Monday, June 28, 2010

The Force Unleashed, Part Deux

You know, I'm all about giving things a second chance—especially when it comes to Star Wars. But I just can't bring myself to get excited (or even non-disgusted) about the upcoming release of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2. I have previously vented my bile upon this budding franchise, so I won't delve too deeply into it again. I'd really like to give it a second chance, but there are just so many strikes against it that I am actually dreading its release. Why? Well, let me list the reasons:

1) Story. As horribly disruptive and downright hamfisted as the first game was to the established canon of the movies, this one seems to be even moreso. In fact, its looking like it is even going to be running roughshod over its OWN previously established canon (, if the Rebel Alliance's symbol was adopted in honor of the Jedi who gave his life to help the birth of the Rebellion, what happens when we find out he isn't really dead. He's just kindof been cloned, but has some of the same memories...).

2) Insanity. Okay, so... Vader tried to use the protagonist (Starkiller) as a pawn, but found him too difficult to control. So... this time, Vader's plan is to... use Starkiller as a pawn, only he (surprise surprise) finds him too difficult to control! SHOCKER! I mean seriously. WTF. Definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. After having both been destroyed by Starkiller, I'm thinking neither Vader nor the Emperor would take the chance on repeating that mistake.

3) "The Dark Chapter". I guess its a supposed to be a nod to the darker tone of Empire Strikes back, but this game is supposed to be the 'dark' chapter in what is shaping up to be a trilogy of video games. Because yeah, the first game was so 'bright and cheery'. Lets see.. the protagonist's family is killed, he's raised by a horribly abusive father figure (Vader) who is just using him to further his own ends. He slaughters a bunch of people who are essentially the good guys—including a couple Jedi. Hell, he even slaughters a bunch of (relatively) innocent jawas and rodians, not to mention a host of other aliens who are just trying to defend their world from the Empire. And in the end, he finds out that his entire life has been a lie and he is ultimately betrayed and killed by the Emperor. Yeah. THAT was the 'happy first chapter!', but this one is going to be all 'dark and broody'. Not much lower they could go, unless he starts eating babies or clubbing seals.

4) Epic Fights. The developers said they're working on making the boss fights more epic. For god sakes, in the first game you battle Darth Vader and the Emperor back to back—and defeat them BOTH. How much more EPIC can boss fights be?! Oh, I know.. this time you can fight a dozen darth vaders and emperors!

5) Ripping the guts out of the original trilogy, yet again. As I've said before, by having a 'hero' as overwhelmingly powerful as Starkiller, you totally take the emphasis off Luke's 'heroes journey' to redeem his father, which is central to the Star Wars saga as a whole. I mean, its like having a story about Robin Hood, then having some other guy (Bobin Hoodkiller) come in and totally kick the crap out of Prince John and the Sheriff without breaking a sweat. I am a firm believer that Star Wars is big enough for a LOT of different stories, but god damnit, find your own, Starkiller. Get your own antagonist and quick F**king with someone else's destiny.

Whew. So, yeah. It happened again. For some reason, just talking about this game ticks me off. The only way I'm going to buy it is if it gets the best ratings of any video game ever made. And even then, I'll probably be skeptical.


  1. Honestly, the whole idea for the story in The Force Unleashed was stupid in my opinion (and I agree with all your points). Yes, the area between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope are not defined and such, except they kind of are. We know what happens, because we know the beginning (Revenge of the Sith) and we know the end (A New Hope). This means that any story you put into the time frame between it is so chained by the status quo that you really can't do anything.

    Even with that, there is the option for some cool stories, provided you stay away from the big boys (Vader, Empire, Leia, Han, etc). A story about Vader's apprentice helping hunt down some of the jedi, with a contained story surrounding that particular aspect could be cool. But turning it around into a fight with Vader is going to be a rip as either you 1) let the player beat Vader, at which point you take away a LOT of Vader's 'power' we are supposed to believe he has in the Original Trilogy or 2) Rob the player of a victory by having Vader beat them stupid at the end of the game.

    Now, 2 can be done. It really can be, but it is very hard to pull off right and is going to leave people with a bit of a sour taste either way.

    The real problem I had with the Forced Unleash (story can be forgiven, Lucas was involved and Star Wars can fix a lot by namesake alone) was the controls. There is simply no excuse for controls that rough shod and sloppy in this day and age, especially not on what is supposed to be an A list title. But the controls and game play were so horrible that I just couldn't enjoy even the bits I did like. How the hell do you make ripping a Star Destroyer out of the sky not only not fun, but frustrating and boring? The controls for the game though (and the gameplay in general) was just unforgivable.

    As far as epic boss battles, fixing the gameplay and actually delivering on the promises made with the first game (I never once felt unleashed in TFU, the force felt scripted, and in fact quite weak in a lot of places) and you will have a decent game with more epic battles just by default. Story wise though...if you up Vader and the Emperor you need to realize you are knifing the original trilogy in the back with every step taken.

  2. YES! All you really need to do is steer clear of the 'main characters' of the story and you have a lot of freedom. As an example, I keep going back to the Han Solo novels, which take place in the time period between trilogies. They work because they were self contained— they had their own characters and plots that weren't connected (at least not directly) to the 'metaplot' of the movies.

    The problem is, that would require coming up with an original story and not relying on throwing a bunch of 'big names' out there for the "oooh" factor. I think maybe people are afraid that if you don't have all the 'names' from the movies, people won't like the game, or won't relate it to Star Wars. But you have to look no further than Knights of the Old Republic to see that isn't true. Yes, folks identify with the characters from the movies, but the Saga itself is bigger than that, its become a genre. As long as you have Jedi and Sith and Space ships and Wookiees its going to feel like Star Wars. And as long as you have a compelling story, you don't need to trot out the 'big stars'. But that's the problem, TFU had a weak story to begin with.

    As far as the controls go, I couldn't agree more. I started off the game actually feeling pretty good about them. Being able to throw people and things around was awesome. But the further into the game you got, the more things were just 'immune' to your power, so you had to rely on hack and slash to batter your way through.

    Don't even get me started on the stupid Star Destroyer scene. I literally had to turn off the console and take a break to cool down. I was, at that point, playing just to get through the game, not for fun. And that is about as big of a design flaw as you can have.