***This article contains massive spoilers for both of the Star Wars: Force Unleashed games, as well as the movies “The Matrix” and “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle”. Read on at your own discretion!***
I know it’s a bit late to be writing this, seeing as this game was released seven months ago, but hey, it’s Saturday night and I have a glass full of wine, so let’s get to it!
You might not know this, but there is a lot of crap bearing the Star Wars name. I’m not saying that EVERYTHING that isn’t one of the original three films are crap, I’m just saying eighty percent of it is. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised with 2008’s video game “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed”, the Star Wars version God of War and every game that tried to rip it off. Despite following cliched action game conventions (press X over and over! Hurry!), “The Force Unleashed” explored a time in the Star Wars mythos not yet properly visited and delighted us with a decent story.
While on one of his Jedi-killing missions, Vader stumblies upon a little kid, Galen Marek, who he senses is strong in the Force. Years later, this kid has been molded into the ultimate weapon, Vader’s secret apprentice. During the course of the game, Galen falls in love with his new hot-ass pilot, Juno Eclipse, gets trained by a Jedi, kills some people, gets some two cents about the the dark side, and eventually has a change of heart, turning from bad to good.
“The Force Unleashed”‘s story is full of drama AND humor, creating that fun action/adventure spirit of the old films that a lot of take-themselves-too-seriously Star Wars materials are missing (the prequels, anyone?). At the end of the game, Galen has sacrificed his life to save his friends and the Rebelllion. In honor of the fallen warrior, the Rebels decide to use his family’s crest as the Rebel symbol. Cool beans.
After finishing “The Force Unleashed”, I didn’t really expect a sequel, but hey, this is Star Wars.
So how do you make a sequel with the main character dead at the end of the first one? That’s right, you bring them back to life, or at least claim they were never dead. I’ll allow this once in a series, because hey, at the end of “The Force Unleashed”, we weren’t sure about Starkiller’s fate. He could be alive. So Lucasfilm did the right thing and decided to bring back our favorite hero.
They just did it in the stupidest way possible.
“Here goes Nothing. . .”
In “The Force Unleashed II”, the player takes control of Starkiller’s “renegade clone”. Wait, what? Apparently in the seven months after the first game, Vader has made a trip to Kamino and started making clones of Starkiller. (Does this sound dumb to anyone else?). All right, so he’s a clone. . .not the original Starkiller.
So, before we even really start playing, we learn that this Clone has been having visions: a burning forest, a woman’s voice; all memories of the previous Starkiller. What? Can a clone have memories of the host? Does this make ANY sense to anyone? Then Clone Starkiller is told to kill some training bots, that soon assume the skins of Rebel troopers. One of the bots turns into Juno Eclipse, the original Starkiller’s foxy love interest. The Clone stops when he reaches her, unable to kill her, realizing that he, what, loves her? Isn’t he a clone? How does he know who she is? This is stupid.
Vader then explains to us that the super-accelerated cloning-technique is unstable, and that all previous Starkiller prototypes have gone bonkers in a matter of months. (Oh my god this is SO DUMB). Seeing another vision of Vader stabbing the old Starkiller on the death star, the Clone escapes Kamino in Vader’s TIE Defender. Vader gives a disappointed sigh of relief.
All right, so I’m just wondering. . .is anyone else confused at this point about the Clone? I mean, can clones have the memories of their hosts? So Starkiller really is dead? So I’m not really playing as THE Starkiller? This is dumb.
All right, so the Clone has escaped and is flying around space and the game switches to the planet Cato Nemoidia, which is actually a pretty sweet-ass-looking planet. Props to the design team, really. On this planet, a warrior is seen killing all these creatures in an arena, much to the crowd’s displeasure. This warrior is revealed to be Rahm Kota. The Baron of Cato Nemoidia (I guess), is watching the spectacle when he is told Vader is approaching the planet.
