Play Time 9h 58m
Play Time 9h 58m
It’s time to check out an old PS3 beat em up. I got this one at around the same time as Trinity so once I finished that game I knew that it was time to finally pop Genji in. Unfortunately it is nowhere near as good as Trinity. It loses in pretty much every single way. It’s not a bad game, but it does have a bunch of questionable design choices that limit the title. Depending on how the final boss battle had unfolded, this review certainly could have gotten more negative.
There are three main heroes, Yoshitsune, Benkei, and Shizuka. A cosmic entity inhabiting the body of the main villain from the first game also shows up, but he doesn’t really add anything to the story. The land is being overrun by zombies and mystical villains who can turn into vampires and other such monsters. There are even giant Crabs running around and a Kaiju. The heroes have to defend their turf and the whole world as well so they ready their swords and shields. Stopping the villains is as simple as destroying them all, but it won’t be so easy since these villains can certainly fight back. It’s essentially a war against zombies which is an interesting premise, but the characters don’t always seem to act as if they’re fighting anything supernatural. It’s just another day in Feudal Japan. (Or China. I think it’s Japan though)
Right off the bat you can tell that this plot isn’t going to be particularly exciting. The voice acting is pretty iffy and the story is only slightly better than Dynasty Warriors. The characters are as generic as can be, but don’t even have good character designs to save them. Yoshitsune is a poor man’s Sanada Yukimura. Shizuka never actually does much in the story and her health is so low in the game that you never want to actually play as her. Benkei is super powerful in combat, but I just didn’t like him either. There was no reason for the heroes to ditch him during his dramatic moment either as they should have just stayed together and fought off the villains.
While the graphics aren’t as good as Trinity, it’s not as if they’re bad either. It’s still PS3 level, it’s just that the level designs are really bland and there’s not much for the game to work with. There aren’t really even any colors throughout the game so it all appears to be rather lifeless. It doesn’t do anything to immerse you in the game. The soundtrack can also be rather annoying. I like the more atmospheric ninja themes that play during the game, but the one where the guy just keeps yelling over and over again just makes you want to turn the volume off. On a technical level, I’d say that the game was actually bad when you think about it.
Fortunately, the gameplay is what we’re here for and it’s pretty good. For an odd reason the game chose to go for a more cinematic style. This means that you fight in slow motion a lot of the time. Gradually you start to fight a little faster as the game goes on and by the end it feels pretty normal. I suppose you just get that strong by the end. There is no lock on system so sometimes you’ll find yourself randomly missing the enemy but you’ll adapt to this by the time you complete the game. Each character has a final smash attack which stops time and lets you unleash a flurry of attacks. It’s a lengthy quick time event which saves you a lot of time from fighting each opponent individually. It’s immensely helpful for bosses even if it can get rather repetitive.
There isn’t any replay value to be found here. No collectibles, no multiplayer, no trophies…etc. Once you complete the game you’re just going to put it down and you’ll probably never pick it up again. The game is about 10 hours long so at least it’s not too short or anything. It’s a reasonable length considering that you can pick the game up for about 5 dollars. Still, I always like to at least have some replay value at the ready.
Make sure you have some backup saves ready as you approach the end of the game. If you don’t have a lot of items or power ups at the ready for when you fight the final boss it’ll all be over for you. The final boss is basically 5 phases long and in that time there are no minions to fight so forget about getting any more EXP for your weapons. Fortunately I had saved most of my items and power ups til the climax so I was able to barely squeak by, but it does feel like a mean spirited game. The average player would have used the power ups by then since you’d assume that it’s the right move and there is no guarantee that they would save their items either. The 4th phase of the final boss is hard to even hit without the final smash since it’s limbs are so high up and the final, final boss takes a lot of dodging and tedious hit/run strategies to overcome. Ideally you want to have around 10-15 final smashes ready. A pro tip is that leveling up your Magic meter restores it completely so just don’t level it up until you’re at the boss. Then you can use the final smash, upgrade, use it again, and keep on repeating this strategy over and over again. It’s a sound plan and one that worked for me.
The part I was stuck at for the longest time was definitely a long tower level within a boat. You had to climb and jump through a bunch of obstacles. The problem is that the camera kept changing angles which made your journey that much more difficult and then falling would send you way back. You won’t fall for the same trick too many times as you’ll eventually manage to get through, but I feel like the developers just did a really bad job with the stage design and a lot of the game’s fundamentals. This game could have been so much better than it actually was. I’ll give it some kudos for the amount of cutscenes that it had though. I may not have particularly enjoyed the story, but at least it actually did have one. That’s better than nothing.
