Unleashing the Power of the Force | A Critique of Star Wars: Force Unleashed 1 & 2


Giving a Star Wars game a title like The Force
Unleashed is a bold step. You’re making a promise with a title like
that. You’re saying that not only will the player
be able to use the force; they will be able to use it in a way that goes well beyond anything
we’ve seen before. LucasArts set a high bar with the Force Unleashed
title and yet it cleared that bar with ease. The Force Unleashed and its sequel are action
games where the power of the force is literally unleashed, almost without restriction. In fact, it could even have a colon in the
title for extra emphasis: The Force: Unleashed. Back in 2005, LucasArts had this crazy idea
that an action game where you play as a powerful force-wielder should be a power trip and fun
to play, even if that meant turning a blind eye to some minor inconsistencies when it
comes to established canon. Lucas Arts also wanted an impactful story
that did something a little different to Star Wars games that had come before, so it made
the protagonist a powerful dark side force user who would eventually question his upbringing
and kickstart the rebellion. It did this while puffing out Darth Vader’s
story and showing how the infamous Sith Lord was never happy playing second fiddle to the
Emperor even before Luke came along. Again, there are inconsistencies with the
movies if you look for them, but I would rather get swept along in an exciting story that
has a few minor contradictions, than plod through one that is consistent with what came
before but dull and predictable as a result. Which brings me to Star Wars Jedi: Fallen
Order, the new Star Wars game from Respawn. While most people seemed to enjoy it, I found
the whole experience rather dull and spent the entire time wishing I was playing Force
Unleashed 3 instead. I also found Fallen Order to be the embodiment
of much of Disney’s new Star Wars content and I now long for the days when developers
had a little more creative freedom to express themselves in the Star Wars universe. The Force Unleashed feels like a bunch of
unrestrained developers saw the force powers as something exciting that would make for
a great video game. Jedi Fallen Order, on the other hand, feels
like the developers were burdened by the potential of the force, squeezing it in because they
had to rather than because they wanted to. At the risk of glorifying game development
too much, I got the impression from playing The Force Unleashed that the developers had
always wanted to make this game and leapt on the opportunity when it was presented. Playing Jedi Fallen Order, I got the impression
the developers had been told to make the game and did the best they could in the time available. Both the story and the gameplay of Fallen
Order felt safe and formulaic. While the lightsaber combat was probably the
best it’s ever been, the collection of force powers was incredibly underwhelming, with
basic abilities such as push and pull being restricted to late-game abilities, and you
couldn’t use them much in combat due to an incredibly restrictive force meter that
you consumed even doing lightsaber specific moves. The characters were inoffensive and bland;
not annoying, but hardly endearing either. And the story was predictable and boring. You don’t have to be a huge Star Wars fan
to know how Kal’s quest to uncover info about a group of force sensitive children
will go bearing in mind it takes place between episodes 3 and 4. And yeah, I guess there are story spoilers
for Jedi Fallen Order in here, but I honestly wouldn’t worry about those. I started to wonder whether the old nostalgia
goggles were clouding my judgment, so I went back to play Force Unleashed 1 and 2, and,
despite both games having a lot of flaws, in fact, across the two games you can criticize
nearly every element of what makes up a video game, I still stand by my original claim. The Force Unleashed games are simply more
fun and more interesting than Jedi Fallen Order and I believe this is the direct result
of Disney’s takeover and aggressive control of the franchise when compared to the looser
touch taken by LucasArts under George Lucas. Instead of drip-feeding out force powers so
slowly that you have to wait 10 hours to pull a rope towards you, Force Unleashed has you
shooting lightning bolts from your dark side fingertips within minutes. Instead of a story that has you spending the
entire game moving from planet to planet looking for a McGuffin that you then decide not to
use, Force Unleashed tells the story of what inspired the rebels to fight in the first
place, with the end result feeling like it has filled in a gap in the timeline instead
of providing a tiny bit of extra detail about something that is ultimately superfluous anyway. To make a comparison to the movies, The Force
Unleashed is Rogue One. Not only does it tell a cool story, it explains
why there was a weak spot in the original Death Star which was previously something
that seemed like a tacky plot contrivance. Jedi Fallen Order is Solo. It tells a story that never needed telling
and doesn’t add anything interesting to the world or characters. Now, all that said, playing The Force Unleashed
games did make me appreciate just how difficult it is to create a game where you have all
those powers, and I now sympathize with Respawn and Jedi Fallen Order a little more. The comparison between The Force Unleashed
and Fallen Order perfectly illustrates a wider issue Disney has faced since purchasing the
Star Wars IP from George Lucas for $4 billion, namely that much of the content outside the
new trilogy feels rather dull, lifeless, and frankly unnecessary, with the reason for this
likely being the desire to keep all stories told across all media part of the official
canon. Shortly after the acquisition, Disney announced
that with the exception of the six movies and the Clone Wars television show, all existing
Star Wars stories, which number in the hundreds, if not thousands, if you include all the books,
comics, and games, would be relegated to Legends status. Disney even established a formal story group
to ensure the stories didn’t contradict each other. Shame that group didn’t also insist the
movies were planned out in advance, but that’s another story. Disney’s decision didn’t eradicate those
stories, and most continue to be actively sold in some form, however, many fans were
understandably upset that their favorite characters including post-original trilogy newcomers
like Mara Jade and Grand Admiral Thrawn from the books, and Old Republic classics like
Revan from the games, were no longer considered canon. Personally, I wasn’t upset or annoyed by
Disney’s decision to make the old stories non-canon. I was actually quite excited by it because
of the potential for a bunch of high quality stories that would connect across media and
develop characters for those who want to immerse themselves in the world of Star Wars more
than the average fan. Disney’s decision was also perfectly understandable
given the state of the Star Wars extended universe at the time it acquired the IP. Firstly, any attempt to keep the existing
stories in place would have placed a ridiculous number of constraints on the new movies and
the movies are the big money-makers. The movies will always come first. The extended universe included a bunch of
stories that took place after the end of the movies and saw major events such as Luke getting
cloned and married, Han and Leia having a bunch of kids who then grew up to have stories
of their own, and even the return of Palpatine if you can believe such a ridiculous notion. Disney could never have developed new movies
based on this existing canon without alienating 99% of the audience. Even the old books faced problems trying to
keep readers up to date on events. For example, at the beginning of Jedi Search,
the first book of the Jedi Academy trilogy, there’s an info dump about the whole Thrawn
situation, plus how Luke nearly went to the dark side when Palpatine returned. It’s awkward enough to read even as someone
who already knows those stories. Now multiply that by 100 as the movies attempt
to bring everyone up to speed on everything they missed by not reading the books and you
can understand the problem. And attempts to make movies based on the existing
stories would have likely failed. Take the infamous Thrawn trilogy by Timothy
Zahn which is a favorite amongst most fans of the books. The story is good, albeit perhaps not quite
as good as often described, but there’s no way this book trilogy would work as a movie
trilogy. Even putting aside the obvious problem concerning
the ages of Ford, Fisher, and Hamill for a story that takes place just after the original
trilogy, you still have crucial issues like how the big bad, i.e. Thrawn, never actually meets the heroes. The second book is also fairly dull. Thrawn is a great character and he certainly
impacts the story and drives the plot forward, but the lack of direct conflict between him
and the main three would be an issue for a trilogy of movies. There’s also a bunch of other factors like
many of the extended universe stories being fairly bad, if not outright terrible, or having
many of them contradict each other to such an extent that fans had to create a hierarchy
of canon to resolve disputes. Again, taking the Thrawn trilogy as an example,
those books were initially published between 1991 and 1993, which the observant amongst
you will note is before the prequels. As such, when the books referenced events
such as the clone wars, they did so with no real knowledge of what the Clone Wars would
end up being in the movies, or the role Anikin would play in them. Fortunately, the Legends stories, as they
are now called, still exist and many of them can be read as if they were still canon, at
least until Disney outright does something to contradict them. One of my favorite stories, Darth Plagueis,
appears to be largely unaffected by Disney’s new content for the time being, although I
think there are comics that I haven’t read yet which start messing with this one a bit. The Darth Bane trilogy and much of the Old
Republic stuff is largely untouched, including KOTOR. Revan has even been written into canon through
the visual dictionary accompaniment to The Rise of Skywalker. With the Star Wars franchise being in a slightly
awkward place right now, I imagine a fair few of you are disenchanted with the whole
thing, so with that in mind, I thought it would be cool to get some recommendations
going in the comments. If there are any Star Wars stories, new or
old, that you love, give them a shout out in the comments and upvote other people’s
recommendations as appropriate. We might be able to get a cool reading list
of sorts going. For old Legends stories, I’m going to recommend
the aforementioned Darth Plagueis, which manages the incredible feat of making the prequels
better, as well as being a good story in its own right. For new canon, I’m going to recommend Dark
Disciple, a story featuring Asajj Ventress, set around the time of the Clone Wars, as
the Jedi attempt to assassinate Count Dooku. I haven’t actually finished this one yet,
but I’m enjoying what I’ve read so far. The comics are also really good, so get yourself
a Marvel Unlimited subscription for a month and check them out. Anyway, I must admit Disney probably did the
right thing in creating a new set of canon stories and I was excited for them. Things started off promisingly enough with
solid books such as Tarkin and Lords of the Sith and Disney even brought back popular
characters like Thrawn, albeit not in exactly the same way that fans knew him. However, what I was really waiting for was
Aftermath, the first book to be set after Return of the Jedi. As we know, The Force Awakens introduced a
bunch of mysteries and I read Aftermath and its sequels closely, trying to pick out hints
for the big questions, such as who is Snoke and what’s the deal with the Knights of
Ren. All in all, and despite the flaws with The
Force Awakens, this was probably the happiest I’d ever been as a Star Wars fan. Two years later it all fell apart and the
desire to keep all content strictly canon was beginning to look like a misstep. As became clear with the dreadful The Last
Jedi, and was confirmed with the entertaining but unbelievably messy The Rise of Skywalker,
Disney didn’t have the whole trilogy planned out in advance at all, meaning it was impossible
for authors to include hints at the big mysteries in the books. No-one knew the answers to the questions posed
by JJ Abrams in The Force Awakens, not even JJ Abrams. And yes, this may seem rather predictable,
we are talking about the mind behind Lost after all, perhaps the most infamous example
of mystery box storytelling where the creator didn’t have a clue how he would answer his
own questions. However, I assumed Disney would have been
a little more astute than that. It wasn’t. Perhaps the more pertinent problem faced by
those trying to tell Star Wars stories, be they in books, comics, or, eventually, games,
is that they are heavily restricted in the types of stories they can tell and how interesting
those stories can be. For example, Bloodline, a story centered on
Leia a few years before The Force Awakens, has to dodge most references to Ben Solo and
his jedi training with Luke because no one knew how that was going to play out at the
time of release. The book seems to imply that the jedi massacre
hadn’t happened yet, but you can tell the author left this deliberately vague because
at the time of writing it hadn’t been established when Ben Solo would become Kylo Ren. Then there’s a book about Luke set between
episodes 4 and 5 which is inherently predictable, and much of the lusture around Thrawn is removed
when you place him in the years before A New Hope and therefore strip him of the potential
to make much impact. Obviously a lot of people are enjoying the
new stories, be they in movies, television shows, books, comics, or games, and, with
the exception of The Last Jedi, I completely understand that. It just feels like something is missing, especially
in video games, where we have only two Battlefront games, only one of which has a story, Fallen
Order, a VR game, and some portable gambling machines. Playing Fallen Order, and then replaying the
Force Unleashed games, really hit home how much I would have preferred a Force Unleashed
3 game over Jedi Fallen Order, even if that would have sent shockwaves through Disney’s
story group. Frankly, even the ideas that LucasArts eventually
abandoned, were more interesting than Jedi Fallen Order. LucasArts considered making a game where you
play as Darth Maul or a Wookie Freedom Fighter, but it eventually settled on the idea of playing
as Starkiller, a powerful dark side force user and secret apprentice to Darth Vader. Starkiller was envisioned as a darker Luke
Skywalker, with the story designed to resemble what might have happened if Luke had joined
up with Vader at the end of The Empire Strikes Back and killed the Emperor to become a Sith
Lord. As with Shadow of the Empire back in 1996,
Lucas Arts designed The Force Unleashed as a connected multimedia project to capture
the imaginations of all Star Wars fans, not just those interested in video games. In addition to the main game release, there
were different versions of the game for older consoles and handhelds, a tie-in novel and
comic book, sets of toys and miniatures, plus a roleplaying supplement. Starkiller even cameos in Soul Calibur IV. This cross-media status elevated The Force
Unleashed beyond most video game adaptations or other expanded universe content, and crucially,
meant that George Lucas himself would be involved. After approving the initial story outline,
Lucas helped the team with core parts of the story such as offering guidance on the relationship
between Vader and Starkiller which he felt would be based on fear and not support. Lucas also added Juno Eclipse, Starkiller’s
love interest throughout both games, because he thought the initial draft lacked a personal
connection for Starkiller. He even gave the team the name “Juno Eclipse”
which was the original name of Asajj Ventress from the Clone Wars series. Perhaps most importantly, Lucas also gave
his permission to the developer’s ideas for where the story would go and he wasn’t
overly precious concerning the use of core characters. After finalizing the story outline, the team
sent a list of questions to Lucas, such as “Can we use Princess Leia” and they were pleasantly
surprised to receive approvals across the board. One of the main goals LucasArts had when making
The Force Unleashed was to have the player feel like a powerful force user. Part of that can be seen in the choice of
force powers, which I’ll discuss later, but those powers wouldn’t have had the desired
impact if the game engine couldn’t do them justice. With that in mind Lucas Arts incorporated
three crucial pieces of middleware into the Ronin game engine that all worked together
to make the player feel like they really were having a huge effect on the environment and
the people in it. HAVOK is a physics engine that let lots of
objects be movable, taking into account their mass and size. This meant nearly anything could be picked
up a flung around, potentially into other items causing chain reactions across the screen. Assigning weight to objects meant the heavier
