I can't be the only person who has wasted many an hour wondering just how the Force would work in reality. No, I've not started believing that Star Wars is in any way real, but if there actually was a 'Force' that some of us could control, just how would we go about doing it?
The Force Unleashed's mobile adventure answers that question – or, at least, offers up a suggestion. Controlling the Force here involves mapping out shapes using the number keys on your phone's keypad, essentially translating how Darth, Yoda, Obi-Wan and co might go about focusing their minds on particular tasks to make the most of the Force that surrounds them. It's also a handy way of avoiding over-stretching the game's format, dodging any crass attempts to cram in an epic action-adventure title into the wee device that sits in your pocket most of the time.
It's a comfortable compromise, then, and for the most part it's also a very successful one. As in all the numerous Star Wars: The Force Unleashed releases doing the rounds at the moment, you play as Darth Vadar's secret apprentice 'Starkiller', aka Galen Merek. Vadar has his eyes on using you to overthrow the Emperor so that both of you can rule the galaxy together. However, as is usually the case, things don't go entirely to plan, and your secret existence sees you rubbing shoulders with the likes of Princess Leia, Wookies, and scores of other icons of Star Wars of old in the process.
This truly is a game made for the fans, and adds an entirely new and absorbing chapter that sits neatly between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. As is often the case with Star Wars titles, it's the quality of this story that will draw in most players, but thankfully the game itself has a fair bit to offer, too.
Namely its simplicity. Activating the force is a matter of drawing shapes on your keypad. All of your combatants have shapes or lines hovering over their heads. Dealing with them requires you to recreate those symbols on your keypad; for example, drawing a straight vertical line is just a case of tapping the '2' key followed by the '8' key, with the '0' key used to confirm your selection.
It is, in truth, like dot-to-dot for adults, though of course the symbols grow in complexity as play moves on. There are also various different actions you can perform to rid yourself of more than one enemy at a time; as your competence with the force builds, more abilities – such as lifting your rivals in the air, or throwing objects at them – become available, and activating entails recreating shapes above your own head, and then the new shapes that appear above your foes' collective heads.
Sound complicated? In practice it couldn't be simpler. Complexity has no place in The Force Unleashed's gameplay; you simply stand in the centre while various enemies trundle towards you, hammering away at the keys to rid yourself of said threats. Every action, from freeing prisoners to making use of power-ups, is linked to a shape or symbol, and success relies on your ability to map them out at speed, deciphering how they relate to your keys and deciding whether you have the time to activate other elements of the Force or need to focus on each enemy individually.
As a result, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is not the most sophisticated title out there, and some might be disappointed that it doesn't offer the action-packed play that its name suggests it might, but it's solid throughout and will pull in just as many fans as it repels, sending some scurrying while hoisting others up onto cloud nine – which is probably a fitting tribute for a game focused on the bipolar phenomenon of the Force.