Overall, The gameplay may not have sounded great from how I described it, but it’s still a 3D beat em up. It’s fun to take on the legions of enemies and prove that you are the best fighter. The game can be rather difficult so you can’t just run into every pile of enemies and attack until they’re down. Sometimes you’ll need to lead them into traps or cross-fire between enemies. Other times you may have to retreat for a while. Be careful because save parts can be far apart so you can lose close to 20 minutes at times. The platforming in the game is also pretty rough so watch out for those sections. I think you’ll enjoy the game more if you know the tricks behind it since the game doesn’t explain it very well. Otherwise you’re in for a brutal time. Believe it or not, I recommend the game, but just be sure to take every precaution by having the backup files at the ready. It’s never too early to start saving your items either.
Play Time 24h 1m
PS3 Trophy% 38%
Areus Level 47
Dagda Level 44
Selene Level 43
Journal 58% Complete
Characters 95% Complete
Bestiary 93% Complete
Titles 25% Complete
Glossary 95% Complete
Help 97% Complete
Be warned, there are quite a lot of spoilers in this review. This game has been on the backlog for me since as long as I can remember. I always winced as I saw the low 2% trophy collection hurt my overall average. Well, I decided to finally take the plunge and finish the game. It was as great as I could have hoped although it did have an issue or two that prevented it from getting a 9. There are some artificial means that the game uses to extend the campaign, but I’ll expand more on that in a second. Lets go over the plot first.
Areus is a half elf who has a tragic past. His father was murdered and his grand father is the King of evil, Balor. Areus now lives with his mother and step brother at an abandoned cabin. He earns money by fighting in the Colosseum and he has lived out his life solely to get revenge. He figures that the best way to get revenge is to pretend to join Balor’s army and rise in rank until he has an opportunity to meet with him in person. Then Areus will take him down. Complicating matters is the fact that Areus meets up with Selene and Dagda. Both of these figures have secrets of their own, but teaming up with them will let Areus achieve his goal quicker. Areus’ best friend Dorado is also around and he’s thrilled about Areus joining the army because he’s a big fan of Balor. Areus decides to keep secrets from everyone in the meantime.
Lets start with the positives here first. The graphics are pretty solid. This game is definitely a big budget PS3 game. It spares no expense with the big cutscenes as they even have fight scenes included. It was always a lot of fun to look forward to the cinematics. The in game graphics may not be as impressive, but they are still at PS3 level. The soundtrack is also very good. It can be a little limited as the same fight theme plays for just about every boss. Fortunately it is a catchy one. We also get a lyrical song that plays during a lot of the emotional moments and that one was also handled pretty well.
The gameplay is also a lot of fun. It’s simple, but addicting as you can use many different attacks. Essentially, each move is treated like a special ability. There is no magic meter to worry about so you can use them whenever you want. You can only have 3 abilities equipped onto one menu and you can equip two menus that you shift through with R2. The actual spells you can learn are closer to 15 so you’ll have to make some choices. I played as Areus for about 90% of the game and mainly relied on his sword combos. They seemed like the best bet if you ask me, but I also really liked the fireball ability as well as the Dark Meteor. Find out which attack is best against the enemy you’re facing and then put it to good use.
It feels like a beat em up most of the time as you enter large areas and try to get to the goal while smashing as many minions as possible. I would typically avoid most of them to be honest as I dashed to the exit. If there’s a cheese strategy to be found, I’ll find it. Fighting them is pretty fun though. I just love the 3D action genre so it never gets old. That’s a good thing since the campaign is quite long. It’s a little over 20 hours and the post game content will last you for even longer than that. Getting all of the trophies should bump this up to close to 50 hours unless the grinding gets a whole lot easier all of a sudden.
You can also unleash team attacks. I recommend doing that whenever you want free hits as it doesn’t do a lot of damage, but it’ll temporarily stun the opponent. The only exception to this is the final phase of the final boss so use the tactic as much as possible until then. I’ve covered the basics of the gameplay, but play the game to really get the full picture. The characters are fairly reasonable and the plot is solid. Throw in the replay value and you can see why this game is easily 8 stars. However, it’s time to talk about the game’s limitations.
First is how long it takes for the story to really get going. I mean, it’s a bit of a staple for many RPGs to have a slow start as you get used to the characters and all. I get that, although it is possible to have a much quicker start like The Last Story, KH Chain of Memories, or World of Final Fantasy. The problem is that it feels like almost nothing has happened for the first 15 hours of the game. That’s over half of the campaign feeling like filler. It’s also not particularly good filler. The point is that you’re supposed to really get used to all of the characters and just enjoy seeing them hang out but it didn’t work well. The dreary landscape of the olden days doesn’t help with that and it’s also that the characters aren’t quite that amazing. Areus makes a ton of mistakes all of the time, Dagda’s constant laughter is incredibly annoying and Selene’s plot was basically dropped for no reason. The amount of times you have to do random quests and beat the exact same recycled boss is a bit much. Once the story actually get going it is quite engaging, but it could have sped things up a bit.
Another issue is that because of this, we didn’t get to explore the lore as much as we should have. The final act of the game actually felt a little rushed if anything. We were introduced to some of the big villains quite abruptly, like the mad scientist. He was one of the big legends, but we just walked in and destroyed him in the span of 2-3 cutscenes. Balor went down pretty quick as well. Did we need to fight Sheelah’s group 3 times when we could have fought the others more? Not dissing the Sheelah fights though as they were actually the highlights of the game. Not sure if that’s unintentionally sad though.
Selene had a big subplot where she was looking for someone and would mysteriously vanish a lot. Well, that plot was probably the most anticlimactic as it turns out her sister was a miniboss with a recycled design. You destroy her and Selene gets over it. The plot had a ton of build up and ends in an instant. Dagda is afraid of going to the arena so we take him to the arena. That plot was just boring. Finally, we have Areus and his quest for vengeance. This one confused me a bit as usually the moral is that you ultimately let go of that right? You forget about getting revenge and just think about justice. Well, the story decided not to go down that path for whatever reason. Instead, Areus went through with his revenge and paid a high price. He never had any regrets and I felt like the narrative never even tried to paint this as a bad thing. It was just a “Good for him” kind of vibe I got from the game.
There’s also the mysterious cloaked Angels who have made a pact with Balor. It’s hard to tell if they’re a fanatical group (Most likely) or actual supernatural beings who would have done something in a sequel. (This game’s actually a prequel by the way. I did not know that) Either way we will never know because they appear as minions in one brief level and then never appear again. Granted, the level was awesome and very atmospheric as we break into a church and start beating people up, but that plot line felt like it had so much potential. The story as a whole had a ton of potential and it completely squandered it.
Back to Areus, he’s an okay character but you can see why he’s not great. He talks an incredibly good game and is always overconfident, but then he ends up losing. Sheelah beat him in a fair fight multiple times which is uncanny. She just kept getting him into choke holds. She even had to save him towards the end because he has no reflexes. Areus is a bit of an embarrassment to the caricature that he is supposed to be. You can’t be the strong, hot headed rival character if you’re always losing. Don’t even get me started on his plan. As if giving Balor the strongest sword of all time that would give him immortality was ever a good idea. I don’t know what that guy is thinking sometimes.
Selene was a good main heroine. She likes insulting Areus constantly and reminding the other two that she is way older than them. One cutscene that was fun was where she woke up from her nap just to insult Areus for no good reason and then go back to sleep. Her mysterious personality also works well even if it never leads anywhere. Dagda is the strong member of the group so naturally he’s not quite as clever as the other two. My only problem with him is that he laughs nonstop and is always trying to boss Areus around even though he’s not the leader. I’m never a fan of insubordination unless the character is doing it for heroic reasons (Wolverine, Superman, Huntress) or to go all the way and become leader. (Sting) Dagda’s has no purpose. (I’m seeing a pattern here)
Dorado is the best friend of Areus, but you’d be hard pressed to guess why. Areus is always being very mean to him and lies to his face throughout the whole game. He also ends up murdering Dorado to which Dorado points out that Areus should have just told him. I do think Dorado would have teamed up with him and Areus was just being short sighted. Instead Areus waited until a point where Dorado could not refuse a fight. Is it any wonder why I don’t like Areus much? Honestly, I’m disliking him more and more as I write this review. Taking down Dorado absolutely did not need to happen.
Sheelah is one of the main supporting characters. She’s a bounty hunter who just wants to get rich, but during the game you learn more about her backstory. I don’t know if it was optional or not since during the game I had a hard time telling the sub quests apart from the main ones which is also why the game took a while. Either way she got more personality than most of the gang and I dare say that she may have been a better character than either of Areus’ companions. Her partners never really got to do anything though.
