Entertainment

‘Star Wars' game turns to the Dark Side

Star Wars: Force Unleashed

LucasArts for 360, Wii

**1/2

I was a little worried when I sat down to play the latest entry in the “Star Wars” series. I'd gotten about a dozen e-mails from readers, who pretty much all said the same thing: “Force Unleashed” – a third-person action game that introduces you to Darth Vader's dark apprentice, Starkiller – is too short and too slow.

But while I did find the game's 12 levels to be short, I never felt it was too slow.

After you go through a tutorial and start out as Darth Vader, you take control of the main character and get to use all of the Dark Side of the Force.

Designers strived for realism and differentiation in this game, and they were mostly successful. Wood breaks like wood. Glass shatters convincingly. The interactive characters behave randomly. I re-played a few sections in exactly the same manner as I did the first time, and characters reacted in different ways.

I had fun with certain powers of Starkiller's (tossing lightning bolts being my favorite), but he's almost too Superman-like. He was throwing folks through walls and nearly sucking the life out of ships or planets.

Once you learn a few combinations, defeating enemies may be a bit too easy for most gamers, at least in early levels. On the other hand, the interface for targeting objects or enemies could be easier; you have to aim using the camera. That's not much of a problem when you're facing one enemy, but as the game progresses, you'll eventually find yourself facing dozens of enemies at once. That's when the lack of a good targeting system really starts to hurt.

As for the differences in versions, using the Wii-mote as a light saber on Nintendo's system was fun, while the tone and look seemed a little more serious on the 360.

In sum, this “Star Wars” game is grand in scope and vision, but the little things need more tweaking.

Drawn to Life: SpongeBob SquarePants Edition

THQ for Nintendo DS

As in the original “Drawn to Life,” the appeal in this game is that players can create everything from environments to characters to accessories that eventually become playable. It's almost like a video coloring book, in which you use the DS stylus as your pen. In this case, the various elements you color become part of the story, which involves the lead characters – Bob and Patrick – and their search for a magic pencil. In their way is an evil character with his own pencil who is tearing up Bikini Bottom. Your mission is to clean up evil DoodleBob's mess and defeat his self-drawn army.

It's decent fun for youngsters, although I think they'll enjoy the drawing more than the game-playing.

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