The concept behind Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is undeniably great. You're granted a host of extremely powerful Force abilities and set free to use them to your heart's content, wreaking beautiful, Force-fueled havoc in a galaxy far, far away. But that concept is compromised on the DS; you'll notice the game's limitations more than its freedoms.
The storytelling in The Force Unleashed is lackluster, with not a word of voice acting and only occasional use of cutscenes. All of the dialogue is conveyed through the use of character portraits and text. But even told in this uninspired fashion, the game's story is quite gripping. After the introductory level in which you play as Darth Vader himself, you'll take control of his secret apprentice, code-named Starkiller, traveling the galaxy and slaughtering Jedi at Vader's behest. But before all is said and done, the tale takes some dramatic turns. To say too much about it would be to ruin the surprises it has in store, so suffice it to say that the apprentice's journey is a compelling one, both on a personal and canonical level.
All of the action in The Force Unleashed takes place on the top screen of the DS, while the touch screen has "buttons" for your six basic actions: jump, saber attack, saber throw, Force grip, Force push, and Force lightning. You move your character using the control pad (or the face buttons, for southpaws) and trigger your actions using the touch screen. It's an effective, easy control scheme that makes using your Force powers a snap. Unfortunately, some powers are barely worth using, since others are so overpowered. Even powered up to maximum strength, saber throw feels quite weak, while your Force push is strong enough to get you past nearly everything the game throws at you.
Level design is a bit uneven. The game starts strong, with a full-scale Imperial invasion of the Wookiee homeworld of Kashyyyk. Here, AT-ATs menacingly march on Wookiee villages, and TIE fighters swoop in to blast your enemies to smithereens. The game ends strong, too, with a final level that makes inspired use of what may be the most famous Star Wars location of all. But in between, despite their wildly varying appearances, there are a lot of similarities shared by most of the game's levels. Whether on Felucia, teeming with life, or on the junk world of Raxus Prime, the levels fall into a pattern of narrow, enemy-filled corridors punctuated by occasional wide, enemy-filled spaces. It all starts to feel quite humdrum before too long.
The Force Unleashed is a very easy game. Even before leveling up any of your abilities, you're so powerful that you can cut through the opposition like a hot knife through butter. Even the powerful Jedi bosses pose little threat until the game's final battle; you can make short work of most of them by doing nothing more than repeatedly swinging your saber. As you progress, you'll unlock Force combos, which are performed by dragging the stylus across two or more icons. Dragging the stylus from Force grip to saber attack, for instance, pulls an enemy toward you and impales him on your saber. It's a good idea, and many of these combos are fun to use for their sadistic charm, but they don't serve much practical use. You can easily get through the game without relying on them much at all.