Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Force Unleashed 2 Is Too Much

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 23 Nov 2010 12:00
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There's a pitfall games tend to inevitably plummet down whenever they have multiple endings. Almost invariably there will be a "good" ending and a "bad" ending, but if you get the "bad" ending, then it doesn't feel like a conclusion to the story. It just feels like you failed in some way, receiving a non-standard Game Over, which could just as easily have been acquired if you'd simply died in the preceding boss fight. The first time I played through Silent Hill Homecoming I got a "bad" ending, and in that game the ending you get depends on some really arbitrary factors that have very little to do with victory or failure, so I felt cheated and disappointed, like my hooker for the evening had broken off half-way through to answer the phone. In contrast, as I've said before, Singularity of all things does a good job of making each of its three endings actually feel like a conclusion.

Force Unleashed 2 is a very curious case. There's a good ending and a bad ending (or 'light side' and 'dark side', rather, Star Wars does nothing if not run with a theme) and predictably the dark side is the shitty ending where you die and fail. But here's the odd thing. The entire last chapter of the game seems to be leading up to a twist at the end, 'cos all the other characters are going "No don't go that way some things are better off not knowing," etc. But are you ready for this, internet? The twist is only revealed in one of the endings. And it's only revealed in the bad ending. The one where you fail is the one where the story finds some payoff. How does that make any fucking sense? Is the bad ending canonical, then? So what was the point of anything when events basically begin and end in exactly the same situation?

So that's the first point. The other is one that has been irking me for some time about games and popular culture in general. You see, as I said in the video, Starkiller (named after a rejected suggestion for Luke Skywalker's name, trivia fans) is ridiculously overpowered, compared to the skill levels on display in every other Star Wars adaptation. He can pick up and crush giant robots and spaceships with his mind. He can do a shockwave attack thing that makes everything within a wide radius instantly disintegrate. He can, for all intents and purposes, fly. It makes one wonder why Darth Vader was so impressed by Luke Skywalker when he'd been knocking around with this motherfucker a scant few years previously.

Visual effects technology in both videogames and films have advanced to the point that what is put on screen is limited only by the director's imagination, and whatever the people in marketing say has to be added or removed because they don't want to alienate the foreign market. This has led to this continuing game of mass media one-upmanship where designers try to bring us the biggest, most spectacular, most not the least bit grounded in reality set pieces their Korean sub-contractors can create. And I posit that it is more than possible for a sequence to be too awesome.

Let's go back to Lucasfilm for an example. For that small number of you who actually went to see Indiana Jones and The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull and haven't consciously forced yourself to forget everything about it, remember that chase scene through a jungle where two jeeps travelled at ridiculous speeds along two suspiciously straight jungle tracks perhaps laid out by the exceedingly rare Giant Two-Wheeled Sloth. In which charisma event horizon Shia The Beef stands with one foot on each vehicle, getting hit in the giggle zone by passing foliage, never being thrown off to his death by, say, physics. Then the heroes' jeep drives off a waterfall and bounces off a horizontal tree in a crafty escape plan that could only have been accounted for by a clairvoyant lunatic.

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