Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 – The Game That Made Me Hate LucasArts

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Zack Layton "The New Hire"

If everyone remembers the first Star Wars: The Force Unleashed game, it was revolutionary. It took popular gameplay elements for its time and added their own flare within the Star Wars universe.

For the first time on the PS3 and Xbox 360, you were able to take the reins of a new character within the Star Wars universe and unleash (apologies for the word pun) massive combinations of the force on your foes.

The first game sold over seven million copies, had an incredible original story that explained underlining narrative within the original films, and it was also the fastest selling Star Wars video game ever.

We as fans finally rejoiced for having an original gaming story within the Star Wars universe and we were excited that they would hopefully be able to expand and play with more sequels and prequels within this lore.

However, thanks to LucasArts, they failed us in an incredible fashion.

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STORY

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 is the direct sequel from the original game and it continues where the story stopped in the first game. However, since the main character died at the end of the first story, LucasArts uses the “it’s a clone,” story ark to bring him back.

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The clone of Starkiller, (who himself was a secret apprentice to Darth Vader in The Force Unleashed), embarks on a quest to find his identity and to search for his love interest, Juno Eclipse.

Insert the predictable “who am I,” quest and the “am I real if I am just a clone of someone else,” existential crisis and there you go. I’ve pretty much summed up the story.

Might I also add, that the game only takes place across 5 mediocre levels/maps. It was definitely one of the shortest full priced games I have ever played.

LucasArts totally dropped the ball on originality and it felt like the writing was rushed throughout the development of the game. I honestly couldn’t believe that I was playing the sequel of a game that was probably one of my favourites of the year.

GAMEPLAY

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The gameplay of The Force Awakens 2 was definitely the saving grace of the game. Just like the first game, it’s a hack and slash type of gameplay with the opportunity of upgrading your force powers and changing your lightsaber colours.

The only issue to this was that it was too similar to the last game. All the force powers were the exact same from the first game, including the ones that you obtain when you upgrade your character further along in the story.

I would say that the one thing they did add, was the ability to use dual lightsabers which could dismember or decapitate enemies. Sure, this was fun at times, but as a long-time fan of the original game, I was really looking forward to new and powerful force moves.

I do have to say though, the boss fights were really cool. It felt like the game developers put most of their “creativity” within these scenes. The player was able to execute interesting and fun move sets and made you feel like a real badass when beating the living pulp out of Darth Vader. The issue is, the boss fights didn’t last very long as they were super easy.

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The fact that there was little to zero original material for this game or even after upgrading the powers from the last game, it just showed how little the game developers cared for this project.

LASTING THOUGHTS

The lasting impression that the first game achieved was that it made me truly feel like a bad ass Jedi warrior, able to control the force, and take down the Emperor in a single night!

The original game had an extremely memorable scene where the main character had to use the force to destroy an attacking empire spaceship, which was entering the planet, that was going to kill him and his team.

The Force Awakens 2 had zero memorable moments and the story was way too short to even reconnect with the characters once again.

I remember after beating the first game and the slow realization that they explained how the rebellion logo came to be. I was shocked to my core and it made me want to learn more about the lore and story. However, when I beat this game, I remember simply shrugging and realizing that I did not connect to the story on any emotional level.

 

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 is on my list for the worst games we’ve played, not just because of how terrible the game was, but because it was probably one of the biggest let downs I have ever experienced (pre No Man’s Sky Era).

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Fable 3 and The Story of Disappointing The Ones You Love.

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Darcy “Editor in Chief” Selke

Continuing our March foray into the worst games we’ve played, I wanted to look at one that wasn’t “bad” as much as it was “disappointing”. Disappointing was like that one word my parents always said which was worse than any punishment.

“We’re not mad, we’re just disappointed” these words encapsulate how I feel about Fable 3.

After both 1 and 2 built some solid foundations of a franchise, 3 came down and totalled it like a bully knocking down a sandcastle.