items felt and moved differently when Starkiller interacted with them via force powers. Light items could be flung across the room
quickly although they might get blocked by larger ones. Heavy items might take more effort to move,
but would destroy all in their path once you did throw them. Another piece of middleware, Digital Molecular
Matter, known as DMM, simulated the substance of molecules to ensure materials behaved similarly
to how they did in the real world. For example, glass should shatter, metal should
bend, and wood should splinter. The inclusion of DMM meant Starkiller could
throw enemies through glass windows and open metal doors by bending them out of his way. Finally, there was Euphoria, the biomechanical
AI. True to form, the stormtroopers of The Force
Unleashed aren’t all that bright, but Euphoria does add an element of self-preservation into
the mix, so they will occasionally run and hide. As is often the case when game devs talk about
enemy AI, it tends to sound a lot better than it actually is in practice. I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up
of hearing revolutionary talk about AI, which often gets regurgitated by the games media
unfortunately, and then it ends up being just flanking. And not even intelligent flanking. I don’t think I have footage of this, but
I remember in the Division 2, a game people insisted had good AI on the harder difficulties,
I would see enemies so determined to flank that they would slowly climb ladders right
in front of me. That’s not intelligent in my book. From behind the scenes interviews at LucasArts,
you can tell the devs are really proud of how the enemies try to grab on to people or
objects when you fling them through the air, however, that is largely all there is to it. I don’t know whether this is considered
a huge leap in AI or if the Stormtroopers all just have sticky hands from eating too
much candy floss. They still stand around in the open far too
often, so when they aren’t flying around like ragdolls, there isn’t much impressive AI to
speak of. When the three pieces of middleware all talk
to each other, the results can be impressive, such as throwing objects at enemies who then
go flying and try to grab hold of something before ultimately going through a glass window
into space. The ragdoll enemies do look a little silly,
but I like how they feel insignificant and weak compared to Starkiller. In addition to the main version of the game
created for PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, The Force Unleashed was also released on PS2, PSP, Nintendo
DS, and the Wii, with each separate version subcontracted to an outside development team. These other versions were clearly inferior
products because they couldn’t replicate the physics system that was so crucial to the
Force Unleashed experience, however, to partly make up for this, each version did have unique
content or modes. For example, the Wii version assigned force
powers to the nunchuk that freed up the wiimote to be used for motion based lightsaber controls. I haven’t played the Wii version, but I’m
going to go ahead and assume that those motion controls worked about as well as most of the
motion controls on the Wii, i.e. it ended up being little more than a glorified waggle
system where you flick your wrist to do everything when it would be easier to press a button. Other versions contained exclusive levels,
for example, the PSP version let you play out classic moments from the movies. With all these different versions to oversee,
plus the task of incorporating those three crucial pieces of middleware, it’s not hard
to imagine that the team might have been stretched a little thin even though there were four
years between initial planning and release. Unfortunately, that conclusion is unmistakable
when you play the final product, which in many ways feels like an early alpha build. If you’ll excuse the overly technical language,
The Force Unleashed feels rough. The game didn’t need more playtesting, bug
fixing, or general QA; it needed more core development. The problems are evident from the moment you
first move Starkiller. He doesn’t feel connected to the environment
at all and his jumps are completely unnatural. The camera is also terrible so during those
rare times when you have to do some light platforming, the combination of an unwieldy
jump and a piss poor camera mean your chances of actually landing where you want are slim. Combine this with some terrible checkpoints,
and you get moments such as this one where I ended up repeatedly missing this jump and
having to repeat five minutes of combat just to get another go at it. The recovery time is also incredibly annoying. It’s bad enough that Starkiller takes an
age to get back on his feet; it’s made worse by the fact that you don’t regain complete
control once the animation is finished. There’s this extra little delay for some
reason. This means you might not be able to avoid
being hit again immediately upon standing up. Combat is functional enough, although I wouldn’t
go so far as to say that I particularly enjoyed it. With The Force Unleashed, LucasArts went for
a Devil May Cry style system with all Starkiller’s lightsaber attacks activated by the press
of one button, with the potential to be converted into combos with multiple presses, and different
combos available if you start adding in slight pauses between each button press. Starkiller’s force lightning serves as the
ranged option. Unlike Dante’s gun, which tends to be more
for crowd control and maintaining combos, the force lightning is incredibly powerful
and therefore has to be restricted by a force meter. Even so, it’s still far too easy to defeat
enemies by keeping your distance, using the lightning and then waiting for your force
meter to fill up before letting loose again. The combos aren’t particularly distinctive
either visually or in terms of damage dealt, so the only real incentive to use them is
the additional points reward for using different moves during combat. Each level has a target number of style points
to reach and hitting the target rewards extra XP. This also sounds a lot like Devil May Cry’s
system however there is one crucial difference and that’s the lack of a grading system while
you fight. Sure, the names of the moves you’re doing
appear in the top left corner, but without that letter system on the screen it’s hard
to tell just how stylish you’re actually being, especially because the moves aren’t all that
visually different. While it is possible to unlock aerial moves
and juggle combos, these are essentially last on the unlock tree and most people won’t get
to experience them. It’s a shame there’s no reason to experiment
with all these movesets due to a lack of enemy variety. Actually, that’s not really fair, there
are a decent number of enemy types, it’s just that they don’t require different tactics
to beat. The three things you need to be able to do
for basically every fight are mash out your basic four button combo for the lightsaber,
and spam lightning and force push. Here are a few rules of thumb that will get
you through most fights. If the enemies are roughly human sized, just
spam lightsaber attacks. If they have some sort of shield, then give
them a quick push first, then spam the lightsaber attacks. Anything bigger than that, use lightning until
your force meter is completely drained and then use the lightsaber while they are stunned. By the time the stun has run out, you might
need to dodge an attack or two, then your force meter will be replenished and you’re
good to go again. This isn’t challenging but sure can be tedious. Take the Dark Stormtroopers that are reminiscent
of those from Dark Forces. These guys are fairly slow and not difficult
to beat, even if there’s two or three of them, but they do have big health bars which
means the fights are slow. It’s not worth taking risks and going in
for extra attacks because they have a grab that does a lot of damage , so you will end
up playing it safe and doing the lightning routine. This even applies to big AT-STs. You can attack them in the air for a bit,
but eventually you’ll fall to the floor and they will use AOE attacks to push you
away. By far the easiest way to defeat these things
is to do the lightning thing. Like I said, this combat isn’t really bad. There are a lot of enemies to deal with and
you have to do the usual stuff like prioritizing those that you think are most dangerous, but
it certainly doesn’t do anything interesting. There are a decent chunk of force abilities,
although it’s not so much the number of them that stands out as it is their power. You technically only start off with force
push and force grip although force lightning comes along almost immediately. Force push and force lightning are your staple
moves that you’ll use all the time and should level up as quickly as possible. They also look great, especially when you
start incorporating them into aerial combos or rain down lightning from on high. Lightning is especially useful for dealing
with big machines like the AT-STs and can even take TIE fighters out in mid-flight. Once upgraded, this can be chained to deal
damage to multiple enemies at one time, which is great for crowd control. Force grip is the power that should be most
fun in theory because it lets you pick items up and fling them around, however, the implementation
of this is a disaster due to the incredibly sensitive lock-on system. I say lock on system, but I’m not sure that
name should be used when the lock will break with any movement of the camera or Starkiller
himself. You’ll often go to pick up the item that
is currently highlighted only to grab something different, like an object behind or underneath
the one you wanted to grab. Moving the item around requires you to use
both analog sticks and it’s slow, and even if you do go through all this, when you try
to throw the item at an enemy, you have no real idea where it will go. Force repulse is good for getting enemies
off you and is great for crowd control, although again I didn’t find many situations to use
it effectively. The saber throw looks great although the time
required to charge up for big damage means you’ll likely just use it as a way to swat
enemies out of the air or deal with pesky ones at range. Finally, there is a force shield which has
the added, and very useful, benefit of adding lightning to your normal lightsaber attacks. Clearly force push and force lightning are
the bread and butter moves. Along with all the lightsaber moves, it’s
more than enough to feel like a powerful force user, and you get them all early enough that
there’s plenty of time for upgrades. Short of completely redesigning the game,
one thing that might have improved the experience would have been changing the skill unlock
system. The current system lets you spend skill points
which are awarded for levelling up, but can also be given for getting a certain amount
of style points in a level or finding collectibles. You then spend these points in three categories:
force combos, force powers, and force talents, with a point awarded in each category every
time you level up. Combos and powers are self-explanatory. Talents are passive bonuses like more health
and force meter or faster regeneration of those bars. Levelling up force powers and talents liked
to force ability is clearly the way to go. Being able to chain lightning between multiple
enemies is more useful than another combo you might never use. This system is again not dissimilar to Devil
May Cry where you could also level up your guns which were a secondary ability, and that’s
kind of the point. They were secondary. The force powers on the other hand start off
incredibly powerful and by the end they are God-like and you need strong willpower not
to use them. This makes the game too easy, so my suggestion
would be to remove the force powers and maybe even the talents from skill tree and focus
on the lightsaber. This doesn’t have to be too restrictive. Lightning would still shock things and kill
weaker enemies and a force push is a force push. It would still have utility, it just wouldn’t
kill enemies on contact. They’d need to be pushed into something
explosive or off an edge. The force grip ability lets you grab hold
of TIE fighters right from the start. Where do you go from there? The force powers are powerful right out of
the gate; it’s one of the things I love about the game. But maybe for that very reason, players don’t
need the opportunity to continuously make them more powerful. As I said, the combat in The Force Unleashed
is largely functional. You absolutely can pull of some stylish combos
and I recommend you look up some videos of people doing just that because in the hands
of a skilled player, it looks like a different game to the one I’m playing. Unfortunately, I never felt the push to master
The Force Unleashed like I used to do with the Devil May Cry games. When the game is good enough, like Devil May
Cry 3 in particular, you want to repeat levels just to play more of the game. Being stylish should be its own reward. That’s not the case with The Force Unleashed. It has the system in place with all the potential
lightsaber combos, but it lacks the enemy variety that demands mastery of those systems
and force powers like lightning and push make for a fun game, but not an especially challenging
one. Still, the combat was good enough to keep
me ploughing through because, despite being overpowered, there is something inherently
fun about swinging a lightsaber, chucking our force lightning, and flinging stuff around
with force powers. That said, there is one crucial area where
The Force Unleashed completely fails and that’s the boss fights. Most of the boss fights are against other
force users, often powerful Jedi or sith lords, so on paper, these battles should be epic
encounters between light side and dark side powers and tests of skill for both the player
and Starkiller. Imagine the fight with Vergil in Devil May
Cry 3 where two equally powerful opponents go up against each other in a battle of skill. That’s absolutely not how the fights play
out in The Force Unleashed. I’m not entirely sure what they were going
for with these encounters. They aren’t fights of skill, a la DMC, they
aren’t spectacle fights like God of War, and they aren’t puzzle fights like say a
Zelda game. For most bosses it feels like you’re fighting
a normal enemy with a bigger health bar and a bunch of cheap attacks. Many of the core problems are common to all
boss fights, such as the camera which, perhaps in recognition of its inability to keep up
with more hectic encounters, locks itself in place so that you can’t move it. Boss attacks feel incredibly cheap. The zoomed out perspective makes it hard to
spot details in animations that would clue you in to attacks and even when you do see
them they come out quickly. Take, for example, this attack from Kazdan
Paratus. From the start of the animation to the time
the attack hits, is a third of a second. That’s not impossible to react to by any
stretch, but you also need to consider that (1) without mods, Force Unleashed runs at
30 frames per second, and (2) I am being incredibly generous to the game with regards to when
the animation starts and given the way he moves and how thin those robot arms are and
how they blend into the environment, you’d be forgiven for not spotting the start of
this attack, let alone quickly distinguishing it from other attacks. Kazdan has loads of terrible moves, including
some that I’m convinced aren’t signposted at all, and are essentially unreactable. The Kota fight has a similar problem. Most of his attacks give you closer to half
a second to react, but he has hardly any animation tells to react to. . It’s a shame the melee combat is so unreliable
because lightsaber duels are of course one of the most spectacular things to watch in
the Star Wars universe, and it would be great to have them play out in a game. This ties in to some of the core issues with
combat, namely the terrible lock on. The lock on is frustrating at the best of
times, but even more so when you have this weird camera to deal with. Some bosses, like Maris Brood, are weak to
lightning, but trying to actually hit her with the stuff, even from close range, is
a nightmare. At one point, you get to fight Darth Maul. Well, technically it’s your droid imitating
Darth Maul with a hologram, but beggars can’t be choosers and I was excited to see the one
of the few good things from the Phantom Menace appear in The Force Unleashed. That double-bladed lightsaber of his still
looks damn impressive, even if it isn’t especially hard to defend against. Unfortunately, Maul seemed to glitch out when
I fought him, laying down on the floor and just letting me stab him until he eventually
died. On a more minor note, many bosses are seemingly
immune to many of your force powers, although it isn’t always clear when or why. For example, I tried to grab hold of Kazdan
early on and he always seemed to shake it off, so I gave up and struggled on this fight
for a long time. Eventually, I tried it again and not only
did it work, it seemed to be his main weakness. I can understand why you wouldn’t have free
reign with your force powers against bosses. They are also jedi after all, and it would
be a bit too easy if they didn’t have some kind of resistance. The problem is the inconsistency. Kota sometimes has a shield of sorts around
