Friday, August 7, 2009

The Force Unleashed

The Force Unleashed

3-2 years BBY

The Force Unleashed was groundbreaking for the GFFA when it was released in 2008. Vader had a Secret Apprentice? A plot to destroy the Emperor? It all seems to good to be true, but it is. And those of you who have played the game are aware that I left out one other especially important twist that shakes the very foundations of the Star Wars canon. Lest this blog become a giant spoiler. :D

You are "Starkiller", raised from youth as the secret apprentice of Darth Vader. Your entire life you have been trained for one purpose: to assist Vader in overthrowing the Emperor and to rule by Vader's side. Together with your crack pilot, Juno Eclipse, and your faithful (though programmed to be bent on killing you) droid, PROXY, you are tasked to hunt down Vader's Jedi enemies. Soon the day will come when your training is complete and your ultimate mission ready to be fulfilled.

There are three formats to this story: the game, the book, and the graphic novel. I will review all three somewhat separately in this blog. However, some general comments...

1. You cannot get the full effect of this story by reading/playing just one format.
2. Even for non-EU fans, this is something you don't want to miss, because it is critically important to the original trilogy.
3. My largest critique is that the different formats tell the story using different connecting plots, details, and events. This was a bit sloppy, but the essential plot points are still congruent
4. My favorite part about this story is that it does something very few stories of this era do- it tells you what the Jedi who survived Order 66 are doing. Trust me, you won't be disapointed.

First off, the story. Hayden Blackman, the visionary and the storywriter behind TFU, has created a story that never failed to blow me away at every turn. I was really excited for this game, and I wasn't let down story-wise. He managed to create a believable scenario that remained faithful to previous canon. he also tied it up nice and neat at the end, leaving very few holes that I can see thus far (stay tuned for my weekly blog to confirm this).

Perhaps my only critique of the story (and I'm not sure if this is Blackman's fault) is that both Leia and Bail Organa are identified as Senators from Alderaan. As I've read it in the EU, Bail should have stepped down by now and Leia should be the rightful senator. But as the TFU tells it, Bail is discovered as a dissident and pretty much relieved of duty, paving the way for Leia's rise. Either way, Leia is the senator of Alderaan by the end of this story.

On to the game. Put briefly- this is the best Star Wars game to date. Lucasarts really showed their merit on this one. The graphics are amazing. The scenery and levels are creative and original. This game was never boring or repetitive. However, I think the short play-through time might have something to do with that. I did leave the game wishing there was more. Also, the controls are really tough and frustrating. It's taken me 3 play-throughs to finally get the hang of it (though I do play on Sith Master difficulty). Ultimately, this game is about Starkiller's insane force powers, not his lightsaber skills.

The book adaption, written by Sean Williams, is another great read. I admit, I was originally a bit unimpressed by the first third of the book, feeling that it didn't really add much to the game. However, I was soon corrected. The middle and end of this book present the TFU story in a way that could never be matched visually. It really takes you into the mind of June Eclipse and Starkiller, and the nature of their relationship. Also, it expands on the role of Kota, who, when he joins the team, actually has no idea that Stakiller is the same person who blinded him. The book definitely offers some unique bonuses and plot points, including some extra fights with PROXY, taking on never before seen forms like Anakin Skywalker and Qui-Gon Jinn, and details such as who's lightsaber Starkiller is using and why he wears so many different outfits.

Finally, the graphic novel is a bit disappointing. The art, done by the Brian Ching team, is impressive none the less. This is the same team that does the KOTOR graphic novels, and I really like their art style. However, the graphic novel, told in a flashback fashion by a recovered PROXY, is very terse and skips a lot of important stuff (like the first Raxus Prime mission with Kazdan Paratus). Also, in this format, PROXY seems to know that Vader is Anakin, which doesn't make any sense whatsoever.

All in all, I recommend playing the game and reading the book. Skip the graphic novel unless you want to support Brian Ching and his team.


  1. Do you think that the book stands on its own as a good product? Or does the book only "work" as a supplement to the game?

    Basically, would you recommend reading the book before/without playing the game?

    And thanks for another great update. Keep 'em coming!

  2. The book can be read totally stand alone. You won't miss a beat. (Though you may miss the beatings that would be given out in the game.=p)

    I personally feel you get much more out of the story in the book than the game, so have at it! Comes out in paperback on August 25th!