Story

This is perhaps the defining failure of the game. Fable games have never compared to the likes of Bioware games or the Uncharted series but they did a good job of creating a world you could run around and have some fun in. The first game had the whole “Hero Academy”-thing and the second actually had a pretty compelling revenge plot.

The third game starts out not bad. There’s another revenge plot mixed in with a revolution as your character leads a rebellion against your brother, the King.

This all stems from your brother being basically a giant Knob and Tyrant and abducting people, shutting down orphanages and basically just being a cartoon villain.

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Then it’s all revealed that he was only being an ass to try to protect the citizens! To raise funds against a mysterious darkness that wants to kill everything on Albion. For some reason your Brother doesn’t mention this to ANYONE except himself.

So now it’s your job to make the “tough” decisions except again the game acts like A) You’re making these decisions for fun and B) The citizens will hate you for them

As an example: one of the “tough decisions” is that to fund your defence you have to destroy the pretty lake the people like to cottage next to so that you can mine it for resources. The game acts like in any way you should be expected to NOT destroy the lake.

Put simply the game struggles with it’s own internal logic, you’re making these decisions based on trying to save more lives down the road except characters like Reaver come along and act like they’re doing it for fun.

Characters

It’s almost not even worth it but here goes:

Your brother LOOKS evil, I know that shouldn’t matter but the guy has a hooked nose, a sneering grin and looks like a childhood story villain. He’s a super big jerk to you and almost kills your romantic interest for no other reason than because he could. The game wants you to change your opinion of the guy but there’s a difference between a ruler making decisions that are unpopular but necessary and a guy who just likes being a dick. 

Your side-kick is your old Butler, played by the wonderful John Cleese (of Monty Python fame). Funny story, my Dad LOVES John Cleese so when he heard his voice while I was playing the game he actually sat and watched for a bit only to be severely disappointed with how boring a game it was.

The villain is a blob of darkness that wants to kill everyone. It’s pretty stupid that in a game that’s trying to say “hey you never know why bad people are bad” they just have this one dimensional villain with no end goal. Jack of Blades and Lucien were both good enough villains for the franchise, this is like when Spider-man went from Green Goblin and Doc Ock to Sandman…yuck.

Gameplay

Like most Fable games, it feels overly concerned with new mechanics. There’s the “Good Decision/Bad Decision” thing which is so binary that Bioware looked over and said, “hey guys maybe add some Grey once in a while.”

The idea of a game with a ticking clock element is sort of neat. You have to raise this much money in this amount of time in order to defend your people but again it sort of boils everything down to money. Like, sure people don’t like to pay taxes in the real world but when you can show them what you’re spending it on they’re at least a little less angry.

The Combat is simplistic, just like every other Fable game but that’s not a bad thing. I think the mix of sword and pistol allows for some neat fight scenes but there’s not much more to say about it.

Everything in this game can be fixed by characters explaining things. It’s like when you watch old Mystery movies and EVERYTHING can be fixed in five minutes if they had a cell phone. Except in this case the “cell phone” has been arbitrarily taken away to give you a moral dilemma.

Fable games have never been super complex but I think this was the final nail in the coffin. The franchise never really got back on track and seemed to just double down on getting rid of story, characters or anything else you expect to find in single player games.

Stray Observations

-Having a dog in a game is always nice

-Reaver is almost a completely different character in this one. I always had a soft spot for him because he was an evil jerk but like he looked cool. Now he’s some sort of weird Elton John knockoff?

-Look up Peter Molyneux’s view of Henry VIII, according to Peter, history doesn’t see Henry as that evil an guy, just a jolly chap who was quite infatuated with six women. Maybe they see him that way in England but I know we all looked down on Henry here.

-Lionhead has always been pushing the boundaries and trying new stuff, but Fable 3 was the first time the game hinted that I shouldn’t be doing side quests. I know the point they’re trying to make, “Real Monarch’s don’t go adventuring blah blah blah” but I’m playing a game I want to actually play it.

