lightsaber goodness. This particular level falls in the middle of the original TFU storyline and finds Starkiller (the secret apprentice) searching for information on his past through the ruins of the once mighty and beautiful Jedi Temple. There are no shortage of enemies to dispach as you work your way into and through the temple and what made me enjoy this level in particular, was the variety to the enemies. From Jump Troopers, to Shadow Troopers to training droids, you certainly have your hands full and the variety keeps the action from getting stale. In addition, there is a bit more problem solving to be offered in the Jedi Temple. This comes in two major forms but I'll leave it to you to discover the fun within, including a nice boss battle.
Darth Vader has been defeated at the hands of Starkiller who has now taken the Dark Lord's place at the Emperor's right hand man. As the events at the begining of A New Hope transpire, we get to see what might happen if Starkiller personally traveled to Tatooine in order to find two droids who bicker like an old married couple. If slaying Gamorrean guards and feisty Jawas is your thing, then you should be in heaven as you slash your way through Jabba's temple searcing for information. Jabba's pallace looks fantastic and his characterization within the cut scenes simply put a smile on my face. He's true to OT form! It should be no surprise that you get to tangle with Jabba's pet Rancor as we've battled numerous versions of the beast in the original TFU game. (which makes this battle a bit anti-climatic) Not one, not two, but three boss battles pop up throughout the level. Two of which you may have figured out through various released screenshots (just look above), but he third was a bit surprising. The Tatooine level of The Ultimate Sith edition is a fun playthrough but I must admit that the star of the level was Jabba's palace itself. This is perhaps the best looking representation of his lair that we have seen to date, and it's just always fun to re-visit and explore OT locales.
On Hoth, you land with Imperial Troops and fight your way into Echo Base searching for that whiny son of the previous Dark Lord. Much like in the Tatooine level, you have two main enemies to dispatch. This time it's Wampas and Rebels, and there are plenty of them! Things get even more fun as your snowtroopers catch up to your progress and join in the fight. Sure they're fighting on your side, but that's no reason not to Force throw them around the room. The dialogue between Starkiller and his Imperial commanders in space provide some comical moments here and there, though you can't help but miss Juno Eclipse. Again, though dispatching enemies is great, I found myself marveling at the layout and surroundings of Echo Base. You do battles in some familiar areas/rooms that will be sure to get you thinking the next time you watch The Empire Strikes Back. Though you may expect the culimating boss battle of the Hoth level, you may not expect how it plays out in this true to form Ultimate Sith Edition. Though a fun level, this of all three, felt the most repetitive. Some of the areas within Echo base look beautiful and are fun to explore, but some other areas kind of look the same.
General Thoughts and Rating
Make no mistake about it, if you enjoyed playing through the original game of The Force Unleashed, then you should enjoy playing through the new levels. The graphics and gameplay are virtually the same as before. Though I'm sure there are games out there that are a bit more visually stunning, I again attest that we've ever seen Tatooine and Hoth look so good in video game form. As for the sound, play this game with the volume up! I played these additional levels in a dark room, in a recliner with the volume cranked up and it made for a nice cinematic experience. Great sound effects and a fitting score make the Star Wars experience what you want it to be and these new levels will not let your ears down.
As you can see from what I've written thus far, there really aren't many negatives for me to go over in regards to the content itself. It may just be the fanboy in me but I loved TFU the first time around, even with the occasional rough camera angle and sometimes repetative gameplay. The tricky part is really just in price justification. If you have never purchased The Force Unleashed, then you're getting a lot of game for your money considering you not only get the additional levels and previously downloadble-only content, but you're getting the original game as well. If you've already purchased TFU and have spent your well earned Republic credits on the downloadable character skins and the Jedi Temple level, then this may end up being a rental for you. Considering that the Tatooine level should be showing up as downloadable content soon, Hoth is the only true exclusive level to this Ultimate Sith Edition. The packaging of the collector's addition is quite nice with the tin and collector's card but that's hardly what will get you out to the store to purchase the game. (Click on the top pick above for a view of the packaging)
Again, I had a lot of fun with this and look forward to playing through the levels again to see if there are any goodies that I may have missed. As a whole, I'd give The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition a solid 4 out of 5. The game is well worth the price and includes a lot of content, if you haven't already spent enough on the franchise through downloadables.
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CORRECTION: I should note that I accidentally mentioned that the Tatooine DLC will soon be available for download while it has actually been out for a couple months. Not to mention, I posted about it previously which makes me look even worse...and I'm so glad I've now pointed that out as well. Thanks to Josh for the heads up.