him, which I thought might be signifying resistance to force powers, but that wasn’t it. Other bosses are much the same. They will sometimes not only block Starkiller’s
lightning, but even seemingly throw it back at him, while other times they are vulnerable,
but there’s no indication as to when this would apply. It’s not even like some bosses are immune
to some powers; it’s that they are all immune to all the powers, some of the time. The big name fights against Vader and the
Emperor are especially bad. The Vader fight has this awful section where
he stands on a small island in the middle and throws things at you with the force and
these throws are pretty much undodgeable. I did manage to avoid a couple, but that seemed
to be more down to luck because there’s an insane amount of tracking. You can only jump on to this island to attack
him after stunning him and even then you can only get a few hits in before he throws you
off. Or tries to throw you off because you can
button mash your way out of it, except he just grabs you again before you hit the floor,
but you can button mash your way out, except he just grabs you again before you hit the
floor, but… you can probably see where this is going. Then there’s the big fight against the Emperor,
which is one of the easiest fights in the game. He throws a bunch of things at you, but there
are loads of safe places to hide and he’s kind enough to bring in minions which will
help you regenerate your health. All in all, you get the distinct impression
that the big fights weren’t especially well thought out. There are few fights you could describe as
epic. Outside of the main bosses, the first fight
against the rancor was good, but then they bring loads of them in, with four in one relatively
confined area, and they became a bit of a chore. By the time you get to fight Maris Brood’s
pet rancor, you know to just casually jump over the charge attacks, hit it a few times,
and repeat. To be fair, many of the issues with bosses
aren’t unique to bosses, they are just more pronounced due to the scale of the encounter. The tougher the enemy, the more you notice
flaws. For example, the shadow guards put up a good
fight, but they are cheap as hell. As I was reviewing the footage, I noticed
a time when I tried to attack a shadow guard who had his back to me. I went to attack and he turned and blocked
in 1 frame. The AT-ST has a big stomp attack that has
an insanely big hit radius. And there are a bunch of minor issues like
Starkiller’s ground attack not working properly, so more often than not, he won’t do his
little stab move when the enemy is vulnerable. And that’s the issue with all the combat
here really. It’s not built on any rules. Or at least, not any obvious, reliable, and
observable ones. And that means it doesn’t feel fair. I suppose one exception to that is the quick
time events that pop up on a semi-regular basis. Large enemies like Rancors and AT-STs can
be finished off by engaging in a QTE, although in those cases it is optional; you can continue
to deplete the health bar normally if you like. All bosses are finished off with lengthy QTE
cutscenes where the button prompts bear little or no relation to the events you see depicted
on screen. You’ll also see some QTEs during boss fights
if both Starkiller and the boss happen to use the same attack on each other, for example,
they both try to use lightning. This brings up a dial where you have to time
three or four consecutive button presses to win the duel. Sometimes there’s no animation to link up
the combat with the QTE, which happened a lot in the fight with Kazdan. Playing the footage back, you can see the
two characters go from standing there to being engaged in a lightsaber duel in just one frame. I’m guessing the game detected that we both
hit attack on the same frame, but it would be nice if there were some animations to link
it up. These QTEs are like most QTEs in that they
don’t add anything to the experience, but are at least largely ignorable for someone
like myself who doesn’t have any disabilities that make this an issue. However, there is one QTE that is truly terrible
and that’s the Star Destroyer that Starkiller needs to bring down to inflict a blow against
the empire. This sequence alternates between defeating
the TIE fighters flying at you, which is easily done by zapping them with electricity, and
then moving the Star Destroyer into position which is not so easily done. Not at all. There’s nothing obviously difficulty about
the QTEs here. It’s not like some insanely fast rhythm
game where you have to respond to a load of prompts in a short time. You simply need to move the analog sticks
as directed on the screen and then hold them in position for about a second when directed
to do so. What could be difficult about that. You can only move the ship a bit before another
wave of TIE Fighters attacks, so you’ll have to repeat this about four or five times. Still, sounds easy enough, right? The slight niggle with this QTE is that it
doesn’t work. The instructions on screen are often wrong,
so the game might tell you to rest the sticks in the neutral position, when in fact you
still need to push more to the left or right or up or down. You’re actually looking for a sweet spot that
will light up green, but this can be incredibly difficult to pinpoint when you have no idea
which direction to move the sticks in. I tried making the smallest movements, but
often couldn’t get it quite right before I had to stop and take out another wave of TIE
Fighters. Any powerful story beat this moment was trying
to bring out was completely lost on me and I was left feeling like it would have been
easier to bring down an actual star destroyer in real-life. With all its issues around the camera, general
movement, and a sloppy combat system, it’s undeniable that The Force Unleashed hasn’t
aged especially well. It’s a double A title which, even at release,
lagged a little behind other games coming out that year such as Dead Space or Grand
Theft Auto IV when it came to recreating large 3D environments. Games changed drastically between 2005 and
2008 as developers started getting to grips with the new hardware and The Force Unleashed
ended up getting caught out by far more polished releases such as Gears of War 2. However, there are advantages to being stuck
distinctly in the mid-2000s, and one of them is the idea of including a bunch of free cosmetic
items that could be unlocked by playing through the game and getting high scores or, if you
didn’t want to go to all that hassle, you could use cheat codes, and by cheat codes,
I don’t mean your credit card number. Playing the full version of The Force Unleashed
now gives you access to all the costumes right off the bat and there are so many it can be
a bit overwhelming. I shouldn’t call them costumes really because
most of them aren’t costumes, they’re avatars. If you get bored of playing as Starkiller
you can swap him out for a frankly ridiculous number of other characters, many of whom also
have multiple costumes. The obvious candidates such as Luke and Han
are present and correct, but you can also play as Chewie, Obi-Wan, Grand Moff Tarkin,
Qui Gon Jin, and loads more. Of course, they all play the exact same way,
so it is purely a cosmetic thing, but as cosmetic things go, it’s pretty damn cool. Despite all these options at my disposal,
I didn’t use them that often because Starkiller changes outfits anyway as he develops through
the course of the game, and this visual indicator that he is growing as the story progresses
is pretty damn cool especially when you look appropriately jedi-esque at the end. It’s better than making slight tweaks to
the color of your poncho. That said, I couldn’t resist playing a bit
as Luke from Return of the Jedi and even changed the lightsaber to green so that it felt a
little more accurate. This is one of my favorite looks from the
original trilogy. Speaking of lightsabers, the different colored
kyber crystals also come with different benefits attached such as extra style points, more
health regen, quicker force recovery, and the like. Overall, The Force Unleashed feels a bit like
a love letter to the entire franchise at times, almost like the lego games in that respect. They will happily let you play as any character
in any scenario if it’s fun, and to hell with the canon. That’s not to imply that LucasArts went roughshod
over the existing canon because Haden Blackman actually did an excellent job creating a story
that fits plausibly between episodes 3 and 4, and the first game in particular probably
adds weight to the events of the original trilogy, which is not something I can say
about many extended universe stories. The Force Unleashed starts with you playing
as Darth Vader on Kashyyyk, with a full complement of force powers, except lightning which Vader
cannot use. He’s on Kashyyyk to track down one of the
Jedi who managed to escape Order 66, which is a story beat that’s visited a lot in both
the Legends stories and the new canon. It makes perfect sense that not all Jedi could
have been killed that day, so the idea of Vader getting his hands dirty while he is
still proving himself to the Emperor makes complete sense. Vader is about to kill the Jedi when he senses
another, more powerful force user nearby, and assumes it to be this jedi’s master. Seconds later, Vader’s lightsaber is ripped
from his hand and goes flying straight into the cast-iron grip of a child. Intrigued, Vader kills the older Jedi and
all the imperial troops who witnessed the event, before kidnapping the child and hiding
him away in secret, training him as his apprentice. Fast forward about two decades, and Starkiller
is nearly ready to take on the Emperor alongside Vader. While the name Starkiller is perhaps now synonymous
with the base from The Force Awakens, it’s worth noting that Starkiller was the original
surname of Luke Skywalker back in early drafts of the movie. It does sound a little ominous so it’s easy
to understand why Lucas changed it, however, it’s perfect for a sith apprentice. Starkiller is tasked with completing three
final tests before being deemed ready, the first of which is to assassinate an old Jedi
named General Kota who is hiding out on a ship above the planet Nar Shaddaa, the homeworld
of Aurra Sing. Kota survived Order 66 because he preferred
to rely on his own militia instead of clone troopers and therefore wasn’t with them
for Order 66. Starkiller’s work for Vader is dangerous and
as such he tends to churn through pilots. He’s assigned Juno Eclipse as pilot for
this mission. Starkiller is also accompanied by his loyal
droid PROXY who is programmed to try to kill him at any opportunity, thereby keeping Starkiller
focused at all times. After killing Kota, Starkiller must kill Kazdan
Paratus, an insane droid obsessed jedi who has surrounded himself with robot replicas
of past Jedi masters, and then Shaak Ti, who is in Episode 2 and features fairly prominently
in the Clone Wars TV series. Having disposed of three Jedi, Vader accepts
that Starkiller is ready to take on the Emperor, however, Starkiller and Vader never get to
enact their plan. The Emperor’s spies followed Starkiller to
a meeting with Vader and the Emperor catches the two of them scheming. Vader realizes his master got the better of
him this time and opts to kill his apprentice by stabbing him and launching him into space. You might expect the Emperor to be somewhat
upset at Vader’s betrayal here, but that’s not really the case. In fact, it’s pretty much par for the course,
because that’s how the rule of two works. As you probably know, the rule of two states
that there must always be two sith lords: a master and an apprentice. The rule was formally put in place by Darth
Bane about 1000 years before the events of the movies, although the idea of Sith ruling
via a Master and Apprentice can be traced back to the time of the Old Republic. Bane stated that “two there must be, no
more no less. One to embody power, the other to crave it.” However, Bane recognized that the sith would
become stagnant if the master and apprentice continued to rule until one of them died of
natural causes and there needed to be a succession plan. To that end, Bane recognized that the apprentice
must at some point challenge the master. Should the apprentice defeat the master, he
will become the master and take on an apprentice of their own. Typically, there’s already an apprentice waiting
in the wings. This weird expectation of betrayal can end
up being a bit comical. For example, in that Darth Bane trilogy, Bane
clearly wants his apprentice Zannah to challenge him and yet he is angry at even the mere suspicion
that she is up to something behind his back. Later on, he grows increasingly annoyed that
Zannah waits for him to become weaker before challenging him because this makes her a coward
for not doing it sooner. It can get a bit circuitous. I think it’s a bit like insisting to all
your friends that you don’t want to do anything for your birthday, but really you do, and
you get annoyed if they don’t actually plan a surprise party. The point is, sith lords expect to be betrayed
and even welcome it in a weird way because it shows their apprentice is power hungry
enough to lead the sith in the future. The Rule of Two is partly why the Sith were
able to survive over the last 1,000 years and operate under the noses of the jedi for
so long. This is my long winded way of explaining why
Palps and Vader don’t have a big showdown after the betrayal. Of course, Starkiller is not dead. Vader secretly sends out bots to retrieve
him and he is revived. Vader explains that the whole stabbing him
with a lightsaber and throwing him into space thing was another part of the deception. After discovering that the Emperor’s spies
were tracking Starkiller, Vader came up with a more elaborate plan to take the Emperor
by surprise. Part of that plan involved appearing to kill
Starkiller to throw the Emperor off the scent and the next step is to create a distraction
for the Emperor’s spies. That’s where Starkiller comes in. Vader instructs Starkiller to get the attention
of the rebels and work with them to help take down the Empire by hitting high value targets. This will consume the attention of the Emperor’s
spies and allow Vader and Starkiller to spring a trap. Starkiller does as he’s told. He first goes after General Kota, who it turns
out didn’t die during that first mission, although he is now blind and doesn’t recognize
Starkiller as the man who nearly killed him. Starkiller then rescues Princess Leia and
her father, Bail Organa, before destroying a tower on Kashyyyk that the Empire was using
to enslave wookies, and then he brings down that Star Destroyer. The rebels certainly have the attention of
the empire now. They gather together to plan the next phase
of the attack, however the meeting is interrupted by Darth Vader who once again betrays Starkiller
and tries to kill him. Vader reveals that the whole thing about infiltrating
the rebels to distract the Emperor’s spies was actually part of a different plan to locate
the rebel leaders and cut down the insurrection before it could truly get started. Vader goes even further and states that this
was always the plan. Both the game and the book use language that
clearly states the plan in question went all the way back to the moment Vader first met
Starkiller as a child, back when he was called Galen Marek, however, I can’t believe that’s
actually the case. It would be stretching things a bit to imply
that Vader saw a young child and thought he could train him as an apprentice then trick
him into trying to kill the emperor then betraying him and leaving him for dead as part of a
plan to infiltrate a rebel faction that didn’t exist yet. I’m going to go ahead and assume that this
part of the plan was only put in place after the Emperor had discovered the initial betrayal. That makes a lot more sense. The imperials take the rebels as prisoners
and PROXY sacrifices his own life to save Starkiller, who is now hell bent on revenge,
having finally accepted that his master betrayed him. Juno and Starkiller head to the Death Star
which is undergoing testing on the seven separate lasers that will one day combine to blow up
Aldaaron. The ending plays out much like Return of the
Jedi. Starkiller defeats Darth Vader in combat but
doesn’t kill him. The Emperor then encourages Starkiller to
give in to the dark side and execute Vader to take his rightful place at the Emperor’s
side. The player is given the choice of how to proceed. You can kill Vader if you like. This isn’t the canon ending, however, it
does tie into some strange pieces of “what if” DLC where you play through select highly-bastardized
events of the original trilogy with Starkiller acting as the Emperor’s apprentice to attack
the rebels at Hoth and on Tatooine. Other than providing the novelty of fighting
against the likes of Luke Skywalker and Boba Fett, these DLCs don’t do much interesting. The canon ending sees Starkiller fight the
Emperor long enough for the rebels to escape, however, Starkiller dies in the process. There’s then a nice epilogue where the rebels
discover Starkiller’s family crest and adopt it as the symbol of the rebellion that we
are already so familiar with. All in all, it’s not a bad story by any
stretch. I especially like the canon ending and feel