-I want to thank Zack for his article last week. He actually touched on a few serious issues like LGBTQ representation in games. Replay Value has so far been sort of silent on bigger issues like that or even Racism in gaming. I’d like to talk about this stuff more but as a white straight guy I think my voice isn’t really the one we need to hear from.

-Thanks again for reading and come back next week for our final instalment of March Malady (a name I just came up with).

Mass Effect: Andromeda – The Worst Game That You Should Play, But Not For Enjoyment

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Zack Layton "The New Hire"

As introduced by my co-worker Darcy, I am adding my thoughts to our month of the worst games that we’ve ever played.

Right off the bat, the first game that comes to mind (as I’m sure it does for many other people) is Mass Effect: Andromeda. Not only was this game the final “spit in the face” to fans, but it was also the proving point that EA will fail if they try to make narrative based games.

As a long-time fan of the series, I was shocked at how “unfinished” the game felt and it was clear that there was no love or passion blended in the game. It pretty much felt EA seeping into another series, trying to suck out all the cash possible, before it’s imminent demise. I probably put about 15 hours into the game, before I decided to stop playing it and traded it in.

STORY

Essentially, it is an action RPG and Andromeda is the fourth in the series. The player controls a character who wakes up from the Andromeda Initiative, which is a 634-year journey through space to find and populate new worlds that can sustain life.

For a Sci-Fi nerd, this story sounds like it could be a great set up right? Well, EA fails with this beautifully because they were too lazy to put real time and effort into the narrative.

There are tons of plot holes throughout the story, but one that stands out for me the most, is in the first three games, we are introduced to this enemy that “no one can escape from” and that you can’t hide from them anywhere in space. Except, we are now playing as characters who escaped them and “secretly” journeyed through space, before they attacked Earth.

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Another weak characteristic about this game is that even though we have just travelled 634 years across galaxy, there were only 1-2 new alien species. The rest were ones that we met back at our old galaxy.

It’s a shame because EA could have had a great excuse for a reboot with new characters and life, however they took the easy way out and just wanted to make another cash grab.

GAMEPLAY

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Very much like the older games, you choose either a male or a female at the start of the game and if you beat the game, you can unlock New Game+ (however, I don’t know why you would want to waste your time).

I do have to say, the action and combat has been updated, which made me enjoy the first half of my play through. Some moments really had me into the game, however once it slowed down, I started remembering the story.

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They brought back the mechanic of driving around in a Warthog halo like car, which was a once hated mechanic from the old games, with the promise of making it better for this game. Spoiler: they did not improve it at all!

END THOUGHTS

All in all, Mass Effect: Andromeda is a game with tons of empty promises. The developers promised the fans with a rich story, exciting gameplay, and new and improved mechanics. Unfortunately, what we got was an unfinished, rushed, poorly written with embarrassing dialogue game.

This was also the most bugged out game that I have ever played before, which is saying a lot because I love the Fallout and Oblivion series and they are usually plagued with bugs.

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There was one moment on a planet where if I drove close to a house, it would cause the game to freeze and shut off my PS4. Turns out, this was a bug that thousands of people faced, and we now had to wait for EA to release a patch before we could complete the game. (This took weeks for them to release and if I remember correctly, this is the reason why I stopped playing).

There were also embarrassing moments where you could tell EA was trying to diversify their characters by including LGBTQ characters but failed because they had straight writers, thinking they know their struggle. It’s games like these that make LGBTQ people not feel well represented in the industry and that needs to change.

As you can tell, I’m not a fan of EA at all. They have destroyed another beloved series of mine, but I do think people should play this game. Only for the sole reason to prove that EA shouldn’t even try narrative based games and that we need to stop buying into their empty promises.

Thank you for reading this and I will keep my fingers and toes crossed, that somehow, somewhere a new Mass Effect game is made without the help of EA.

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Bladestorm The 100 Years War: The Worst Game You’ve Never Played

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Darcy Selke “Editor in Chief”

We decided to do something a little different for the month of March. I wanted to talk about the worst games we’ve ever played.

Now “worst” game is subjective of course there are disappointing games, or games that miss their mark but Bladestorm The Hundred Years’ War was literally a game I played mouth open, aghast that anyone who calls themselves a gamer could have created this game.

I don’t know the history of the game or how it got developed so if I’m being an asshole and it turns out there’s a huge backstory behind this let me know because I’d actually be interested to know that but for now this game is the worst game I’ve ever played.

Story

It’s a “historical” re-telling of events similar to what KOEI did with the Dynasty Warriors  series, so it’s sort of an inflated account of historical events. The Black Prince is a larger than life figure, Joan of Arc is like almost magical, that sort of thing.

I won’t go in depth about the historical story because for the most part you can’t change it. The “story” of your character however is easily the most laughable part of this game. You’re a mercenary who is using the war to make your fortune. There’s barely any dialogue or back story to this, it’s very clear your character is as generic as they come.

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Pictured Hero: Mercenary Hero Guy

So the weird thing about the story isn’t that you’re a mercenary, it’s that you literally can choose which side to fight for before each battle and all the characters act like this is both normal or even weirdly…celebrated?

It’s like they forgot these mercs are killing your friends for money and everyone acts like the Mercenary is like this amazing inspiration, instead of like a cutthroat, don’t mess with me kinda guy.

I think it’s just an issue with all of these KOEI games (like Dynasty Warriors) is that like characters in war don’t seem to realise they’re in a war and not playing a game. Maybe it’s the voice acting? I can’t put my finger on it, but it comes across like they all treat war like it’s fun.

Gameplay

There’s two mechanics that define Bladestorm for me. The first being the idea of swapping between different units by joining them and controlling them like a squad. It reminded me of playing Age of Empires but in Third Person. It’s super interesting running around finding the right squad to take over but it can also be super frustrating when your stuck in a squad that’s useless.

The other annoying feature with the squad mechanic is the attack animations. It seems like for a game like this it should of been a little more action heavy, like Dynasty Warriors but instead it almost feels like an RPG. You have attacks coded to your keys but once you use them you’re just stuck there waiting while they’re on cooldown. Once you figure out a good combo you end up just running around pushing those same buttons in the exact same pattern for every fight until you swap unit types.

The second mechanic is HP. Again, this is a KOEI staple, your character starts with a full hp bar and your job is to finish the level before he dies. There’s no way to get HP back, which is silly so if you have 10% of your hp left you end up doing almost nothing because you don’t want the last 40 minutes of your life to be a waste.

Graphics and Art Style

I am not an artist, I will say that upfront, so we all know the people who worked on this game are 10x more talented than me. That being said, I found this game ugly as shit. Each map looked really similar, strongholds seemed tiny and poorly designed. Like some of the “castles” were basically just a tower that you couldn’t even enter. Then like the trees are sparse and the water looks gross. I guess in a game like this the graphics aren’t a big draw but it just felt like the french country side was bleak and desolate.

Maybe I’m not a fan of the Japanese Anime looking art and that might be colouring my perspective of the game but it just feels weird to see a name like “Maurice” and the picture is a Japanese-style-anime-looking dude. The heroes are “pretty” I don’t know it just bothers me. Then later character models/weapons start getting way more cosmopolitan, like people running around using Chinese Hook Swords and I’m pretty sure camels show up at one point?

Stray Observations

-The voice acting in these games is just brutal, I think you have to be under 16 to enjoy characters shouting this kind of crap.

-It feels like a game built around mechanics. Choosing what side you’re going to fight for, swapping between units etc. With like nothing tying this game together in any sort of narrative.

-There is something to be said for how cool it is charging or riding along with a full unit of Cavalry, I’ll give you that.

-I get that this is the time of Joan of Arc but if every battle has 6-7 female commanders in it, it makes what Joan of Arc did a little less special. Like…that’s sort of the WHOLE POINT OF HER STORY.

-I think since I’m somewhat of a European History buff I maybe take this game a little too seriously. It feels like this is an Asian game studio that made a game on a concept they knew nothing about. No disrespect, just how it feels.