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Disappointing release for ‘Unleashed’

When the words “Star Wars” and “midnight release” combine, one might expect hordes of people decked out in Jedi robes or toting lightsabers, but the crowd outside GameStop an hour before the release of the hyped video game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was surprisingly in the single digits.

I have been to a number of midnight events: three Harry Potter book releases, two Pirates of the Caribbean movie premieres and, more recently, the premiere of The Dark Knight. I love going to the events — even when I am not a big fan of the subject — just because the excited atmosphere surrounding the hardcore fans is contagious.

So, I was extremely interested in attending my first midnight release of a video game, plus I have loved Star Wars since I was 9 years old.

At all the midnight events I’ve been to there are those brave or crazy few who dress up like their favorite characters and the store or theater provides silly games or activities during the wait.

I had expected Ewoks and Darth Vaders or at least someone with a cloak and a toy lightsaber in the queue. However, when I arrived at GameStop on Fowler Avenue at 11 p.m. I was met by only a handful of people — none of them dressed up — sitting around waiting for the store to open.

It was quiet — too quiet for a midnight release. For the release of the XBox 360’s Halo 3 there were launch parties all around the country, according to

The lack of fans surprised many who were there, as LucasArts and its fans have built up Unleashed for the past few years.

“I think it’s been hyped because they are using technology never used before,” said Scott Griffin, a sophomore majoring in English. “Plus, it’s Star Wars.”

LucasArts started working on the game in summer 2004, according to the company’s Web site. Part of the reason it took so long was because they wanted to make it available on nearly all platforms, including the PlayStation 2 and 3, Wii and XBox 360.

The graphics were another reason.

“(It) aims to convince players that, ‘Oh my God, I’m actually, finally, in a Star Wars movie,'” said Matt Omernick, Unleashed’s art director, to Vanity Fair.

Scott Draft, a junior majoring in art, wasn’t impressed by the demo.

“The graphics weren’t mind blowing, but OK,” he said.

Maybe the unimpressive demo was the reason behind the lack of fans waiting for the game, or maybe it was the Florida humidity.

The hour-long wait took forever not because of anticipation, but because of the heat. About 10 minutes after midnight, I walked out with my game as well as the complimentary stormtrooper figurine.

I didn’t rush to my Wii to play the game after going home, however, unlike when I got the last Harry Potter book and stayed up the entire night reading it.

The video game didn’t come out of its plastic till the next day.