Starkiller’s sacrifice was appropriate and worthwhile. Ultimately, he couldn’t destroy the Empire
by himself, we always knew that, but he did inspire the rebellion, and we know how that
turned out. It’s also interesting to start out playing
as a bad guy and even going so far as to kill jedi. Having the protagonist start off bad and then
potentially turn good makes for a more believable ending decision than the one Luke faces in
Return of the Jedi. Let’s face it, no one ever thought he would
turn to the dark side. Conversely, Starkiller accepted the dark side
early on, and continued to use dark side force powers even after joining the rebellion. While Vader’s betrayals may have made him
see the folly of the dark side, it’s equally likely they would lead to anger and that isn’t
an emotion consistent with the light side of the force. It’s understandable he might give in to
the dark side and kill Vader to become the new apprentice. That said, I do think Lucas Arts needed to
do more to show Starkiller battling with the conflict or perhaps incorporate player choice
a little earlier. Just before rescuing Bail Organa, Starkiller
has the choice to kill Maris Brood, but he lets her live. This might have been a good time to let the
player make the choice to help shape their own version of Starkiller. It wouldn’t have required much extra work. Really though, I just wanted to see more of
Starkiller struggling with the conflict. There’s one scene of note where he does,
and that isn’t handled especially well. Starkiller talks to Vader via a hologram on
PROXY. Starkiller clenches his fist in frustration,
something Vader picks up on. Juno overhears the conversation and is angry
at Starkiller for still working with the man who tried to kill both of them not long ago. She storms off and Starkiller is left to ponder
where his loyalties lie. While this scene does the job in showing Starkiller’s
conflict, it also feels highly artificial in the way it does so. It seems silly that Starkiller wouldn’t
try to explain what’s going on to Juno after he’s been caught, and if Juno really does
believe Starkiller is working for Vader, why does she continue to work for him? Why doesn’t she inform the rebels that they
are walking into a trap? She seems perfectly content to keep working
for Starkiller even after finding out this huge news. There are no consequences to her discovering
Starkiller talking to Vader. Even later on when she sees Starkiller talking
to Vader again, she doesn’t demand Starkiller pledge his allegiance one way or the other. She seems happy enough to just carry on and
see where things fall. It feels like there’s a missing scene in
between these two conversations where Juno and Starkiller sit down to talk and Starkiller
explains that he is committed to working for the rebels and lying to Vader. He could also talk about how he still feels
the constant pull of the dark side and craves the power it can offer. This would do enough to set up the bad non-canon
ending. Anyway, another scene with Juno would have
been nice, because as things stand, I didn’t think the kiss just before the final mission
was really earned. As a character, Juno is a little underdeveloped
in the game although that problem is mitigated slightly if you read the tie-in novel. Obviously you shouldn’t have to do that. In the books for both Force Unleashed one
and two, the chapters generally alternate between Starkiller and Juno, and we get to
see why Juno was picked for the mission with Starkiller in the first place and how she
was left for dead with Starkiller after Vader’s initial betrayal. The book based on the first game is light
on details because it attempts to be a strict retelling of the events of the game, and therefore
Juno’s chapters end up being the story of her waiting around in the ship for Starkiller
to come back. There’s only so much you can do with that. However, we do find out that she was an excellent
TIE fighter pilot who was flying a mission with Darth Vader over Callos. The mission was successful, however, she was
still instructed to kill all life on the planet. She casually mentioned that maybe this wasn’t
necessary because they already had what they needed and Vader seemed to agree, instead
instructing her to hit a power planet. What Juno didn’t realize at the time was
that destroying the plant in question would have a knock on effect that would wipe out
all life on the planet anyway. This clearly planted seeds of doubt in Juno’s
mind and makes it easy to believe she would switch loyalties when asked. Mind you, it does raise the question as to
why Vader would pair a seemingly conflicted pilot alongside his prize apprentice, but
we won’t worry about that. Within the game itself, Starkiller and PROXY
are probably the stars of the show and they make a great pair. I’ve come to realize lately that I’m a
sucker for evil droids in the Star Wars universe. My favorite recent example is Triple Zero
from the new canon comics, primarily the First volume of Darth Vader and the Doctor Aphra
series. I highly recommend checking out these comics
if you have the chance. Triple Zero is absolutely phenomenal and the
contrast between him and C-3PO makes it all the sweeter when he gets told he can’t torture
someone and complains about being torture teased. PROXY isn’t quite as good as Triple Zero
but he’s still amusing and his sacrifice at the end hits hard despite, or perhaps because
of, all his previous attempts to kill you. Speaking of which, that moment where PROXY
takes on various forms to try and kill Starkiller after he took down the star destroyer, is
one of the few moments that plays out differently in the books. In the books, PROXY is controlled by an evil
AI from the ship, so it’s not really PROXY trying to kill Starkiller here. The rest of the book follows the game so closely
that I can only assume this was a late change to the game’s script that simply didn’t
get picked up in the book. Starkiller is portrayed by Sam Witwer, who
was initially auditioned for the role simply because he looked like Starkiller. In addition to being a passionate Star Wars
fan, Witwer is the voice actor of Darth Maul in Clone Wars and Rebels, plus he has done
a bunch of minor voice roles across the television shows and movies. He is even credited in Jedi Fallen Order. He puts in a great performance here and deserves
more credit for his role as Starkiller. I know the motion capture isn’t as good
as more prominent examples, but the voice acting by itself is excellent. Lucas Arts also did a great job picking side
characters for the story and avoided many of the obvious picks, with the exception of
Princess Leia. Her role mostly fits well with the existing
story, although she might have been better off out of it, because there’s now the issue
of having to explain why Starkiller never came up in the original movies. You’d think the incredibly powerful jedi
she once knew would get a mention. Other choices are more interesting. Mon Mothma is here as the rebel leader, but
best of all, we get lots of screen time from the incredible Bail Organa, who I think is
one of the better characters in the universe that we haven’t spent much time with. Organa is even voiced by Jimmy Smitts so he
looks and sounds spot on. Finally, there’s Bel Iblis who doesn’t
have the name recognition of the others, but is familiar to those who read the original
Thrawn trilogy. Having him here is a subtle level of fan service
that I loved. The use of characters across different mediums
and different creators was something I always loved about the extended universe. In fact, given this devotion to the Legends
canon, I’m surprised LucasArts opted to use these small droids as the enemy that drains
force energy from Starkiller instead of the islamari that are so prominent in the Thrawn
trilogy. That’s only a small point though, and doesn’t
detract from efforts elsewhere. It’s little touches like the inclusion of
Bel Iblis that endeared fans towards the game perhaps more than they might otherwise have. Despite the mediocre gameplay and lack of
character development in the story, you can feel the love and attention to detail shine
through to help create something a little better than its separate features might suggest. Sure, having the Star Wars name attached certainly
helps, but before EA bought the license, there were a lot of Star Wars games and they certainly
weren’t all good or loved by fans. In some ways, The Force Unleashed reminds
me of the first Witcher game. It’s rough as hell to play, but beneath
the surface there’s that extra level of care that comes from people who love the source
material. That doesn’t turn a bad game into a good
one, but it can turn a mediocre and otherwise forgettable game, into one that people still
talk about fondly more than a decade later. And then there’s the sequel. Coming two years later in 2010, there’s
no denying that improvements were necessary to the combat system and game engine to, if
not match games like God of War 3 and Red Dead Redemption, then to at least close the
gap a bit. And the gameplay did improve. Where I described the first game as rough,
the second is smooth. Things largely work as intended now. Combat is fast and fluid, the camera is adequate,
and the lock on works properly. It’s immediately satisfying and requires
little skill to look good. Whereas I gave up on using the force to throw
items at enemies in the first game, here I could do it easily. The game gets out of its own way and uses
a bit of common sense when interpreting what it is you want to do. You now have a more generous force meter as
well, so you can throw things around until your heart’s content. It’s a lot of fun. The first game wanted to be Devil May Cry,
but that’s a high bar. Not many games capture what makes Devil May
Cry special, including some of the Devil May Cry games themselves. You have to work hard to look good playing
Devil May Cry. God of War is more of a spectacle fighter. It’s designed to create euphoria from the
moment you start playing and that part is easy enough to replicate. There’s a bit of an Arkham Asylum influence
here as well, as there was with every game from this time period. Enemy types are easy to distinguish, with
each requiring particular tactics to take down. Jetpack stormtroopers don’t like it when
you use your force lightning to blow the circuits in the jetpacks for example. Sith Acolyte are invulnerable to force powers,
so you’ll need to use your lightsabers when you fight them, and yes, that’s lightsabers
plural. You have two now. It is a sequel after all. Saber Guards are, as the name suggests, enemies
that block all your lightsaber attacks so you have to use force powers. You get the drift. This all builds towards a system that is insanely
fun to play with…for an hour. After that you’ve pretty much seen all the
game has to offer. Whereas the first game had a lot of different
enemy types, even if they didn’t require special tactics to take down, the sequel has
shocking few enemies, and with such obvious weaknesses, playing the game becomes mindless. The first game used Devil May Cry as inspiration
and was unable to capture what made that series so special. Well, it turns out copying Arkham Asylum and
God of War isn’t that easy either. Take those enemies with the specific weaknesses. Arkham Asylum did this a lot as well. New enemy types were constantly popping up
and you had to rethink your tactics when fighting them to counter their abilities, such as having
to stun them first before attacking. The difference in The Force Unleashed 2 is
that the enemies with particular strengths, such as blocking lightsaber attacks, also
have glaring weaknesses. In fact, you don’t so much think of them
as having a strength, so much as having a huge weakness. You don’t need to rethink your tactics;
you just need to use the right attack type on particular enemies. I was always using a mixture of lightsaber
attacks and force powers, so it was no problem for me to target the correct attack on certain
enemy types. Hitting jetpack stormtroopers with lightning
is a hell of a lot easier than jumping and swinging with the lightsaber anyway, so this
is more a case of an enemy type being especially weak to the one attack that you actually want
to use. Using the force repulse move to kill spiders
coming at you in large numbers is easier than trying to kill them all one by one anyway,
and they make it easy by surrounding you first. The enemies in Arkham Asylum that need to
be stunned first add an extra step into proceedings. The stun requirement is more work and therefore
more of a challenge. In this game, the weaknesses just make another
option more obvious. There aren’t any steps added. Ironically, the improvements to the issues
that bugged me in the first game are partly responsible for this one being too easy. For example, the force grip now works incredibly
well. If you want to grab something, chances are
you will actually grab the thing you were aiming for. When you want to throw it, chances are you
will throw it in the intended direction. I suspect the game is cheating a bit behind
the scenes so that even if you aim in the wrong direction, it covers for you and does
what it thinks you want to do. Games do this all the time and I’m fine
with it when it feels this good. Unfortunately, there isn’t anything to counter
how much easier this now useful force power makes the game overall. Starkiller also has special grab moves that
take you out of the action for a few seconds to play out this animation. These moves were probably intended to kickstart
combos. One of them even leaves you both in the air
so that you can get an aerial combo going. However, I don’t think these moves were
thought through all that well. Not only are you invincible during the animation,
the enemy always ends up on the floor if you don’t attack in the air which means Starkiller
can perform an execution. There’s no limit on how often you can use
this move either, so if you want, you can just walk up to every enemy, initiate the
grab, and then stab them on the floor. This makes a mockery of some of the more challenging
enemies. The level design also contributes to the lack
of challenge. Large chunks of the game take place on elevated
platforms of some kind, and it’s incredibly easy to push any basic minion off the edge. Occasionally, I just ran around spamming force
push to clear a path. This move doesn’t use much force power because
I guess it’s seen as a low damage move, which is technically true I guess. They say it’s not the fall that kills you,
but the ground, so yeah, I guess the force push isn’t a one hit kill button, but it
sure acts that way. Those QTEs are back and again used to finish
off the larger enemies. This time, however, the button prompts are
on the four edges of the screen depending on which button is being represented. While understand the thinking behind this,
it can be tricky to keep your eyes on the entire screen when you’re supposed to react
quickly to a random prompt. The QTEs are a touch more appropriate to what’s
happening on screen this time, such as mashing a button to push back a group of missiles,
but ultimately, you’re still just mashing a button. You can actually catch missiles in mid-flight
now and send them back where they came from or even deflect them with a well timed parry. It’s a great addition and makes fighting
the larger machines less tedious. The Force Unleashed 2 adds a new force power
called Mind Trick, which you can use to trick enemies into fighting on your side. It’s not a bad move to use when you’re
overwhelmed, but given the time it takes to do the trick and the number of enemies you
have to deal with, it doesn’t make a lot of difference. All considered, you’re almost always better
off using a different power. The upgrade tree has been greatly slimmed
down and you now acquire upgrades by spending something more akin to a currency instead
of skill points. You can still upgrade damage dealt, but most
passive bonuses have been removed, as have the combos, leaving just upgrades to force
powers to spend your points on. As with the first game, this feels like a
huge misstep because the force powers are already so strong. You can upgrade the powers so that lightning
stuns people, grip can throw more objects, push is more powerful, etc, but none of the
upgrades change the way you play the game at all. They felt like passive abilities really because
I didn’t notice the difference at all. Lightsaber combat remains largely an exercise
in button mashing. It does feel better at first due to factors
like a working lock on and parry system, and the double lightsaber set-up is fun, but it
doesn’t even pretend to incorporate player skill this time and the hit detection is still
borked. Just to show I’m not being biased, this
completely goes both ways, with enemies sometimes missing you despite swinging right through
you. The boss fights are strongly reminiscent of
those in God of War except they’re nowhere near as good. They also last longer than an extended cut
of a Hobbit movie. These things drag on far past the point where
they have worn out their welcome. Little skill is required. Most of the fights, and there are only a handful,
are glorified quick time events that require so little skill or input it can be hard to
stay focused. You fight a large Gorog over multiple stages,
starting off in a Gladiator arena, then on top of it, and eventually while falling through
the air in a fight that is reminiscent of one from the new God of War game, come to
think of it. Still, there’s no sense of danger nor any
interesting challenge, so I was praying for it to end. The worst boss fight is saved for the end
when you confront Darth Vader. You move from platform to platform, occasionally
engaging Vader in button mashing contests, while fighting off waves of clones of yourself. Vader has three health bars and the contest
lasts ridiculously long. Again, there’s no challenge as such although
you can die if you get unlucky with the location Vader decides to drop you. He likes to hang out by the edge of these
platforms so if he holds you in the air and then drops you, there’s a good chance you
will awkwardly fall off and die. If you do, you’ll have to replay a huge
chunk of the fight even though there are plenty of good moments for checkpoints to kick in
and there’s absolutely no merit in making you replay parts of the fight. Health isn’t an issue because you will constantly
get more from all the clones, so there’s no point to making you slog through parts
of the fight multiple times. It really is quite remarkable how boring a
fight with Darth Vader can end up being. So yeah, I guess Force Unleashed 2 is an example
of be careful what you wish for, because on the face of it, this combat was exactly what
I wanted from the sequel and it felt immediately satisfying, before the novelty wore off and
I realized that there was no challenge. Fighting became rote: I would see a certain
enemy and press the corresponding attack button for whatever they were weak too. It wasn’t exactly stimulating. Credit where it’s due though, because given
the unbelievably short development time, I’m amazed LucasArts managed to make any changes
to the combat system, let alone significant ones. A two year gap between games is short, but
not inherently all that unusual, however, it’s been reported that the actual development
time was a lot shorter, perhaps closer to a year. The graphical upgrade alone is miraculous
and still looks incredible now. There’s nothing dated about these visuals. The entire structure of the second game was
developed on the basis of “what unused assets are left over from the first game.” This obviously lead to the levels being rather
uninspired and short. Ridiculously short in fact. I’m one of those people who rallies against
games that are overly long for the sake of being long and I love shorter games for the
more refined experience they can offer, but that’s not the case here. The Force Unleashed 2 feels like a game that
should be around 10 to 12 hours so that players can learn new abilities and become increasingly
powerful and adept, not to mention experience an engaging story, and yet my playthrough
came in at under 5 hours. And that’s not me rushing by any stretch. I even got stuck in a few spots and had to
repeat content due to the game crashing. Remarkably, the game even manages to feel
padded out at that short runtime. For example, while in the first game you could
force push doors open quickly, the sequel often makes you slowly pull them open instead. It also uses large empty rooms for combat
and then splits them up into sections for you to work your way through one at a time
killing waves of enemies. It’s the dictionary definition of uninspired. A short game might at least offer some replay
value, but I don’t see any here of note. You’ll probably get all the powers you need
in one playthrough and given the lack of challenge on offer there’s really no point in playing
twice. The length and lack of challenge go hand in
hand. Presumably, if the game had been double the
length or more, Lucas Arts could have introduced new abilities such as mind control and the
ability to send bolts of lightning down your lightsaber a bit later on, and had progression
be more meaningful. Instead, there’s no time for that, so you’re
basically given it all off the bat and told to go nuts. The development time limitation is also not
conducive to good storytelling. I’ve long moaned about the tendency in the
video game industry to not get writers involved earlier, resulting in game designers crafting
the story beats, locations, and major battles, and leaving the writers to link it all together
at the end. The first Force Unleashed game didn’t do
that. Blackman had 18 months to work on the story. He was able to partake in auditions for the
voice actors, hear early drafts of the recordings, and suggest changes as the game came together. For the sequel, that 18 month time frame was
reduced to 3 weeks. I’m going to discuss the story shortly,
and like many of you, I think it’s a bit of a disaster, but as I critique it, always
bear in mind that this was made in three weeks. Not only that, it was made in 3 weeks with
the full knowledge that it would need to recycle the same characters and locations. Blackman didn’t even want to tell another
story about Starkiller. Starkiller’s story had finished. The original plan for the sequel was to have
Yoda as the protagonist which would have been so damn perfect. Logistically, this might have been tricky. For example, Yoda would have to move fairly
quickly to keep up with human-sized enemies which would mean those little legs of his
would be a blur, but still, it could have been cool. Instead we got a clone of Starkiller. Maybe. He’s presented as a clone at the start,
with Vader growing a bunch of Starkillers until he can get one that is obedient enough. Skipping to the end quickly, I don’t think
Starkiller is a clone. I think Vader somehow brought him back to
life after the events of the first game and is using him as the basis for more clones
but he hasn’t yet mastered the process. We see at the end how Vader is growing a lot
of clones but they are all a little mad and nowhere near as powerful as our Starkiller. Kota also points out later on that it is impossible
to clone jedi. This point is really hammered home in the
book with a discussion of previous attempts by the Kaminoans to clone Jedi and how those
attempts all ended in failure, even though kaminoans are the experts at cloning. Broadly, the overarching story of The Force
Unleashed 2 is significantly less interesting than that of the first. It’s essentially just a hunt for Juno, although
that does happen to coincide with some major goals for the rebellion, such as capturing
Darth Vader. Starkiller starts off conflicted, not really
remembering his prior life, which is supposedly a result of the cloning process. Vader puts him through a test to see if he
is ready, but Starkiller fails when it comes to killing a projection of Juno. He is consumed by a desire to be reunited
with her, so he flees Kamino in a fast-paced and fairly enjoyable escape scene, and ends
up following a lead to Kota who he believes may know where Juno is. You join forces with Kota to fight that huge
Gorog. While I don’t like the fight as a whole,
I do like the gorog’s entrance which does a good job establishing the sheer enormity
of the thing. After they escape, Starkiller decides the
next step should be a trip to Dagobah because Kota offhandedly mentioned it and for some
reason it stuck in Starkiller’s mind. That’s the force for you, I guess. On Dagobah, he of course meets Yoda and has
a vision similar to Luke’s where he sees Juno standing on the bridge of the Salvation
which is then attacked. Kota and Starkiller head to the Salvation,
but they’re too late. Juno is captured by Boba Fett and taken away
on Slave I. They do, however, find a restored version
of PROXY. There’s another silly boss fight here against
a large machine where you need to remove a bunch of power cells from the wall before
you can get some attacks in, and then for some reason, you need to put them back in
again. Anyway, the Salvation arrives at Kamino where
it was heading as part of a large rebel attack, however, the battle does not go well because
the rebels can’t get passed the planet’s defenses. The only way to take out the shields is to
fly the Salvation into the shield generator, which Starkiller does using the force, jumping
out of the ship at the last second. These little freefall moments are repeated
way too often. While it can be fun to switch your brain off
every now and again and let events wash over you, like you need to do when watching The
Rise of Skywalker, by the time you’ve done this three or four times, the novelty has
well and truly worn off. Once on kamino, Starkiller is confronted by
all those inferior clones of himself and eventually fights Vader. During the final phase of this fight, Starkiller
activates his force rage ability which was the first time I had actually used it after
the tutorial. I’d completely forgotten all about it because
the game was so easy. You don’t need it for the fights against
minions and the big boss battles tend to be done in strict phases, so going all supernova
doesn’t help a lot. This scene is equal parts spectacular and
messy. Once again there’s no skill involved and
the camera and frame rate struggle to keep up with the action, but given the title of
the game, it’s appropriate to end with the force being unleashed in such spectacular
fashion. Vader gets the upper-hand and demands that
Starkiller kill Kota in order to save Juno’s life. Juno is able to break free and attacks Vader,
but he reacts in time to fling her away. The distraction is enough for Starkiller to
take control and defeat Vader. Kota stops Starkiller from delivering the
final blow, stating that Vader is more valuable as a prisoner than dead. At this point you have a choice, although
it’s nowhere near as meaningful as the one in the last game. The non-canon ending sees Starkiller try to
kill Vader but one of the clones kills Starkiller first. The canon ending sees you spare Vader and
take him captive. It’s an incredibly disappointing story on
nearly every level. The ending is nowhere near as impactful for
a start. Whereas the first game ended definitively
and in keeping with canon as Starkiller died to inspire the rebellion, the second game
has an open ending and not an especially interesting one. We know that Vader escapes and presumably
it’s Boba Fett who frees him since we see him hanging around at the end. Vader in captivity can’t really play out
in any way that builds on the original stories either. In fact, he needs to be released quickly because
the events of the first film are not far off. This makes the events of this game largely
pointless. There also isn’t much of a character arc
for anyone of note. Starkiller changes ever so slightly as he
confronts the possibility he’s a clone and what that means, plus he ultimately decides
to work for the rebellion whereas during the game he made a point of saying he was only
working with them to the extent it furthered his goal of saving Juno. This is a character arc, but that doesn’t
make it inherently interesting. We saw a similar problem with Finn in The
Last Jedi. People use this arc to defend his role in
the movie and it’s true, this is an arc, but that doesn’t make it entertaining to
watch. Having an arc be a character going from “I
want no part of the resistance” to “I will join the resistance” is perfectly legitimate,
but if you have the character work with the resistance for an entire movie, or game in
this case, it becomes a lot harder to sell this again as an arc that viewers will care
about a second time. I could talk about why The Last Jedi is a
bad movie all day, but I’ll end it there. I don’t really want to add to the vitriol
around characters like Rose when the actor playing her has already been hounded off social
media. It should be possible to critique the movie
and the characters without things getting personal, but ultimately, in the case of The
Last Jedi, the two things are practically inseparable at this point. Anyway, back to The Force Unleashed 2. Juno isn’t involved much despite being Starkiller’s
main motivation. For around half of the game she is in places
unknown and then once Starkiller locates her, she gets kidnapped and has to be rescued. This is when the tie-in novels really come
into their own, because in the book for the second game, Juno has a huge role in bringing
the rebels together and getting a fleet of ships large enough to attack Kamino in the
first place. She plays a diplomat role of sorts, similar
to Princess Leia. She visits the homeworld of the Mon Calmari
to recruit Ackbar into the Alliance and even stages an attempted kidnap of Grand Moff Tarkin. I guess Sean Williams was given license to
go nuts on this novel due to the lack of story on offer in the game and he came up with something
special. The fact that the story can progress naturally
instead of having 90% of it be a description of Starkiller walking through levels and killing
things sure helps. What works as a game doesn’t always work
as a novel and the first book was at times a tedious and dry experience. The second novel proves the opposite: what
doesn’t work as a game can work as a novel. Starkiller still isn’t especially interesting
but Juno’s character development makes for a decent read and the book manages to stand
alone as an interesting story in its own right. If you haven’t played the second game and
just want to experience the story, I would actually recommend reading the book over playing
the game. Clearly, the complete story of Force Unleashed
was never finished and now likely never will be, barring a huge about-turn from Disney. It is a shame that LucasArts never got to
finish what it started. The first game had a decent story but was
awkward as hell to play. The second game made huge leaps forward in
the gameplay, but didn’t have the time to build a complete game around those new mechanics
or implement a good story. As I stated earlier, I would have preferred
to get a Force Unleashed 3 over Jedi Fallen Order, although the plans for a third game
were a little uninspired. LucasArts wanted to make the third game more
expansive, with perhaps an open world, and had ideas for co-op gameplay that would have
fit nicely into the proposed story which saw Starkiller team up with Vader, and actually
fight alongside him this time, to take down the Emperor. Frankly, this sounds horrendous, although
the game never got out of the early concept design phase so it’s not worth dwelling
on. Assuming we were to play as Starkiller again,
I would have liked to see him deal with a different threat entirely, like maybe tracking
down Darth Maul or someone like Thrawn. I suppose when I say I want a Force Unleashed
3, what I’m really saying is I want another game in the style of Force Unleashed as opposed
to what we got with Jedi Fallen Order. I want a game that lets me unleash the power
of the force instead of reluctantly giving me force powers and then holding back in every
possible way. Respawn felt burdened by the force and ended
up using it largely as a gimmick for its metroidvania elements. The force can, and should, let the player
do so much more than pull a rope towards you or hold a platform in place. Jedi Fallen Order played things so unbelievably
safe that it ended up feeling like a missed opportunity. Yes, it plays a hell of a lot better than
The Force Unleashed, especially the first one, but it feels so utterly forgettable. I didn’t record much footage from my initial
playthrough so I’m going to have to go back and play it some more to grab relevant footage,
but I absolutely can’t be bothered. It’s so incredibly… okay. My time with Jedi Fallen Order made me want
to go back to the Force Unleashed, a game I remembered fondly from over ten years ago. I cannot for one second imagine playing a
game in 2030 and being inspired to go back and make a video on Jedi Fallen Order. I don’t even want to make one on it now. It’s too bland. The Force Unleashed could be a chore to play
at times, but you could never use the word bland to describe the experience. I hope whoever makes the next big Star Wars
game that sees you play as a force-user, actually wants to make a game about a force-user and
doesn’t just do it because that’s the corporate mandate. Hell, there’s no need to have force users
at all. A lot of Star Wars stories outside the movies
are centered around non-force users and I think the cancelled 1313 was going in that
direction. All I ask is that if you do play as a force-user,
have them actually use the force in fun ways; not as glorified keys to access new areas. Or maybe instead of making an all out action
game, EA makes a Star Wars RPG like Knights of the Old Republic. Please EA. Not Bioware though. Ta. Alright, that’s it from me today. If you’ve enjoyed this video and would like
to see more Star Wars content then please hit like, subscribe, and share the video where
appropriate. As I mentioned earlier, it would be cool to
see people discuss their favorite Star Wars stories outside of the movies, regardless
of whether those stories are official canon or not. Let’s have the comments be one big list
of stories for people to explore if they are disenchanted with the new movies, and let’s
face it, most of us are at this point. The next video should be another Isometric
CRPG video. It won’t be the normal style though. Instead of covering one game in detail, I’m
going to cover a couple of games in slightly less detail and talk about the Dark Ages of
isometric CRPGs. After that, there will be more Splinter Cell,
and assuming all goes to plan, The Witcher 3. Okay, thanks for watching. Until next time. Cheers.

