Both individually and together, the two installments of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed stand out on their own merits as two of the best video games ever made around the universe of Star Wars. Not only for achieving excellence through epic moments and impeccable gameplay, but for the revolutionary way in which its protagonist makes us feel that we master both the Force and the lightsaber.
In fact, despite the fact that the final bars of the great story that unfolds in both games separate them from the official Star Wars canon and Disney’s purchase of LucasFilm from the current continuity of the saga, LucasArts was right to offer a totally believable context, well linked to the Star Wars Expanded Universe and, most interesting of all, designed with the full and absolute approval of George Lucas himself.
After all, the project begins to take shape after the launch of Star Wars Battlefront and begins its development in a very unique context: Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith had already been released in theaters and there was a whole universe of possibilities. To be explored in the timeline that separates the classic trilogy and the prequels.
Thus, with the film saga closed by Lucas, all of LucasFilm would turn to shaping the known and unknown Star Wars universe, including its own video game division. Which, on the other hand, coincided with the final introduction of Xbox 360 and PS3, a new generation of consoles whose hardware capabilities seemed to have no limits. They could even offer games in high definition. And from LucasArts they were more than willing to put them to the test.
After Episode III, the next big Star Wars event would not be released in theaters
George Lucas himself insisted that a great original project be created that would convey the essence of the movies, and he was not short of proposals, including an action game starring a bounty hunter, Darth Maul or a powerful Wookiee. This last idea being discarded by Lucas himself: how to introduce dramatic elements when the protagonist can barely vocalize?
Then, the lightbulb was illuminated to Kim Ward, Darrell Rodriguez, Peter Hirschmann and the rest of the great LucasArts board of directors: under the concept of Kicking butt with the Force, an action title will be created that will channel the entire essence of the saga in its protagonist and will raise it to new heights of epicity.
Only, instead of being a hero, the chosen one, or a noble Jedi warrior, it will be a Sith-in-training with overwhelming power.
In fact, it will not be just any practitioner of the dark reverse of the Force: it is the very secret apprentice of Darth Vader. An absolutely brilliant concept, since through it the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed fan will explore in the first person a universe in which the whip of the Galactic Empire exercises the closest thing to a kind of parental role and answers an interesting question: what would have happened if Vader had trained Luke since he was little?
Although, of course, just imagining scenes like taking down a colossal Star Destroyer using only the Force unleashed the imagination of the developers.
George Lucas not only gave the project approval, but gave his personal approval and advice on each and every aspect that related the game to Star Wars canon. So, for example, he allowed characters like Princess Leia to appear among others, but adding nuances and footnotes about his way of involving them, where they should be in the universe or how they would act.
With all these premises, and with two years of margin to overcome the hangover after Episode III, the initiative of Star Wars: The Power of the Force will become the next great event in the galactic saga and one of LucasFilm’s top priorities . Making a great move similar to Shadows of The Empire : creating the deployment that is usually done in the face of the launch of a movie without there being a movie.
Although the Star Wars: The Power of the Force Unleashed video game was the centerpiece of the initiative, it came wrapped in its own official novel, its merchandising line , an RPG based on its events, miniatures and even its own series of graphic novels. To which we must add that, despite the delay in its launch on consoles, the epic feat of Vader’s apprentice was played on practically all systems : PS3, Xbox One, Wii, Nintendo DS, PC and even PlayStation 2.
Thus, in September 2008 , the new big Star Wars event was ready to unfold. And the best part is that the result met expectations.
The Power of the Force, the untold story of Darth Vader’s disciple
The Old Republic and the Jedi Temple have fallen , but there are still several knights, apprentices, and practitioners of the Force scattered throughout the galaxy. Threats to the relentless forces of the Empire and, at the same time, loose ends that the mighty Darth Vader is determined to eliminate. With one exception.