Balor is the big boss, but he barely ever gets to appear during the game. All we know is that he is smarter than Areus but that isn’t even a feat at this point. He has a pretty good design and makes for a good villain. What he lacks in dialogue he makes up for with a good boss fight. The bosses in general were a little unimaginative with the designs so Balor ranks pretty high up by default. The dragon that showed up near the end was the real hero though. He kept on saving the day and ended up being more productive than the heroes. My favorite villain though may have been the first Dark Knight. (Actually she may have been the only one since the rest couldn’t be squeezed into the game I guess) Her armored form was pretty hardcore. The crazy dual personality may have been more weird than hype, but it wasn’t all that bad.
Come to think of it, maybe the reason the game didn’t delve into almost anything was because it was a prequel. I’m still not going to let that go so easily, but at least it’s a reason. Lets talk more about the terrible plan that Areus has though. He is going to capture the heroes (We meet a legendary golden hero by the way who comes out of nowhere. I was expecting him to be a traitor right from the start but surprisingly nothing came of it. He was just a noble hero right up til the end so not bad I guess? He seems not to mind murder as his team tries to destroy us without warning when we first meet, but I’ll let that slide) Areus brings in the group and is going to stab Balor as he gives him the medal. The plan itself is pretty bad as I never like having to essentially trap your allies just for a chance, but it’s not downright terrible.
The ceremony goes as planned and then a villain runs through the doors yelling about how Areus and the others are traitors. Areus seems to go deaf and just turns to the side. I guess he figures that if he ignores the villain then it’ll all go away. Balor just tells the guy to get out and the guards grab him. Unfortunately, he breaks free from the guards multiple times and keeps on spelling things out for Balor. Areus still does nothing so Balor trolls him by taking unsheathing Areus’ sword for him. Areus seems stunned as he has basically given Balor an extra weapon now. Then they are all locked up and the dragon has to save the team again. Why is Areus such an inept main character? He just keeps outdoing himself throughout the game with this moment taking the cake.
It’s too bad that all of the hype scenes are at his expense. As I mentioned earlier, the story can be slow so I always get super hyped when something really happens. The Sheelah fights were always exciting, the brief bout with the gold hero, the dark knight, Balor, etc. It’s just that Areus looked terrible in all of those cutscenes as he apparently can’t beat anyone outside of gameplay mechanics. Even his clash against Balor naturally had him need help from everyone else. He was only able to land the big blow at the end when Balor was weaponless and literally could not move. That’s our hero for you.
I should also mention that Areus failed to save his Mom and brother when they needed him the most. I don’t know why it took him so long since he got there late, but it just reminds you that he should have told Dorado everything. I doubt Dorado would have just went over and murdered his family if he had known. At the very least if he planned to do it anyway, Areus could have taken him down there. The game can be a little overly tragic at times and I think the game could have let them live, but it was all to remind Areus that he couldn’t show mercy at the end. The game was actually kind of edgy if you think about it.
Overall, The last few paragraphs may have sounded really negative, but it’s just that Areus is easy to mock. The guy failed time and time again. I didn’t even realize that I didn’t really like the character until I began writing this review. The game is definitely a complete package of quality though. The grahpics and soundtrack are on point, the gameplay is rock solid, there is a lot of content within this title, the Platinum trophy is also attainable as long as you put in a good amount of time. It’s not an elite title, but it is a great one and I absolutely recommend checking it out. Who knows, maybe you’ll find the story as unintentionally funny as I did at times.
Play Time 6h 19m
Game Complete 64.02%
Inventory Complete 64%
Side Missions Complete 5%
Enemies Killed 396
Planes Shot Down 484
Damage Taken 468
Damage Healed 127
The first three Jak and Daxter games were pretty great so I was always looking forward to finally playing the 4th one. Unfortunately it is a noticeable step down in terms of quality and ends up feeling a lot more like a cash-in title than a main game. It’s a little disappointing although the game is still fairly decent. You’ll just keep being reminded of what it could have been.
The first warning bell is the extremely light plot. Jak and Keira are flying around when pirates shoot them down. They are led by Phoenix who apparently knows Keira from way back in the day. She decides to help him and Jak comes along for the ride even though Phoenix is really mean the whole time. One thing leads to another and the fate of the world depends on Jak stopping these other pirates from using Eco to power themselves up and destroying the world. Jak has his mastery over light and dark but his powers are still too strong so he could blow up the world if he tries anything. He’ll have to be satisfied with simply using hand to hand combat. As you can tell, the plot is extremely forgettable so I may have missed a few details and nothing happens.