100 thoughts on “Unleashing the Power of the Force | A Critique of Star Wars: Force Unleashed 1 & 2

  1. So, what Star Wars stories do you recommend people read, play, or watch?

    I think it depends slightly on what your favorite era of Star Wars is. If you’re a prequel guy, then you should read some of the excellent James Luceno books such as Darth Plagueis, The Rise of Darth Vader, and Labyrinth of Evil (all Legends stories). If you’re a Clone Wars fan, then I highly recommend Dark Disciple (canon). For the original trilogy, you really should check out the Thrawn trilogy and the Jedi Academy trilogy that follow Luke and co after the main trilogy (Legends), but I also recommend new books like Tarkin (canon).

    If you liked Knight of the Old Republic, then check out The Old Republic books starting with Revan (written by Drew Karpyshyn, the guy behind Mass Effect). Many of the comics are great and they are available on Marvel Unlimited (a subscription service). I think the service is quite good value anyway, but even if you don’t maintain a subscription, you can dive in quite cheap for one month and read hundreds of new canon Star Wars stories. The main Star Wars comic is good, as is Darth Vader and Doctor Aphra, so maybe start with those.

    Alright, what have I missed?

  2. Why you have such a shallow and superficial perceptive of the Sequels Star Wars movies when you recommend stories with a huge more amount of context and world building? Saying that Abrams introduced mysteries is an insult to creative writing, because Force Awakens have less than the bare minimum of world building and context, and Johnson only continue with the issue, I am sorry that your dear Luke have die, but that is the lesser of the problems of this Sequels have.

  3. Very interesting video Chris, ty for it. The Force Unleashed was one of those games I looked at in the store as a kid and was kinda like "ehhhh", so I never really knew what it was about, but it seems super interesting!

  4. I want another game like republic commando game where the later half involves exterminating jedi during order 66 and shows the conversion from clones to storm troopers.

  5. Bane is one of the greatest Star Wars books imo. Plagueis is great but if political stuff bores you in star wars it may drag at times.

  6. The Republic Commando books are probably my favorite and would certainly recommend them, if you're into Clone Wars content it's perfect for you. Even if you're not into Clone Wars that much I think the Mandalorian culture/society explored in the books is just as enjoyable.

