The Stack-Up: Star Wars- The Force Unleashed II

How does the book stack up to the videogame?

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I originally intended to cover Clint Eastwood’s “Cry Macho”, but realized my suspension of disbelief would sacrifice my enjoyment. The determining factor was the final trailer’s soundtrack; “Wait a minute, is that the theme from ‘The Mission’ (1986)? Leave that masterpiece alone will ya?”

Perhaps a better title for the film would be, “No Spring Chicken”, as it would have expressed more of the plot than you realize. So, I decided to cover a videogame and its book adaption. Variety, you know.

The video game

Released in 2010 and written by Haden Blackman, this story continues where its predecessor “Force Unleashed” left off: with its protagonist dead. Beginning on a clone-harvesting planet, Kamino, Darth Vader clones the protagonist’s body to make the perfect apprentice. Yeah, that’s a bit far-fetched, but we have a plot.

Failing a test to kill a hologram of Juno Eclipse, his former’s love interest, Vader attempts to execute the clone, Starkiller, only for him to escape. Starkiller then embarks to save the love of his past life, continue his former’s work and bring the fight to Vader.

I played this game on the Wii (remember when that was new?) and the experience I had with it was a good one. The story is paper-thin compared to its predecessor, but it makes up for it with many amazing action sequences for the player. On my first time playing, I simply used the Force to dash away from my enemies instead of the lightsaber. Moving at a breakneck pace, the game allows ample time to just run about the scenery, hacking, slashing and smashing.

The game mechanics constantly add new enemies, including invisible foes that are fun and frustrating to battle and a vast amount of power you may confer on your character through fighting, keeps this game interesting and endlessly enjoyable. My favorite move was to gather up all the Force and let it loose as a powerful battering ram against objects.

Among the problems of the game is the easy mortality rate your character has at times, followed by overly long battles with behemoths that seem to suffer little damage. The story is short to the point of feeling rushed. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take a tremendous force to make me want to play this game when I can. (Terrible pun, I know.)

Review: 4/5

The book

Darth Vader: “He (Starkiller) is dead…Then he is now more powerful than ever.”

Novelized by Sean Williams that same year, this book fills in the hefty blanks in the video game’s story with heftier exposition exploring the war, sci-fi world and what exactly happened to Juno Eclipse all of this time. While the game focused solely on Starkiller only, the book takes turns between characters. I listened to the audiobook read by Jonathon Davis (no, not the lead singer from Korn, though I must say several Korn songs would fit Starkiller’s plight in this book).

While the game focused on action, the book focuses more on the soul of a character uncertain of what he is, driven with angst, rage, determination and a staggering amount of romantic expression so sweet you’d get a toothache (or cavity, in my case). The book takes its time telling the story as a slow burn and containing more dialogue and description.

The video game was fun, but the book is more a saga, and I was left more emotionally satisfied by the story spun by Williams than I was playing the game. This book includes the grim “Dark Side” ending of the game but features it as a vision of a possible future Starkiller can bring about.

Starkiller’s inner-torment is better expressed of wondering what exactly he is — a ghost, facsimile or a living human with purpose and will. However, my favorite aspect of both presentations is the inference that, though Vader may have lost, he has the upper hand when he tells Starkiller, “As long as she (Juno) lives, I will always control you.”

Simply, it is the best official fanfic I ever read. Gee, I can’t wait to see what happens in “Force Unleashed 3”.
(Cancelled after Disney’s purchase of Lucasfilm). Aw, shucks.

Review: 5/5

Since under the Disney banner, the “Stars Wars” saga has been treated with nothing but respect for the series’ beloved characters, with films expressing wholly original storytelling of the hero’s journey and triumph over evil without delving into gender-empowerment cliches, plot contrivances and — I’m a poor liar, aren’t I?

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