The game is pretty short so you can beat it in a day or two. That being said, what will help stretch the game out is the terrible map and lack of clear directions. The symbols on the map aren’t labeled so you’ll rarely know where to go. I got lost a bunch of times and wasted quite a bit of effort not actually going anywhere. There are also not many levels, only 4-5 I think so you just keep on going back there over and over again. You can even feel how the game was originally for PSP and not PS2 because the game stops as an unskippable cutscene shows up every time a door opens. This happens for every door which really slows down the pace of the game. If it’s lagging, then you have to wait a little while for the door to open..great.
Technically the gameplay isn’t too bad. It’s the usual 3D shooter/brawler gameplay but with less of a budget than usual. Instead of the really smooth running and running from Ratchet and Clank or the older Jak games, you have a little trouble aiming and switching weapons. You only get 4 weapons I believe and while they’re all decently strong, none are amazing. Some of the enemies sure can last a bit. Fortunately you have ECO abilities like stopping time and can also upgrade everything in the menu. The combat is the game’s most impressive aspect even if it’s not amazing. I can at least get behind it and compared to even lower budgets like the M&Ms or the Ninjabread Man it is actually good.
There is naturally no real replay value to this game because if you beat the game you’ll just want to move on to a better title. If you actually do like the game then I think there are a bunch of collectibles to grab so that’s something. There’s also the Hero Mode that you’ll unlock which should really test your skills. Considering that you can get the game for a pretty cheap price, it’s all pretty reasonable if you ask me.
The graphics also aren’t bad. I’d say they look comparable to the original games. What I really can count as a big positive is the soundtrack. There are quite a few opera themes which are really good and at least make the boss fights feel more grand. It gives you something nice to listen to during some of the tougher segments of the game. Very few bits are legitimately tough as the quick time events are either too extreme or you basically have to die at least once and then allow the checkpoint to give you a quick boost by giving you back all of your health even though you’re further in.
I can’t stress enough how poorly designed some of the interactive moments are. For example, when you jump on the rocket as Daxter, you’ll end up getting shocked a lot even though you’re using L1 and R1. It’s just not good and was probably the most annoying part of the game. The background characters are also annoying with their constant yelling and you have to wonder why they were programmed to have such bad lines.
I think a big part of what hurt the game was how boring the story was. It’s quite telling that I found SpRay’s story to be more engaging. At least this one did have cutscenes though which I suppose should be an instant improvement. At the end of the day, the game is good but just barely. Watch out for the lackluster plot, the bad level designs, the broken compass, and the clunky combat system. As long as you can get past all of that, then you’ll have a good time. Also, try not to jump much since the game clearly did not know how to handle that. Even simple jumps forward end up being a lot tougher than they should be.
Overall, The Lost Frontier got lost for a reason. It’s kind of sad that the Jak series had to end on such a sad note. The first three games were just so good. This game was ambitious in its own way, but it just needed more quality control. The air levels could be fun and were actually better than the ground combat ones. They also weren’t very balanced at times, but they gave it a good attempt. Just play this game slow and steady and you’ll be okay. At least you keep your parts whenever you lose so you’ll have a lot of upgrades to buy when you land. I’d sooner recommend buying the original three, but if you already have them then you should probably buy this one. It’ll at least be good for a few hours of entertainment.
After watching the anime, I was ready to go back and finish up the Sengoku Basara game I got a very long while ago. I’m a pretty big fan of beat em ups and it’s just very satisfying to blast away whole armies. Hyrule Warriors and Gundam have done the best with the genre because the over the top special effects just make it that much more intense. Still, Sengoku knows something about that as well and its predecessor Devil Kings for the PS2 was one of the most well crafted titles in the genre. This one follows suit and is a must buy for all fans.
As with most beat em up games, you can pick whoever you want and start the story. Each story has 7 battles and there are over 10 characters to play through. I chose Yukimura’s story of course. In his story, Yukimura is now the head of the Sanada clan while his boss is injured and he decides to follow his leader’s last request and take down Ieyasu’s army. Throughout the story he wonders if this is the right call though and if he should start to make his own decisions. He has dreams as a result and does a lot of crying. He even loses to Date Masamune once again. Yukimura eventually finds his resolve though and decides to keep going straight ahead to wherever this path will take him.
I’m not sure about the rest of the stories as I just did one, but Yukimura’s doesn’t have much of an ending. We end up having a draw with Ieyasu and both fighters just walk away. It wasn’t as satisfying as I would have liked. That being said, the actual story was pretty well done as we got some nice cutscenes throughout. I think the developers put a reasonable amount of effort into it. It’s also nostalgic to see the characters in the style of the anime. It’s too bad they couldn’t get all of the voice actors back, but they got most of them which is pretty impressive.
The gameplay is what you’d expect as you plunge ahead and take down hundreds of opponents. You have your standard attacks as well as your supers. The first levels are pretty difficult since you’re at a low level, but level ups come very quickly in this game so it’s not a problem for too long. It also makes you fight with strategy as sometimes you actually will have to retreat and get some health before going back to the boss. It’s always tough to retreat, but you gotta do what you gotta do right? The levels had a perfect amount of health items and size without it being too much. The attacks are also nice and flashy although they are a big step down from Gundam and Hyrule. The attacks don’t have the same widespread devastation that the others had, but I’ll take it over nothing. It is still trying to be semi realistic I suppose.
This game does also have trophies to collect, but good luck getting them all. It would certainly be a bit of a grind so I don’t plan on getting many more anytime soon. I should try to grab some to boost my rank up, but the Platinum is a little out of reach. This title certainly does have a bunch of replay value though. Playing through each story should take you around 3 hours a piece and then maxing everyone out and getting all of the equipment is another huge hurdle. The game’s going rate nowadays isn’t even all that expensive so it’s a bargain.
The soundtrack is all right. It’s rather forgettable, but it works reasonably well. I can’t recall a single tune but you’ll be so busy vanquishing the enemies in front of you that you won’t really care by the end. The graphics are pretty good as well. I’d definitely say that they’re PS3 level although they can’t shine as much as they could if it took place in a city. Why have we never had a beat em up in NYC? You have to admit that it’d be pretty awesome.
There’s not really much more to say about the game. It’s one of those titles that really just sells itself. The gameplay is really polished so fighting through the levels is a blast. I guess if I had one critique it would be that the story is a little weaker. Devil Kings was a lot more hype because he really felt like a big villain who was behind everything, but I guess you can’t have someone like that every time. Having the main antagonist be someone who’s also trying for world peace is definitely an interesting dynamic after all.
There’s also a lot of depth to the game’s gameplay that I didn’t even get to tinker with much. Not only can you equip better weapons as you go on, but you can equip accessories to them. I believe some give you extra EXP while others are more standard like more attack and such. You can have fun with a lot of experimenting there. It’s probably also a good idea to try out all of the characters to see which one you like the most. I believe Nohime was my favorite in the last one because using two guns in a game that’s usually all about swords is pretty fun. That being said, I always had to go back to my swords at some point.
Overall, This was a really fun game. It really captured the essence of what a beat em up is all about. You pretty much always had a choice of going straight for the boss or sticking around and helping your army take on the generals. I decided to savor the experience and took down all of the generals in each level before going for the boss. What made this possible was how quickly the enemies went down and that the levels weren’t too huge. I think it was a perfect blend in both cases. I played the game on Normal so it wasn’t a walk in the park but it wasn’t a brutal grind either. The map size was also good based on how fast you can fun. A bigger map would still work well as long as you can dash a little faster. Naturally there is also a co-op mode so if you really want to lay devastating damage to the armies with a friend, it’ll make the game that much better. Co-Op was basically made for beat em up titles like this one. If you don’t own this game yet, you should definitely fix that.
It definitely didn’t take too long to get to the big sequel to the original Force Unleashed. I enjoyed the first game quite a bit so I was excited to see what the sequel brings to the table. Ideally a sequel should always be just as good or better in every way. This sequel managed to pull that off in all areas aside from the plot. Is it enough to get that extra star and nab a 9 or will it continue to elude the game? Time to find out!
The game starts with Starkiller waking up in one of Darth Vader’s training rooms. The Sith explains that this Starkiller is the only clone to have been a success and that the original Starkiller is dead. This clone has all of his powers and memories and Vader will make him destroy the Jedi. Clone or not, Starkiller decides to escape instead and manages to find his old resistance teammate, the blind Jedi. The Jedi claims that Vader is lying and Starkiller is the original. Starkiller’s not sure what to think about all of this, but the main heroine is in trouble so he decides to launch a full scale attack on Vader’s base. Ultimately, his origin won’t matter as long as he can save her.
I don’t really mind the game keeping it ambiguous as to whether Starkiller is the genuine article or not. It adds a little tension and who doesn’t want to see some of that in the story. As long as it isn’t overplayed, it works well. Unfortunately, the story still was a step down from the first. It’s still cinematic and feels like a movie, but it’s a movie that doesn’t have much of a plot. It takes a while for Starkiller to decide what to do and by the time he does, the story is over. You could sum up the game’s story in a few sentences. Starkiller returns and meets up with his old pal. The two of them make it to the resistance base, but it was destroyed. They head over to Vader’s base and blow it up as they save the heroine. That’s really all that happens in this game.
Of course, the game was quite short so it was never going to have the same amount of content as the first game. Still, I was expecting a little more. Admittedly, part of the fault is in the fact that I thought the game was more about choosing between good and evil the whole time like in the Shadow The Hedgehog game. It turns out that only the ending matters like in the first game so it’s quite different from what I had assumed. The game is supposed to be roughly 5 hours long and that sounds about right. Hardcore gamers can finish it in one sitting although it took me 2. 5 hours of straight gaming may have been something I did more back in the day, but that is really a long time to be sitting down.
Granted, the ending is quite great just like in the last game. I ended up obtaining the dark ending. I wanted to make the hero call of course, but then the villain started to goad me on and I decided it was time to end him. A pretty shocking moment occurred and honestly it was all handled beautifully. As always the blind Jedi was supremely annoying, but I suppose that couldn’t be helped. Personally I’d say that the Starkiller in this game is a clone. It’s not really a spoiler since I know people have gone either way with this although most see it the way that I do in this case. That being said, he may have been more likable than the first one.
The gameplay is a lot smoother than the first game and I was hoping that would be the case. It’s the same core gameplay as it’s a 3D hack and slash title where you have other abilities at your disposal as well. You can shoot lightning and harness the force to protect yourself. This time you have 2 Lightsabers and you can switch out their crystals to give the weapon other special abilities. I recommend the extra EXP ones since those really add up by the end. The combos are a lot more fluid and the tutorial is fast while also being comprehensive. You’ll really feel like a Jedi Master as you slice through dozens and dozens of opponents.
There are a lot of cubes to find and trophies to collect which should add to the replay value. It has about the same kind of bonus content as the first game so there’s not much new to be on the lookout for. Just grab all of the cubes that you can and level up. It’s considerably easier than the first game as well I might add and that is probably because of how much smoother it is. I died quite a few times in the first game because my lightning wouldn’t lock on, but that’s never an issue here. With the original’s story this would instantly be a 9. As it is, it is a close call. The gameplay is amazing, but the experience is relatively short.
You probably figured this from the first game, but the graphics are still quite great. They have improved from the first title which is saying something. This is definitely pretty high end even for the PS3. The soundtrack is a little more forgettable though. Surprisingly both games didn’t really have any memorable tunes. I guess this game had to have a weakness somewhere right?
Speaking of weaknesses though, I did think that some of the quick time events were a little too hard. Not in terms of timing as that was pretty normal, but the events where you had to press a button really quickly. I just couldn’t push it fast enough and had to keep trying different ways until I finally nailed it. There were around 3 bosses like this and they just didn’t feel fair or balanced. I can’t imagine how a kid would get through these levels. I definitely have to respect their button mashing skills if they pulled it off.
Beyond that, I am still a big QTE fan as always. Personally I think it makes the boss fights more epic. I know some don’t care for it and I can see the negative side (Losing near the end of a long QTE sequence and having to do the whole thing over again) but it’s certainly still a positive in the end. As for the story which I keep taking subtle shots at, I just felt like the writing for Starkiller was a little all over the place. At times he was fairly quiet and treated like an experienced veteran. Then he would suddenly talk and then he wouldn’t stop as he panicked about everything and did a ton of yelling. The former is what I expected of Starkiller while the latter just feels out of character. He’s just a lot more emotional than I would have expected at times although he still makes the rational choices in the end.
I did say that I liked him more than the first Starkiller though and that’s because he’s just a little more intense. He makes the controversial decision to abandon the alliance so he could save the heroine instead, but it’s a move that I can go with. The rebellion is always falling to pieces anyway and they were okay with sacrificing her so naturally that was not okay. Starkiller made the right move. The game’s ending is quite dark no matter which ending you ultimately ended up going for. Naturally mine was incredibly dark but probably the more hype ending. It just seems like Starkiller can’t catch a break. I’d love a sequel to this game, but it seems like it isn’t to be.
Overall, The Force Unleashed II did everything you could ask for from a sequel. It tightened up the already solid gameplay to make it even better. It improved the graphics and still gave us a full cinematic story. There’s also a good amount of replay value here and none of the trophies are too crazy. You’ll have a blast from start to finish. Even if the story isn’t quite as intense as the first game, you’ll still be pretty reasonably hooked during it and the climax ends the game with a bang. Now if only we could get a multiplayer mode.
Stats time! The Play time should actually be higher, but apparently the game auto saves don’t actually count as saves and as such don’t count play time. When I go through the game again for the trophies, I’ll have to remember to save manually.
