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Joystiq hands-on: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PS2/PSP)

Zack Stern

The PS2 and PSP versions of The Force Unleashed are close siblings, and I recently enjoyed playing nearly-finished editions of both. Each follows the same bounty-hunting apprentice story and settings as the 360/PS3 game, although specific level design occasionally differs. Unlike 360/PS3 game, the PSP version gets two-player duel-mode fights against a local gamer, and it also includes five "historical missions" pulled from the movies. The PS2 version includes the full camera control of the 360/PS3, but not those extras.

The PS2 and PSP games felt slightly scaled back from the 360/PS3, with fewer destructible objects or enemies in any one moment. But both maintained a fluid sense of battle, maintaining the visceral thrill of the Force powers. With the game's September 16 release, PS2 and PSP gamers will find a kinetic action title suited to their systems.

Gallery: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PS2) | 5 Photos

Unlike the DS version, the PS2 and PSP games include lots of objects and enemies to destroy. I constantly had crates, barrels, wall panels, and other set dressings to lob at my foes, or slice up with my 'saber. In one of the small differences between these two versions, I had a better sense of my surroundings with the PS2, since the right analog stick nudged the camera. But the PSP game still moved smoothly, and the automatic camera tracked from behind my character, usually providing an effective view of what I needed. In both versions, I felt in control of my aim, throwing the light saber at enemies, or launching other attacks from a distance.

PSP extras, such as the historical missions, make that edition a good package. Those scenarios are lifted from climactic movie moments. As Vader, I fought Luke in the scene from The Empire Strikes Back, and as Luke, I clobbered henchmen over Jabba's sarlacc pit from Return of the Jedi. Five total scenes are included. And like the DS and Wii, the PSP also adds a duel mode between two local players. (I wasn't able to try this option.)

Gallery: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PSP) | 6 Photos

The PS2's user-controlable camera makes that game slightly more easy to steer than the PSP version. I panned my view as I rounded corners, to see what was coming up. But the automatic camera controls usually pointed where I looked.

While they felt scaled slightly back from the 360/PS3 version, the PS2/PSP editions of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed still packed destructive action. Force fans on those systems will get a complete-feeling game without having to upgrade to a stronger console. The title releases on September 16.

Check out our newly-unleashd Star Wars: The Force Unleashed hands-on impressions for Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS and PlayStation 2/PSP.

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