Years ago, the imposing Sith Lord made a great discovery on Kashyyyk , the homeworld of the Wookiees: after murdering a Jedi Master, he discovered that he was actually hiding a child with a huge connection to the Force from him . A candid soul with enormous potential who, instead of being sentenced by his lightsaber, will train personally and secretly with one purpose: to make it his best weapon.
Years have passed and that child is now a prodigious apprentice who has mastered both the use of force and direct combat. He even wields his own blade with great skill. Vader is aware that he will soon be able to complete his training and use it to take over the reins of the galaxy himself, but first there are a series of tests he must overcome. Including the elimination of several Jedi that are still hidden throughout the cosmos.
As a game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed inherits the best of the hack’n slash of the early 2000s, the greatness of the best LucasArts games inspired by Star Wars and a visual and playable section transgressive that was possible by combining three cutting-edge technologies:
- The Euphoria engine (which is still used in games like GTA V or Red Dead Redemption 2)
- Technology DMM (Digital Molecular Matter), which allowed to move, deform and play with the elements on the screen with a spectacular freedom.
- The cinema-quality visuals of Industrial Light & Magic.
To the above, LucasArts added the Havoken physics engine and assembled it in Ronin, custom-built software. The end result in motion was spectacular.
This resulted in impressive finishes that are still in style decades later . At least when it comes to the 7th Gen PC and desktop versions. Now, where the game really shines is in its gameplay and how it has been implemented in the colossal and highly detailed levels.
Vader’s apprentice not only learns lots of spectacular combos throughout the game with which he is able to take on Rebels and Imperials with enormous ease, but he also integrates the use of the Force in an accurate and dynamic way into the equation as it had not been seen before in a video game. Making clearing the galaxy of enemies as exciting as it is entertaining.
Special mention, within the way in which we can experiment with the Force in battle , is the system with which we can interact with everything that surrounds us: we can burst doors with a Force Push or lift and levitate practically everything we move on stage easily and intuitively. Taking full advantage of the two analog stick system.
Encouraging our creativity when it comes to destroying and, at the same time, creating challenges that test our prowess when it comes to solving three-dimensional puzzles , with tons of collectibles and secrets spread generously throughout the scenarios.
Logically, that The Power of the Force is located between the two Star Wars trilogies means that it must be self-concluding at the plot level. Although LucasArts produced an outstanding story around our protagonist with very tight winks for Star Wars fans , the climax of it gave us to choose our own destiny a la Anakin Skywalker: occupy the position of Darth Vader and break the canon or give the Rebel Alliance a chance in exchange for our own life.
Luckily for everyone, and despite the magnitude and consequences of both events, two years later the sequel to The Power of the Force will arrive.
The Power of the Force II: an even more epic sequel with its own weaknesses
Even death was not an obstacle for Darth Vader’s apprentice to face his own destiny. Six months after the events shown in The Power of the Force and approximately a year before the Battle of Yavin and what happened in Star Wars (Episode IV of the film saga) we were once again crossing the galaxy leaving a generous trail of Imperial corpses as we passed.
On the planet Kamino, where the clone army of the Old Republic was forged through genetic science, Darth Vader contemplates his new creation: an exact, grown-up replica of the disciple who betrayed him.
The connection to the force was still immense in the clone. However, it didn’t take long for the memories and feelings inherited from Vader’s original apprentice to push him into a desperate escape. Relocating his immense power in against himself of the Galactic Empire.
Although The Power of the Force II continues the plot after the sacrifice of Vader’s apprentice, we will note that the two years that separate the original from the sequel are easily noticeable in terms of finishes, playability and spectacularity: LucasArts was much more comfortable to When it comes to shaping this new installment, and that shows from the beginning.
In the process, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II gains ambition as the new apprentice faces even greater dangers, from massive conscientiously armored droids to a hulking skyscraper-sized creature to the mightiest soldiers and forces of the empire ever shown. in a video game.