  7. Quick question, I just want your opinion. Some people say that Finn in the Last Jedi was only fighting to save Rey but in the Last Jedi learns to fight for the resistance and that's what makes his arc different. What do you think bro? Cool video.

  8. As someone who has only played the Wii version of the first game, I think the controls are above average for Wii standards. Generic waggling is part of the game for the most basic parts of combat, but most of the force powers have unique movements. Here's a list of some of my favorites (from what I can remember, haven't played this game in like 7 years).
    Holding someone in the air and then force choking them requires you to hold Z and hold the nunchuk upside down with the Z button facing you (which apparently you can't do in the other versions so honestly I feel sad for you). From this position you can also swing the nunchuk straight down to slam them into the ground.
    Holding the Wii remote sideways with the buttons facing you while holding the A button blocks (so it's like how you'd actually hold the lightsaber when blocking), and from this position if you swing forward/outward you can throw the lightsaber.
    The big whirlwind explosion attack where you sort of vacuum enemies towards yourself and then blast them all away makes you hold down four buttons at once (to charge up) and then release by swinging your arms down really hard (no joke it doesn't work unless you break your forearms, but the effort matches the strength of the move so it's cool).
    Force pushes and all their variations make you stab the nunchuk forward.
    One of my favorite combos was to grab someone with the force, choke them, then while doing that throw the lightsaber into their chest, and either slam them into the ground or force push them into some other enemies and send a force lightning shockwave after them.
    Maybe I have my own nostalgia glasses on but honestly this stuff was awesome when I was a kid and made me really feel like bat–I mean star man–killer.

  9. 6:40
    Yes, it would have been possible to develop new movies without alienating everyone. Simply start after the Yuuzhang Ving war in 45-50 ABY.
    That way we could have had new stories with Jaina Solo, Alanna Solo and Ben Skywalker without EU being non canon.
    Or they could have gone even further to 140 ABY and have we stories with Ania Solo and Cade Skywalker.
    That way the movies could have featured new characters who still have a connection with the old heroes but there wouldn’t have been any restrictions on where they could go from there.
    As to contradictions in the EU. That was never much of a problem before. Any stories that were way too silly could be ignored and they wouldn’t be mentioned in later entries anyway.
    And I think Disney already has the same problem.
    The fart wedding happened in a young readers book but in the comic there were no farts in the wedding. So what’s canon now?

  10. The game is easy? Try playing it on harder difficulties like hard or unleashed and you will totally retract from your arguments, which makes your point about difficulty for most of the critique invalid since you probably played on easy or normal.

  11. The Wii version of TFU was great actually. What it lacked in terms of technical capabilities it made up for in a much larger pool of force power combos like combining push and lightning to make a lightning ball combo. And the Wii controls were pretty solid, nothing tedious or sloppy in terms of how the player character feels.

  12. Two games are completely different genres Fallen order is more like a platformer Tomb Raider Style game play some light Dark Souls like fighting well the Force Unleashed just mortise a simple hack and slash game two games of two different stories in two different years and definitely in different timelines her name is like Perrin water to milk

  13. Last Jedi is my favourite of the new ones, it was able to surprise and that's rare. Complaints about changing the light speed rules are laughable, this is Star Wars where ships fly like WW2 fighters but in space… Even though at the time there were films like Alien which showed how it really works. So it is a franchise built on silly ideas another one doesn't matter.

  14. Halfway through the video I realised he is holding the sword backwards… Why? It is so impractical and looks just silly, that must break immersion.

  15. I was never a fan of how these games overemphasized the force abilities over lightsaber combat and Starkiller is kind of boring. I haven’t played them, but from what I heard the Jedi Knight and Academy games tend to strike a good balance.

    I love almost everything about Jedi Fallen Order and I don’t really mind how it tries to stay relatively consistent with the OT. The old EU and games did go overboard several times.

  16. Star Wars: X-wing series by Michael A. Stackpole and Aaron Allston is one of my favorites from the expanded universe and I always thought this would translate to TV or film pretty well.

  17. The Lady Jedi was the only good part of the new trilogy imo.

    7 was just a remake of 4 with some stupid mystery boxes. 9 stuck to the intertextual and obvious so hard that it's not even worth watching after the reveal that Palpatine is going to be back; whatever movie fans had imagined was probably better.

    Only 8 managed to give actual humanity to the characters and bring up how being a hero isn't about constant winning. It also made it clear why the Star War had to actually end, because it was enabling the return of slavery and a vile plutocratic class.

  18. I really don't get why you decided to do this game. I liked your initial commentary on that new Star Wars game whose name escapes me. I appreciated your honest take on The Outer Worlds, though I haven't seen anyone, yourself included, talk about the rampant social engineering agenda going on in that game. It's disappointing.

  19. Force unleashed is like Rogue One
    Jedi Fallen Order is like Solo
    I’ve only played the Force Unleashed but Solo is better than Rogue One so I should play it if it’s that good

  20. The only good and revolutionary ai I've ever seen in a game that trully impressed me to even till today is the first F.E.A.R. i can trully tell those soliders are really trying to kill me and live. And that they can trully think for their selves

  21. I love fallen order and force unleashed both for different reasons

    Fallen order is a game that makes me feel like a Jedi padawan reconnecting with the force. It tells a decent enough story and let’s be real here 40% of people bought the game so they could build there own lightsaber

    Force unleashed is a game that makes me feel like everyone is my bitch

  22. Honestly, the most interesting parts in SWJFO were the glitches. I kept waiting for cool force powers but they never came, I guess they needed to leave 66% of ideas for the sequels.

  23. It's weird that you would say that Unleashed is more than Rogue One and Fallen Order is more like the new movies. From what I remember, the main criticism of fans towards Unleashed, way before Disney and the new movie series came along was that Starkiller is way too overpowered and that while crazy force powers are fun, it doesn't really feel like the main message of Star Wars. Because in Star Wars the force is more akin to this martial arts thing you have to train for, that you have to earn and that has this whole moral component. Which in turn reminds me a lot of the complaints against Rise of the Skywalker with people saying that Rey is just way too overpowered in there and doesn't really have to work for it.

    While Rogue one by comparison is the story that is a lot more pulled back and, like Fallen Order, tries really hard to fit into the cracks left by canon without upsetting anything.

    To me Unleashed (even if it had the blessing of George) always felt like this self indulgent self insert fanfic that very clearly did not fit into actual canon, just based on "if Starkiller was that important, how come nobody mentions him in the movies". (compared to Revan where it makes a lot more sense since his story took place a long time ago)

    Now none of this has any bearing on whether it's a fun game to play. But since you took this entire detour on what is the better was to extend Star Wars, I thought I should mention it.

  24. I have to disagree with his take on Jedi: Fallen Order I think it's one of the greatest Star Wars games ever made and easily beats out The Force Unleashed in both story and game play. I like how the the development team stayed consistent with how the force was portrayed in the movies where the Jedi weren't all powerful superheroes but used the Force sparingly and in very controlled ways. It just feels more apart of the universe (obviously the fact that Fallen Order is canon and TFU isn't helps too) Unleashed just feels like fan fiction, really good fan fiction but still none the less not an official story.

  25. 2:30 Source for the following statements: https://www.usgamer.net/articles/lucasfilm-was-hesitant-to-let-respawn-make-a-jedi-focused-star-wars-game

    Was respawn tasked with making a star wars game? Maybe.

    But they CHOSE to do a Jedi. They CHOSE to do a force wielder. Disney/LucasArts wanted them to do a bounty hunter because they hold "force Wielder's close". Respawn had to gain a good amount of trust that they would do a Jedi justice to be granted the opportunity to actually have a force user.

  26. Honestly, I think you might have unintentionally hit upon an even bigger problem with modern Star Wars that goes beyond Disney. It's that the franchise has grown so diverse, meaning completely different things to different fans, that it's literally impossible to even get anyone to agree on what the "good" ones are anymore.

    Case in point, you tried contrasting Force Unleashed and Fallen Order by comparing them Rogue One and Solo, but so far as I'm personally concerned you got those movies backwards. Granted Solo is no masterpiece, but at least it tries to have fun with the material, while Rogue One is boring garbage that only exists to fill in a non-existent "plot hole".

  27. They need to bring starkiller into a movie! Now that George Lucas is reportedly wanting star wars back, anything is possible.

  28. I played both the ps2 and PC versions. I played the ps2 one first, and the PC one disappointed me greatly (even with an fps unlocker to remove the 30fps cap).

    The ps2 version is a better ps2 game than the ps3/360/PC version is a ps3/360/PC game, if that makes any sense. Also it's longer.

  29. "…in comparison to the much looser touch taken by Lucas Arts under George Lucas." I would highly recommend Jason Schreier's "Blood, Sweat, and Pixels: The Triumphant, Turbulent Stories Behind How Video Games Are Made." The entire book is about game projects and the difficulties faced by those making them. The chapter on "Star Wars 1313" paints a very different picture of Lucas' involvement, both very controlling and rather bumbling.

  30. I cant believe you said that the ps2 version is a clearly inferior version because of lack of tech. You immediately made it obvious that the only thing you know about the ps2 version is that the graphics are worse. In my personal opinion, the ps2 version is the superior version of the game.
    For one, the graphics being a downgrade is I think the one time it has worked for a game. I think the more basic graphics look much nicer in cut scenes than the weird rubber people ones in the xb360/ps3 version. Also, the cutscenes arent pre rendered in the ps2 version which means that the lightsaber color and costume you choose will actually show up in the cutscene.
    The story is also more spread out with the jedi temple missions, which show both starkiller's growing disdain for Vader, and how Vader still uses his jedi training to train his sith apprentice. There's also an escalation of security each time starkiller shows up and they become more aggressive in the opening cutscene until the last one when no one says anything and it's just on sight when you show up AGAIN.
    The gameplay is also mostly the same apart from a few different moves, and lighting being a held thing and not a button tap. It also didn't slow you down when used. Some of the boss fights are also different, like with kazadan not having a fixed camera, and the arena having giant columns for him to hide behind and surprise attack you and disorient you.
    You also are put in his ship in between each mission to customize, upgrade, look at lore, and pick your next mission(I think they were originally going to let you replay missions at the table, because it always shows what planet you're going to but doesnt let you do anything but pick the one it chose.)
    I think that because the ps2 team had much simpler tech to work with, they could fit in more that the main team wanted to, but didn't have time, and made the ps2 version closer to the intended version.
    The Nintendo ds version is the absolute worst though, hands down.

  31. Dont see why it was necessary to shit on so much other star wars stuff constantly instead of just reviewing the games.

  32. I’d definitely recommend the Star Wars comics “Dark Empire” and “Dark Empire II” for some good old EU lore-building. There’s also “Crimson Empire” that deals with the Emperor’s Red Guards from Return of the Jedi and of course check out “Shadows of the Empire” the book of you haven’t already as it’s a great side story set inbetween Empire and Jedi.

  33. I wanted to watch this video and then I got to the bit where you said the Death Star having a weak spot was “tacky plot contrivance” and implying rogue one “fixed this” made me cringe and back out.

  34. You missing the bridge multiple times in the scrapyard spoke to me on a deeper level loool remember getting so frustrated at that exact part when I was younger

  35. Loved the analysis of The Force Unleashed, I think you were a bit unfair on Fallen Order though. For one thing, the developers have gone on record as saying that they pushed for the main character to be a jedi, against Lucasfilm who actually wanted them to make a game about a non-force wielder.

    I got the sense that you really wanted Fallen Order to be an action-centric game, where your character has a big impact on the movies. It makes sense that Fallen Order isn't the game for you: but for myself and millions of other fans, there was a lot that made the game memorable. Personally, I like that the main character is totally weak: it makes sense since he was a traumatized kid after Order 66. The game is a lot more about exploring and discovery as a result, and I like that at the end there's no magical mcguffin that sets things right. That twist feels like the kind of realization that a jedi should come to.