So the Baron goes to see Lord Vader, and is surprised to see, well, not Lord Vader, but Clone Starkiller. The following exchange starts:
Baron: I was expecting Lord Vader. . .
Clone Starkiller: The Jedi, where is he?
WAIT, HOLD THE FUCKING PHONE. How the fuck did this CLONE GUY know 1) WHO Rahm Kota was and 2) know WHERE he was? THAT MAKES NO SENSE. So, all we know is that a Clone of a guy somehow knows everything about his host and somehow knows where his old buddy is? Who wrote this fucking crap?
Starkiller makes it to the arena after some fights and meets up with Kota, saying, “you can sit this one out, General.” (How did he know he was a general?) After a huge fight and action sequence, Clone Starkiller and Rahm Kota escape the planet in Rahm’s (Original Starkiller’s) ship.
On the ship, Clone Starkiller goes looking for his old pilot girlfriend. He is vastly disappointed when she is not there. Rahm then explains that he doesn’t know where she is either, stating that the Rebel fleet is scattered throughout the galaxy (registered trademark of Star Wars) and that he’s lost contact. Trying to turn the conversation back to positive, Rahm suggests that this Clone rally the troops and make a big strike against the Empire. This is when the clone says:
Clone: I’m not Starkiller. I. . .I’m a clone. I was born in a vat, to take his place.
Rahm: (laughs) Is that what Vader told you?
Rahm: I, I, I don’t believe it, no one can clone Jedi, it’s never been done.
O__O Are you fucking serious right now with this shit? Why can’t you clone Jedi? WHY CAN’T YOU CLONE JEDI? GIVE ME A REASON!
This is quickly forgotten and then blah, blah, Clone Starkiller tells Rahm he needs a place to think things over and meditate. Rahm gets all flustered, saying “We’re at war and you want a quiet place to think? The Alliance will be destroyed while you’re wandering the forests of Kashyyyk or exploring the caves of Dagobah. You’ll let the galaxy die to go find yourself?”
Alright, now I got a little problem with this. As much as I hate random name-dropping in Star Wars materials, mentioning Dagobah just seems excessively dumb. Yoda went there because it’s obscure and no one’s supposed to know about it. So why the fuck does Rahm know about it? Good job, Yoda, fucking idiot.
This scene gets even worse. Rahm leaves in a huff because the Clone needs some space to think. After Rahm leaves the cockpit, the Clone goes “Dagobah. . .” and then sets a course. Are you fucking serious? “Dagobah. . .hmm. . .” Like, seriously? He says it in the way you say “Chili fries. . .hmmm” after someone says “Chili fries or onion rings both sound good.” So if Rahm had never mentioned Dagobah, Clone Starkiller would never have gone there? THAT IS SO DUMB. This is called BAD WRITING.
On Kamino, Vader makes a deal with Boba Fett to find Juno and bring her to him. Vader thinks that once he has her, Clone Starkiller will follow. Alright, that MAKES SENSE at least. While I’m usually pissed off with BOBA FETT BEING IN STAR WARS EVERYTHING, this didn’t bug me. At this time period in the Star Wars timeline, Boba Fett is an up and coming bounty hunter making a name for himself, so his inclusion in this story makes sense. Cool beans, I guess.
Clone Starkiller arrives on Dagobah and whatever. During this level, you hop around some trees and then you get a cutscene. You approach a cave and encounter YODA, who talks in that doesn’t-sound-anything-like-Yoda-Clone-Wars-cartoon voice. Starkiller enters the cave next to Yoda and sees some visions. The only important one is of him seeing Juno getting attacked on her ship. Realizing he must go to help Juno, he leaves the swamp planet of Dagobah. . . .and that’s all we get of Dagobah in the whole game. . .
Now, let me ask you, why would you shoe-horn in a 1) planet and 2) trademark character to use for LIKE TWO SECONDS? Clone Starkiller could have seen that vision of Juno anywhere, not on some random planet he went to off a random mention by his friend. What the fuck? It is so frustrating to see narrative suffer just so they can include these little things that will make fans jittery with excitement. And what the fuck? If this kid’s a Jedi, and Yoda’s a master, and HE MET HIM, why didn’t Yoda just train Clone Starkiller instead of waiting for Luke? This is so stupid!
Alright, so with this information in tow, Clone Starkiller takes his ship and goes to find Juno’s ship (WHICH HE SAID EARLIER THEY COULDN’T FIND). Starkiller is surprised to Juno’s ship is not yet under attack. Rahm Kota (who is all of the sudden there again) explains that “a powerful glimpse of the future like you experienced is rarely wrong. And if that comes to pass, you’ll be glad you picked me up on Malastare”. *shaking head* Who the fuck says “Glad you picked me up on Malastare?” Oh, it’s so we know how he suddenly came into the story again. This is also known as BAD WRITING. Why didn’t Rahm just go to Dagobah with Starkiller? URGGH!
So, Rahm and Clone Starkiller get aboard the ship to try and save Juno, and instead of getting on the intercom and saying “I’M A FUCKING JEDI AND I SAW A VISION OF THIS PLACE BEING ATTACKED!”, they don’t do shit. Then, the ship really DOES come under attack. Good job, idiots! In the ensuing battle, Clone Starkiller fails to save Juno, who is taken away by Boba Fett, and is bummed out about it.
Alright, stay with me people, I know, it’s getting pretty grueling. After their failed rescue of Juno, Clone Starkiller, Rahm and the others decided to attack Kamino to destroy the Cloning facilities and save Juno. The Empire is expecting them (of course) and a battle ensues with the Empire kicking Rebel ass.
Now, what follows is actually something I liked in the game. Even though this story is STUPID AS HELL, one could appreciate the following scene. During the battle, the main Rebel ship takes so much damage that it crashes toward the planet, which Clone Starkiller uses to ride to the planet below. A video of this is pasted below:
You have to admit that’s pretty cool.
Now it’s time for the final duel with Vader. While going into the battle, Clone Starkiller hears visions of Rahm calling him a puppett and Juno calling him a “monster.” Trudging through such visions, Clone Starkiller finally meets Vader and fights him. The fight goes on for ever and ever, and blah blah blah, it comes to the point where Vader is choking Juno with the Force, telling Clone Starkiller to turn to the dark side. Anakin, I mean, Clone Starkiller, bows down to Vader to save his woman’s life, dropping a lightsaber near her. Vader instructs Clone-boy to do a whole bunch of evil shit, lest his woman die. While Vader says all this, Juno grabs the wayward lightsaber, ignites it, and attacks Vader. She misses him because he’s STANDING RIGHT THERE. Vader, not one to suffer fools, force pushes her away onto an electrified platform. Thinking she’s dead, Clone Starkiller attacks Vader again (god this is exhausting). Clone Starkiller defeats Vader, and just as he’s about to kill him, Rahm comes running up, yelling “Wait!”
Fucking A. Rahm suggests that they don’t kill Vader, not yet, not until he’s given the Empire’s secrets. How fucking dumb are these fucking characters? They lead a full-scale attack on a planet, end up destroying all the enemies and getting the leader, and they don’t kill him? The war could be over now! RRRRR!
Anyway, Clone Starkiller wants to kill Vader anyway. Rahm then says that Vader is the only one who knows if the real Starkiller really survived or not, and for this reason he should be kept alive? So, the real Starkiller might be alive? What the fuck?! So you might have the real Starkiller AND a Clone with all the same feelings and thoughts and past as him? What if the real Starkiller comes back and wants Juno? What about the Clone? Would they clone Juno for him, too? Would their be some sort of fan-fiction-esque threesome. Fucking A.