Play Time 4h 36m
I’ve been waiting to play this Star Wars game for quite a while. It got a lot of hype when it first came out and I’ve owned it for quite a few years but was blasting through the older games first. While the gameplay may not have aged incredibly well since it first came out, I quickly got into the swing of things and enjoyed the game quite a lot. Ironically the beginning of the game was more difficult than the second half of it since the upgrades really helped to change the course of battle. I just wish I had realized that I wasn’t logged in to my PSN because of some network issues as I missed out on the trophies. I’m still a little salty about that. With this review done, I’m also ready to begin the sequel to see how it improved upon the original!
The plot focuses on a young padawan named Starkiller. Darth Vader decided to train him as an apprentice in the hopes that the two of them could team up to destroy Palpatine. To this end he has Starkiller go around hunting Jedi to improve his abilities until he is ready. The problem is that Palpatine becomes aware of the plot so Vader has to take some drastic measures, but this ends up being a fatal mistake by the end. Honestly, Vader should have just taken the opportunity and fought right there. That definitely would have been his best chance.
The gameplay is 3D where you have total freedom to use The Force, Shoot Lightning, or attack with your Lightsaber. It’s one of the best gameplay styles out there and it was cool to play it. A lot of games like this I don’t really get to play like Infamous or Grand Theft Auto. You can level up the skills and get a lot stronger during the game. By the end you can really feel the difference in your abilities which was handled really well. The boss you had trouble with at the beginning is nothing more than a minion by the end. Now that’s what I call character progression.
One issue that I do have with the title is the lock on feature though. It’s really not helpful as it always locks on the wrong thing. You tend to miss with your attacks as a result at times which can really be annoying. You learn to work around that by the end, but the gameplay just could have been a little more polished in this angle if you ask me. I shouldn’t have to work around it. I’m sure this will be fixed by the end though.
The game is reasonably challenging, but it’s not unfair. You get to keep your EXP from the minions so just keep retrying the level until you win. Use strategy and try different tactics, you’ll get through eventually. I had some trouble with the first mini boss but it all went well after that. Once I had mastered the controls, it was on to the races. At only 9 levels the game is a little on the short side, but it should still last you about 4-5 hours. There is also some good replay value in finding all of the collectibles and obtaining your shiny Platinum Trophy. It seems like a bit of a grind as well as being reasonably difficult so it should take you quite a while to grab them all.
The graphics are really good and the game spared no expense with its cinematic cutscenes. The game feels like a big movie at times without limiting the gameplay. You have a good amount of quick time events for all of the bosses which always adds a thematic element into the mix. This is really the definition of a AAA game and we need more Star Wars games like this one. The soundtrack is also on point with most of the iconic film themes making it into the game. I can’t say much for the original music in the game as the film ones are the only themes to really stick out.
Starkiller is the protagonist here and he starts out as an evil follower and eventually becomes a hero. He even makes the tough call at the end to spare Palpatine instead of destroying him. Same for Darth Vader. He may not be quite as intense as I thought he’d be, but he’s pretty solid. I like him more than Luke Skywalker and some of the other Jedi. He probably is one of the best Star War Jedi either way though if that’s any consolation. He reminded me a lot of Cole from the Infamous series. I definitely also think that he’s one of the most powerful Jedi as he was able to hold his own against Vader and Palpatine, no easy feat.
The rest of the supporting cast was all right. The main heroine was good and took the plot twists in stride. The only character who was annoying was the blind Jedi. I believe Rogue One’s character was basically taken from this one. While he technically gave some good advice like telling Starkiller not to destroy his opponents, he was incredibly weak for a Jedi. He spent the entire story getting beaten up and being a liability. Starkiller actually could have made it through this game if not for him.
Still, it was an epic story no doubt about that. This could easily be adapted into a movie and I think it would be a really epic one. The cutscenes are movie quality as it is and the story could easily fit into the universe. Vader’s whole plan maybe felt a little extra convoluted and training Starkiller so well may not have been a good idea, but it made for a good excuse to have a character be so strong. I imagine Vader would be a pretty good teacher since he is so ruthless.
Overall, The Force Unleashed absolutely lived up to the hype. The only thing holding it back from a 9 is that the camera work/lock on feature is a little too unreliable and the game is perhaps a bit too short. There aren’t any real negatives, but to get to the 9 Star rating you just need something extra. Perhaps the sequel will be able to make it all the way up there, but at an 8 it is still a great title that you should get at all costs. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ll be able to appreciate the game all the more. It lets you utilize every Jedi/Sith power seamlessly in the gameplay. You’ll feel like The Force is with you.