    Also, for me frankly the story was much more memorable, because it was less outlandish. You can see this in comparing the game's final encounter to TFU 1 or 2's final battles: you're not just spamming force powers against a helpless emperor or vader with clone backups. You feel genuinely like Darth Vader is as threatening as in the OT, and that you stand no chance.

    Still though, I agree that it would be nice to get a new action game with a powerful character in the Star Wars universe. Great video, thanks for reading!

  36. It's funny, because Fallen Order's devs WERE forced into making the game. Originally, they wanted to make more of a blaster-focused game, but someone, I don't know who, forced them to make it about Jedi.

  37. Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor is a great EU/Legends one-off story set after ROTJ – totally nails the feel of the original trilogy, and feels really great to see the original characters in a new context.

  38. You should play the ps2 version friend. I played it countless times and the physics and combat were much better than in the Ps3 version

  39. I think Force Unleashed has difficulty-select syndrome; playing on a cranked difficulty like Sith Master feels like a wholly different game, possibly because of making the game actually challenging, making more obscure abilities more necessary like rolling, grapples, leaping slash etc. to minimize the damage you take, as you'll die from a few laser shots, as opposed to say 20-40 in the regular game. The lock-on system is understated as it gives you a fairly generous side-roll that may give short invincibility, & the leaping slash move letting you travel between distant targets very quick. I basically never used Lightning Shield until Sith Master difficulty, which makes any lower difficulty seem redundant as the game just needed that slight challenge to make use of the abundant combos/powers.

  40. When the game in question is so shallow that you need to spend minutes on end ranting about Disney to make it seem worth it

  41. years ago I read the novels and played all the games on all the consoles for force unleashed. it still is today my favorite star wars content and Galen is my favorite star wars character. to this day I'm angered they left his story open ended with the sequel that has yet to receive any follow up.

  42. I like your review. It's very fair. I agree with you 95% The Star Destroyer take down is about timing you have to do it fast, or you'll be put in limbo where looks like you were. Can't be done. You have to restart you have to take it down Within. like 5 minutes oh, got to hit that sweet spot within like 4 minutes It took me a ton of tries to get that star destroyer down when that game came out.

  43. Star Wars: The Truce at Bakura. Fantastic continuation of the OT. Takes place right after ROTJ. My favorite Star Wars novel by far.

  44. Best saber combat??? You clearly never played Jedi Knight Series on PC. Which is by far best force use and saber combat game. AND had online 1vs1 battles

  45. Lol you talk so much shit. Best saber combat no. This feels like a baseball bat and not a saber. Jedi Knight games did it better and the ps2 game is actually pretty good. I'd dare say a lot more fun.

  46. I think you’re being quite harsh to fallen order to me the story was fun and the force felt connected to the overall combat unlike the force unleashed which was very separated from the lightsaber combat in conclusion I think you’re underselling fallen order a lot overall I think it’s the more polished game

  47. I honestly hated both these games. I found the combat to be dull, the environments to be pretty unmemorable and the story just plain awful. I had to go back and play jedi academy to wash the taste of them out.

  48. I can't remember what the book was but I would love to read it again, so if anyone can help me find it I would be really grateful. I think it was set between episode 1 and 2, featured details of the jedi masters being annoyed at all the droids that Anakin built out of the boredom, I'm not sure if it was the same story as another I've read but I think it was the same as them exploring force levitation, and a planet that made spaceships out of natural resources by using the force I think

  49. Also my favourite thing to have come out of TFU was the Lego set of Starkiller's ship that I got when I was younger

  50. "Tacky plot hole."
    Plug all the vents on your PC, try running it for a while, then tell me how much of a plothole the Death Star having an exhaust port is.

  51. Thank you for this video it was incredibly enlightening. I am very familiar with the Star Fire series and the Lost Fleet series you discussed in the video. I was rereading the Lost Fleet series when I watched this video so lets discuss that for a moment.
    At time 16:30, "A very strong overtone of militarism. It openly espouses the idea that civilian entities are inferior to military ones since they don't fight. The powerful are worthiest to rule."
    This is a sentiment that is brought up in the book readily throughout the book, but what is the context of that idea. It is always proposed by the bad guys, in the hero's fleet. The main character is continuously fighting against a moral decay in the fleet, due to a 100-year long war that has seen uncounted people ground away in the horrors of war. The main character an officer from before the war is there to thematically there to remind the fleet what it has lost not just in military tactics but in obedience to elected officials, honor, duty, and commitment. This is so blatantly the subtext of the story that it is repeatedly brought up like when the main character realizes that the fleet is willing and has committed the atrocity in the name of winning the war. The main character sees as not just wrong tacitly but morally unacceptable.

    The story is about a legendary hero coming to the aid of a nation in its darkest hour, and what that would be like for the "hero" especially if that hero status were mostly concocted for propaganda reasons. It is also about the effects that war has on a nation and those that have to fight in that war, how atrocities can led to counter atrocities and the justifications people tell themselves to live with themselves. Can you find honor in military service; yes. Can you find honor in being willing to sacrifice for others; yes.

    I was stunned listening to your analysis as a whole not in anger but in confusion. How could you get the moral thematic point from something like the Lost Fleet series, which is not sutle on the point that the main character is the moral center of the story and he is extremely devoted to democracy, rule of law, and civilian oversight over the military, and find "The powerful are worthiest to rule." That viewpoint is exposed but by the bad guys. It would be like reading the communist manifesto and thinking the reason for seizing the means of production is to make a lot of money.

    The only realistic conclusion I can think of is that you went into this idea of reading military science fiction with such a strong preconceived notion that it blinded you from seeing what was actually happening in the story. So thank you for making this video that so perfectly shows what can happen when we go in with a preconceived notion we can see the literal opposite of what is happening.

    To the honor of our ancestors Althesilly out.

  52. I want that, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed becomes canon and I want the 3rd since Palpatine already pulled a whole fleet of ships with only two fingers. Starkiller had to be (no pun included) forceful while taking 1 down. Has someone NOT made a video of this? StarWars:TFU can be better if it's given importance like disney does with Marvel movies. Fight me!!!!

    By the way, play the PS2 version of Force Unleashed the first. It's way better than the remastered that you're playing

  53. Actually the wii version is the best version. Just saying. Only one you can verse friends in with a huge roster list. Im talking even legend characters.

  54. It's too bad you seem to write off the PS2/PSP/Wii version of the game as being inferior based purely on the technologies they heavily talked about being implemented in the PS3/360 version. I believe a lot of people (myself included) would consider the version for the technically inferior consoles to actually be the better game. It uses the same voice actors, actually has more voice acting, and on top of that has better pacing in the cut scenes. During development of the PS3/360 version they essentially took the voice clips for the other version and cut and pasted them in to their new cutscenes for the PS3/360 version. Due to this a lot of the cutscenes in the PS3/360 version are a lot more stilted and a little bit awkwardly paced.

    On top of that a lot of the floaty controls you seem to have issues with in the version you played aren't really present in the PS2/Wii/PSP version of the game. It's a pretty tight experience. As someone who personally played the Wii version I wouldn't say the motion controls are garbage, although they don't add anything either. Never had them ruin my experience though. Although admittedly it has been a few years since I played that specific version of the game so it might be a bit of nostalgia goggles there.

    Honestly though they shouldn't even carry the same title. They tell the (mostly) the same story, but are very different games from a level design aspect for instance.
    I hope you'll take a look at the other version of the game and be able to look past its dated graphics. I'd honestly say it is the better game when comparing the versions directly, but both are good in their own right (except the trash pc port lol).

    As a video just about the PS3/360 versions of the original game I feel you're very much on point though! Just hope you'll take a look at the other main version of the game as well 🙂

  55. As entertaining as these games were I'm glad they're not canon, Starkiller was more of a mary sue than Rey. I know it's the point of the game to be unleashing the force, but Starkiller is so overpowered it is ridiculous.

  56. I disagree heavily with this. I’ve watched the developer commentary from Respawn about making Jedi fallen order and you can’t seriously say “I have a feeling they’ve been told to make this game” without knowing the people behind the game. I hate blanket statements like this. If you followed that game’s development, you will know that they worked closely with the Lucasfilm story group in that game. Lucasfilm is very protective and stern when it comes to the force in Star Wars media. Also they are very protective when it comes to Jedi related stuff.

    The force is not a power you have. It is not a superpower. That’s never been in line with how the force has been presented. They specifically wanted to stay away form the “over gamification” and “leveling up” of the force. I find the game to be very respectful to George’s original vision of the force and how the Jedi wield it. You call it safe, I call it accurate.

    The force unleashed is silly. And when you get past the first 10 minutes of fun, it’s a ridiculous and shallow experience. The force unleashed was everything wrong with star wars legends and why people made fun of the EU back then.

    I play games like dark souls all the time, and with a star wars skin on it, Jedi Fallen order was great.

    Still it’s ridiculous for you to imply that respawn had no passion or desire to work on star wars because of how you personally perceived the game. Yikes.

  57. I largely disagree with your view of Fallen Order, but I can see why you say that. That being said, this was an interesting video on The Force Unleashed. I also remember it being really fun, and BOY was I disappointed in the second game.

  58. Who the fuck cares what's officially considered canon? How much of the currently considered Star Wars canon is worthwhile in the first place? 10%?

    In the end, Star Wars is whatever you want it to be.

  59. I hated force unleashed 2 because it largely made the ending of the forest game irrelevant and it honestly didn’t fit into canon well whatsoever.

  60. I disagree that the change from "Expanded Universe" to "Legends" really made any difference to the Star Wars Universes, and it is just people being nitpicky. The EU was never canon. Lucas himself only ever considered the Movies and the Cartoons to be canon (none of the books, comics, or other media). Things that existed outside of these could only be made canon by subsequently appearing in one of the canon media. A perfect example is the Prequel trilogy. So, anyone complaining about the EU not being canon was not paying attention in the first place.

  61. So I actually played the Wii version of TFU and from what I remember (I was probably 8 or 9 at the time) the controls were actually amazingly good and responsive. I remember comparing other games to it saying "Yeah, these are responsive, but it's nowhere near as good as TFU". This was a decade ago, so my memory may be lying to me. If I can find the copy of the game I'll update this comment.

  62. Your mistake with Fallen Order was posing it to be the spiritual successor to The Force Unleashed. Jedi, at least in popular Star Wars media, aren’t god-tier beings- there’s a reason they all died in Order 66…

    Try doing Fallen Order on Max difficultly and you’ll see the force as an essential tide turner than a tacked on half thought

    Force Unleashed is a great game too. But it’s silly to compare the two, it’s like comparing Dynasty Warriors to Dark Souls

  63. All your footage is on easy. You probably played Fallen Order on easy too. Its supposed to be a Dark Souls like game, and his powers are consistent with those shown of the characters in the star wars movies. In the movies they use the force much more sparingly than it is represented in lore. Yoda takes a minute to fix a pillar in episode 2, and anakin and obi wan don't ever pick up the droids and throw them easily. Lightsaber combat is more of a dueling combat in the movies, and fallen order is accurate to that. Force Unleashed is accurate to the old republic, and represents the kind of power that a fully unleashed anakin or a young yoda would've had, theoretically. The fans should write books themselves instead of depending on the official creative owners; the old republic story is better and more expansive than the star wars trilogy, and the prequels are better than the original trilogy too; if not as films, then for their lore.

  64. I dont remember where I read it and cant find anything to back this up, but I believe it was said somewhere that Juno and Starkiller got placed together by Vader and the Emperor because phychological profiling done on the both of them suggested there would be a strong pull of loyalty and attraction between them dispite not having much chemistry.

  65. The movie comparisons between solo and rogue one hit me like a truck, definitely using that to describe this game from now on.

  66. 45:28 or so. Vader could have just been lying. It's honestly amazing how many people seem to forget that video game characters, especially, can lie, and do so. (I know that's basically what you're saying here, but it reminded me of the more general point/pet peeve of mine.)

  67. I can confirm that lightsaver combat on TFU Wii is just waggling it about but the force powers genuinely work surprisingly well. It feels great to grab someone and do a force choke motion to break their neck.

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