Ok. . .so. . .now, as with any Jedi game, there are two endings. I’ll go over the “light side” ending first, because it’s slightly less stupid of the two. In this ending, Clone Starkiller lets Vader be captured instead of killed. Vader is detained in a ship and is to be brought to some Rebel HQ for questioning. Princess Leia’s hologram digs this idea. After talking some shit to the enslaved Vader, Clone Starkiller and Juno go off in their ship, but not without Boba Fett following them! OMG! Fucking A. . .just stop.
Alright, I’m fucking tired now. Here’s the dark side ending, which you recieve if you choose to kill Vader: Clone Starkiller raises up his lightsaber to strike down Vader, only to have his chest pierced by a cloaked figure’s red saber. Rahm, angry this cloaked bro has slain a friend of his, rushes the man, but is eventually thrown off the Kamino-platform to the waters below.
As Clone Starkiller lay dying, Vader and the hooded figure come up to him. Vader says “I lied when I told you the cloning process had been perfected.” This is when the hooded figure pulls back his hood to reveal himself as. . .ANOTHER FUCKIN’ CLONE OF STARKILLER, just an evil one. . .
. . .that’s it, I’m going to bed. I’ll continue the rest of this tomorrow. . .fuck this.
Alright, I’m back and refreshed. I know that the dark side ending is not the canon ending, but how many times are we going to use a Clone as a plot device? This is beginning to feel a bit like “Mission: Impossible II”, when everyone was wearing those facemasks, sneaking around and getting things done. So the dark side ending includes perhaps the original Starkiller, then kills the Clone Starkiller, and features a dark side Clone Starkiller. Based on how many clones there are up in this shit, I wouldn’t be surprised if Vader actually wasn’t captured. Instead it’s another Starkiller Clone inside his costume!
What’s perhaps worse than this shitty, SHORT story is the novelization, of which I purchased the hardcover because I was so excited about the story. As you could guess, I was disappointed. Since “The Force Unleashed II” novelization would be like fifty pages, the author added in a whole bunch of FILLER CRAP that wasn’t featured or mentioned in the game at all. Needing to flesh out the story, the book includes a huge battle on Mon Calamari, featuring (of course) a new general named Admiral Ackbar. Knock it off with the cameos, just, please.
All clones and hosts and cameos aside, let’s take a look at the FU2’s story and see how it fails in the most fundamental way possible. I don’t know if I am blind, but I don’t think our Clone Starkiller goes through any kind of arc. In “A New Hope”, Luke went from being a little farmboy to believing in himself and destroying the Death Star. In “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle”, Harold went from being nervous about asking Maria out, to actually asking her out at the end of the film. In “The Matrix”, Neo went from being a weak computer guy to believing in himself and becomming the One. See? Characters need to CHANGE. “The Force Unleashed”s end was Galen choosing to 1) become good and 2) sacrifice his life for a greater cause. So where’s the arc in FU2? The Clone goes from being a clone and having no identity to. . .realizing it’s ok he’s a clone? This is stupid. No arc means not interesting, at least I always thought so.
A Better Take on the Story, Mayhap
Alright, I’ve been on full attack since the beginning of this article, so I’m going to provide you with my ideas about how the story could have been improved. First off, don’t make me play as a clone. Since I’ve never been a clone of anything, I can’t identify with the character. How do we, as gamers, identify with a clone of someone we liked in the last game, because the clone, although a clone, IS NOT the original person. Does that make sense? For example, what if Luke had died at the end of “A New Hope” and the one in “The Empire Strikes Back” was a clone, you think the story would have as much punch when it came to the self-searching and the ultimate revelation at Cloud City? So yea, get rid of the clone, and while we’re at it, get rid of all the clones. It’s a lame plot device that is too sci-fi for Star Wars’ space-fantasy.
Secondly, if you’re going to feature Boba Fett and Yoda in your story, you better fucking use them. I’ve said this before, but I am so tired of the random cameos that serve no purpose to the narrative. Can anyone support the arguement that this narrative did not suffer do to Clone Starkiller running off and having to see Yoda?
Why couldn’t just have a story about the Original Starkiller who has lost his memory? I know that memory loss is another cliched story device, but hey, at least it’s better than CLONING. This way, we could still connect with the character of Starkiller (because it IS him) and want him to remember who he was. This would also explain how he lost his powers and how he must learn them again. (Instead of having a clone learning them all over again.)
For example, the game could start with the body of Starkiller in a Bacta Tank on a Star Destroyer, on the way to Kamino to be cloned. Then, to Vader’s surprise, the ship is attacked by Rebels. During the attack, Starkiller could awaken and not know where he is. Vader, sensing his old apprentice is awake, hunts him down throughout the ship. General Rahm Kota could be leading the attack, and he is stunned when he sees Starkiller alive. Starkiller does not recognize him. Thrown off by the surprise, Rahm Kota and the Rebels could fail the mission and have to retreat, but with Starkiller in tow.
Starkiller could be brought back to the Rebels main base or whatever and introduced to all his old friends. He does not remember anyone, not even Juno. The Rebels and friends could tell Starkiller he was once a Jedi, although he has flashes of pain and utter destruction. He also remembers a black clad, helmeted figure.
To jog his memory, Starkiller is sent on some missions with the Rebels. Each time, Starkiller could 1) level up and 2) remember a bit more about his past.
In an attempt to draw Starkiller back, Vader hires Boba Fett to get Juno Eclipse and Rahm Kota. Since Boba is the best damn bounty hunter in the galaxy, he quickly finds them. This could open up some opportunities for some levels. Rescuing two friends on two different planets. Let’s say that Rahm Kota gets taken to PLANET 1, which I’m calling Rammfania. Here, Starkiller could learn some more powers (level up) and save Rahm. Before they escape though, Vader would confront his old apprentice. Starkiller could recognize the black clad figure as the one in his memories. See, he’s slowly starting to change.
By this point, Starkiller remembers a bit more, but not Juno and not Vader’s betrayal. Rahm and the Rebels go on a mission to rescue Juno. It is here, at the end of the game, when things look most grim for our heroes, when he finally remembers all: Vader’s betrayal, his destructive past, his love of Juno. He then takes the fight to Vader with full force. At the end of their inevitable duel, Vader can give him a choice to join the dark side, which the player can either refuse or accept. The dark side ending inclues, I don’t know, Starkiller killing everyone and being evil, and the good side ending would include him rescuing and loving Juno (like all Star Wars video-game alternate endings).
I’m not saying what I spit out above would be the BEST sequel to “The Force Unleashed”, but it sure seems a lot better than the contrived, stupid, clone-happy one that really exists.
So, what else is there left to say? “The Force Unleashed II” was a truly wasted opportunity for something great. It’s hard to write a sequel after a character is presumed dead, but bringing them back in a believable way is what writing is all about. Maybe it’s because they thought they could make money without a good story. Maybe it was written by people who love clones. Maybe it’s because one of the top development guys left three months before the game’s release. Who knows, really?
Although there’s been some rumors of an “axed” “Force Unleashed III”, I have no doubt that Starkiller will return. I can only guess that in this sequel, there will be the Clone of Starkiller, the original Starkiller who never died, and the dark side Starkiller from the dark side ending, who, although not seen in the good side ending, is still considered canon. Seeing the Original Starkiller and his Clone counterpart team up against a dark side clone would be quite disastrous and heartbreaking.
Good thing “A New Hope”, “The Empire Strikes Back”, and “Return of the Jedi” are still good.
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Rammfan is a dude with an Irish name who likes to create things (visit his super-slick website here). He has been called a film writer and a musician. He has created four full-length albums of the industrial and folk metal genres in his room. His articles have appeared on Examiner.com, WhatCulture, and Durham Today. This is a nerdy blog he pwns from time to time. He rants a lot about movies, books, and Star Wars.