Rightly combining a more polished gameplay and offering access to the protagonist’s key abilities from the beginning with a more simplified interface. Hitting the cinematic scenes and spectacular resolutions based on Quick Time Events that always retain the emotion on screen.
Integrating new characters into the plot, including stellar appearances of great caliber for fans of the galactic saga. And best of all, masterfully tying the overall experience to what the Star Wars universe must feel like.
However, and despite all the steps in the right direction given by The Power of the Force II , it did not cause the same impact as the original installment. Perhaps, because it had to be measured against other much more powerful hack’n Slash and had largely lost the surprise factor. Something that its duration, quite correct within the genre of the action itself, did not finish helping.
As in the first installment, LucasArts allowed the player to access different endings. And, logically, the best were those who deviated the fate of the galaxy the most from the original course shown in movie theaters. However, the purpose of LucasArts is for this sequel to be the darkest in the series. A kind of The Empire Strikes Back within a new trilogy created to be played.
Which, on the other hand, leads us to the logical question: what happened to The Power of the Force III ? In essence, Disney acquired Lucasfilm and LucasArts two years later and dumped all projects in development. Some of them known and others, not so much.
The legacy of Starkiller, the apprentice who made us destroy the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed universe as a Sith
Although the project of The Power of the Force was conceived as a great event within the Star Wars universe, the good reception of the game and the momentum gained with the sequel, despite being self-contained, gradually led the player to a larger plot. . And while The Force Unleashed III never made it into the development phase , the true climax of the apprentice arc will fully unfold in a third and final episode.
The little we know about the call to be the final act of the Starkiller trilogy did not look bad: Sam Witwer, who gave voice, face and movement to the apprentice in the saga of the Power of the Force, revealed to the IGN medium in 2013 that the plot would force Darth Vader and his disciple to join forces in the face of an even greater evil. More strongly integrating the bounty hunter Boba Fett and the Emperor himself into the plot.
As far as playable, from what was discussed, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed III would take advantage of the PS4 and Xbox One hardware to offer much larger and more ambitious scenarios and open-world mechanics. The reality, on the other hand, is that conceptual art was not even created for the game and that the main person in charge of the saga W. Haden Blackman, despite presenting the project to LucasArts, was already taking positions to create what will happen to be Hangar 13.
Unfortunately, and as we discussed a bit above, Disney rethought the role of LucasArts in video games, delegating the development of future games to third parties. So the legendary company turned to licensing new projects and its own legacy. Canceling in the process all Star Wars related games that were being developed.
And since then, Electronic Arts has been the maximum beneficiary, obtaining a very preferential agreement when adapting the Star Wars universe to PCs, consoles and mobile devices.
Electronic Arts was totally focused on multiplayer experiences, and we even saw how abusing the dark side of it through the new Star Wars Battlefront II was very expensive. In fact, since he got hold of it, he has canceled several major single-player based projects , losing great creatives and even entire studios in the process. But also hitting with titles that remind us of the best of LucasArts’ most inspired stage.
In November 2019, and through Respawn, Electronic Arts released Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. An action adventure that, without conveying the frenzy and epicity of the hack’n slashes of a decade ago, radiates sensations very similar to the LucasArts legacy with the Star Wars saga. Making wielding a lightsaber and modifying environments through force become special again.
Since the Disney acquisition, all material unrelated to film or television adaptations has been relegated to Legends , a kind of limbo full of parallel stories inspired by that galaxy far, far away. Some minor and some really spectacular. Will Darth Vader’s apprentice get stuck in the Legends seal?
Well, seeing how well The Mandalorian is tying up all the loose ends of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, many of us continue to have faith that Sam Witwer will once again wield Vader’s apprentice lightsaber. For now, the actor remains on the Lucasfilm radar , having participated and lent his voice to Darth Maul and other characters in productions such as Vader Immortal, Star Wars: Squadrons and, soon, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.
If actor Temuera Morrison got his Beskar armor back through Boba Fett, nothing is impossible in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed.