Friday, October 10, 2008

The Force Unleashed - Part Two and a Half

(I'm back, baby...and I brought spoilers.)

With The Force Unleashed, Lucasarts finally tells a story worth telling for the first time in years, with some of the best cutscenes, dialog, and voice acting in a videogame to date. In its best moments, it captures the spirit of the original trilogy. The scene where Darth Vader discovers Starkiller as a child is quite possibly the most compelling moment in Star Wars since Luke went all apeshit on Darth Vader at the end of Jedi.

Forget the physics and the other technological innovations in the gameplay, Unleashed's biggest accomplishment is the level of performance Lucasarts gets out of their 3D characters. For most of the characters, the studio used the same actor for the voice and facial/ motion capture, so the characters look, move, and behave like the actors. This makes an immeasurable difference in the quality of the cutscenes.

The story is far from perfect. As I've said before, the game is far too short, and the story never gets a chance to develop properly. I want to discuss three things quickly and have this rant done with, so here goes:

1) Juno Eclipse: The game's most underdeveloped character. There's potential there, but her character is reduced to little more than standing around and being hot. She's blond, looks great in her tight Imperial hottie outfit, and has a British accent, so of course Starkiller wants to shag her, and that's all her character is good for. Her feelings on the Empire, the Rebellion, and Starkiller are never explored.

2) The Rebellion: So, the big twist in Unleashed is that the Emperor and Vader hatch up a plan to create a rebellion to draw out their enemies, to publicly brand them as traitors...and are then surprised when a formidable rebellion against the Empire is created? What the hell? There's one horrible line near the end of the game - I can't remember it exactly, but it starts with the Emperor saying, "This rebellion we've unwittingly created..."

Nope. Sorry. Sounds pretty wittingly to me.

3) Darth Vader, Starkiller, and Some Serious Daddy Damage: The twist listed above also negates the most compelling element of Unleashed: that Starkiller is basically Vader's adopted son, that Vader has used Starkiller to replace the child which he thought died with Padme. This idea is hinted at throughout the story, but never lives up to its potential - and once Starkiller finds out his true purpose, Vader's "Fooled you! Ah, what's with you, man?!" betrayal removes the idea completely from the story. What a waste.

All right, that's enough ranting and negativity. I still enjoyed the story and I still can't stop playing this damn game.

No comments: