Did I replay both of these games in a day just to prepare for this article? Yes. Yes, I did.
I may not be a huge gamer, playing the odd big title here and there like Uncharted, The Last of Us, and the Batman Arkham games, all of which everyone played anyway. But when it comes to Star Wars, it doesn’t matter if I’m a gamer or not. I was gonna play The Force Unleashed and I was gonna play it hard.
In the first game we play as Starkiller (which die-hard Star Wars fans may know was the original name for Luke Skywalker). After his Jedi father is killed by Vader (or is he?) as a child, Vader senses power in the boy and takes him in as his secret apprentice, turning him to the Dark Side (or does he?), giving him the important mission of creating an alliance that Vader can wipe out in one swift blow before taking down the Emperor (or will he?).
The majority of the game is spent playing as Starkiller as he hunts down and kills the remaining Jedi for Vader, jumping from planet to planet with his Imperial pilot Juno and their trusty droid sidekick Proxy. Afterwards, Starkiller uses the help of a drunk, blinded Jedi Master named Rahm Kota (who Starkiller himself blinded) to seek out various leaders from around the galaxy to help form a Rebel Alliance that Vader will then eliminate. But after various changes of heart and betrayals, Starkiller continues his mission but with genuine conviction.
It tells an interesting story and successfully bridges the gap between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars, all while centering on an interesting character who journeys through a conflicted character arc. But the selling point of this game is to play as a character who exhibits the full range of Force abilities. Through playing as Starkiller, you get to see a Jedi’s ability go beyond even what we saw in the prequels, and since he started out as Sith, you get all those nifty Sith powers like Force choke and lighting as well. With all sorts of combos and lightsaber configurations, it turns slaughtering hundreds of innocent creatures into hours of fun.
And when I say hours, I mean hours. It’s a pretty long game and with so many similar missions, some of which return to the same planet, it can start to feel a little repetitive. But the game is so fun and offers so many different worlds- some of which weren’t in the films or were only in briefly- that you don’t mind.
The events of the game, including the forming of the Rebel Alliance (which you really only get if you play the Light Side ending, not the Dark Side ending), was originally canon before the sale of Lucasfilm and the complete makeover of what is and isn’t canon anymore. Although I don’t know if the same could be said for the second game, The Force Unleashed II.
In the second game, you play as the clone (or is he) of the allegedly deceased Starkiller who was bred to continue to carry out Vader’s wishes after his rebellious assault at the end of the previous game. This game is much simpler and as a result much shorter. You start on Kamino in an escape from the cloning facility, then travel to Cato Neimoidia to rescue Kota from a gladiatorial ring in a hanging city, and then return to space above Kamino before crashing down onto the planet to rescue Juno from Vader (with a very quick stop on Dagobah where Starkiller meets Yoda and “finds himself”). There is also of course the psychological sub-plot of whether Starkiller is actually a clone or if he was revived and brainwashed by Vader in an attempt to retain control over him which helps give the game some necessary depth.
It is much shorter than the previous game and it feels much shorter, but it makes up for it with exponentially better graphics, more detail, huge action scenes, and new abilities. It could probably stand on its own pretty well due to great graphics, expansive worlds, and fun gameplay, but it works much better as an extension of the first game.
I of course played other games, namely Jedi Knight, Rogue Squadron, and LEGO Star Wars if that counts, and I dabbled in the original Battlefront games and recently played a couple hours of the new Battlefront where I concluded that ground combat is frustrating but the dog fights are fun as hell. Jakku FTW. Although with all that, I regret that I never played Knights of the Old Republic of which I heard good things.
But that’s all fine because I’ve played through Force Unleashed at least 5 or 6 times and it doesn’t get old. The gameplay and the immersive world make it a tirelessly entertaining game to play, plus the cheat code skins make the game even more irresistible. I mean, who doesn’t want to slice up Stormtroopers as Admiral Ackbar?
They may not be canon anymore, but if you haven’t played them before and you have the chance, I highly recommend it.
For more of our celebration of Star Wars as we countdown to the Force Awakens
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