Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bulletstorm: FPS On Steroids

In the world of the crowded FPS Genre, it gets difficult to stay on top. Every time a new concept comes along, various clones show up to try and cash in on the idea. However, one key concept always remains in an FPS: using the environment as a weapon. These usually come in the form of red barrels or some other form of explosive object in the background. The concept of realism also stands, attempting to combine the two into masterpiece crafts of the genre. If a game like Uncharted 2 is like a cinematic masterpiece and Call of Duty is a realistic war scenario, then Bulletstorm is a melodic blood symphony that makes the most out of its concept/tagline; Kill With Skill.

Looking first at the story, I wasn't really sure what to expect from it. Usually, a game with a concept as unique as that of Bulletstorm would just have a razor thin excuse plot designed solely to let you run wild. Instead, the story for this game has a surprising amount of depth to it. We start with a very intriguing and potty mouthed opening, which sets the stage for the story. Grayson Hunt finally encounters a ship that General Serrano is on and proceeds to attack it dead on. His ship crashes into Serrano's and both end up landing on the planet Stygia. After having surgery performed on his partner Ishi Sato, Grayson locks onto the location of Serrano and they both proceed to locate him.

It wouldn't really be right to talk about the plot of the game any further, as it is full of twists and unforeseen circumstances. But it would be right to say that it is full of truly spectacular moments and feats of scale never before seen in a shooter. For example, there is one section where Grayson gleefully attacks his enemies with a giant remote controlled robotic dinosaur, and another where Grayson and Ishi have to shoot enemies on an oncoming train while avoiding and attempting to take out a humongous wheel weaving towards them. The story was well-written in my opinion, assisted by top-notch voice acting and hilarious, if very potty mouthed, dialogue. Seriously, the amount of language in this game is enough to rival most games out on the market today. Even so, I was laughing all the way through the campaign.

The biggest part of Bulletstorm is the premise: Kill With Skill. Kills in the game are called Skillshots. In essence, there is a name for just about any kind of kill you can pull off short of just outright mowing an enemy down, each with a point value assigned to it. These points are then used as currency for the various dropkits scattered in the game, so the better you are the more weapons, upgrade, and ammo you can purchase for your guns. These skillshots come from skillfully combining your guns, leash, and standing and sliding kicks to pull off increasingly elaborate shots. Some also involve the environment, such as setting off an explosive near the enemy for the Enviro-Mental skillshot, which is one of the simplest skill shots to perform. If you want to start getting complex, you can use the energy leash's alt-fire, Thumper, to launch enemies into the air and kill them for Trap Shooting. And if you want to really get intricate, you can leash an enemy to your position, wrap a flail shot around them, and then kick them back toward a group and detonate the flail for the Homie Missile and Gang Bang skillshots. There are so many skillshots that I still haven't found all of them. There is a real thrill out of finding new skillshots and weapon combinations to use, which will guarantee more play out of the game in the near future.

The weapons are perhaps the most fun thing about Bulletstorm. Aside from the energy leash, kick, and trusty Peacemaker Carbine (PMC), you have a wide array of guns, each with their own powerful alt-fire modes. The alt-fire allows you to charge up your shots for equally ridiculous effects. For example, charging the Screamer turns it into a flare gun and charging the Head Hunter, a sniper rifle, allows you to detonate the sniper round midair for explosive results. Weapons also include the Penetrator, a drill gun; Flail Gun; Bouncer, a grenade launcher with bouncing orb shots; and Boneduster, a quadruple-barreled shotgun. While using them is always exciting, it helps that the controls are very tight and responsive, letting you feel more like a killing machine than ever thought possible. You can carry two other guns besides the PMC, and some are situational, but it's exciting to find that a combination was very effective even if it wasn't the "correct" one.

As far as visuals go, they were very detailed and fluid. The backgrounds are also very lush and colorful and the architecture is beautifully detailed, which gives you something nice to look at while you paint the walls with the blood and guts of your enemies. It was great to see a game like this use a large color palette, making for more inviting scenery and architecture than something like Fallout 3 or Bioshock 2. The game is also very linear, which minimizes backtracking to just going back to a strategically placed dropkit for a different load out or more ammo. What I knew going in was that the enemies in the game were more randomized to avoid being simply cookie cutter clusters, which I liked when I noticed some of the subtlety in the generated enemies.

Aside from the enjoyable Single Player campaign, there are also the Echoes and multiplayer Anarchy modes. Echoes mode has you replaying specific enemy encounters to compete against your friends by racking up points and finding more skillshots. While I enjoyed this mode for hours, I believe that leaderboard nuts will get full enjoyment out of this mode, compared to someone like me who prefers to play it to squeeze more fun out of the game. Sadly, I am unable to review the Anarchy mode due to unknown circumstances. I can't tell if it was the weather at the time or if it was a bad server connection or if it was my PS3 acting up, but I was unable to play a single map and at best stared at an infinite loading screen for about 30 minutes before giving up. As such, I am not one to say whether or not the online cooperative multiplayer is good or not; you may have to find out from someone else.

So, besides being unable to personally play the multiplayer and an okay ending to the story, Bulletstorm exceeded all of my expectations and then some. Never before has an FPS game make you think so quickly about various kills to the point where it becomes an instinctive reaction. I can definitely recommend this game to absolutely anyone who has played an FPS in their life and is willing to experience something that will expand their creative thinking. As for those who are still on the fence, think about it this way: in this game, you can fire a scoped sniper round at an enemy and redirect it midflight to make sure it hits your target, then control the enemy you just shot midair to another close by and remotely detonate the round.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Marvel vs. Capcom 3: Fate of Two Worlds

I'll admit that I'm not an avid player when it comes to fighting games, but I do know an exciting one when I see one. I have played a few rounds of Marvel vs Capcom 2 on arcade cabinets with my brother, and we had a good time. Neither of us was particularly good, but we thought it was a great game and wanted to play more of it. Fast forward years later, with new knowledge of just who the characters in that game were and a new interest in fighting games thanks, in part, to titles like Super Street Fighter IV. Now imagine my surprise last year when I opened up a magazine and heard about Marvel vs Capcom 3. The roster at the time was small, it was an announcement after all, but I lit up and followed much news about the game once it was closer to the release date. Come February 15 and I finally get this highly anticipated game in the mail. After playing for a good while, I can say that this game has definitely lit up the same flame from all those years ago in the arcade.

This time around, Capcom decided to go with a smaller character roster, 36 characters instead of the 56 from the last entry. While this may disappoint longtime fans of the series, it is a move that actually seems rather brilliant on their part. After all, less characters means they can balance the game better. As with the last game, I really didn't know the history behind a lot of the characters, but they were recognizable and all very fun to play around with. The 3v3 gameplay, carried over from the previous installment, allows for a lot of experimentation for the teams. My brother and I quickly found favorite characters to use, such as Deadpool and Sentinel, but we would always find some kind of combination that could overcome the ones we liked to use, which is a good thing. We haven't gotten a good handle on a few characters, like She-Hulk, Wesker, and Tron Bonne, but our likeness for experimentation means we will continue to find various tactics they could be used for.

The Arcade Mode is one mode I have put a bit of time in, and I loved every moment of it. I found a combination of characters that I liked to use, Hulk with Sentinel and Deadpool, but I also loved to break this mold to try and find more effective combinations. The AI is very competent as an opponent and really kept my energy going. While some characters get more annoying to play against on higher difficulties, like Chun-Li and Spiderman, I still had a really great time trying to overcome the difficulty curve. The final boss fight against Galactus was also fairly challenging, even on Medium, and it left a good feeling in me knowing that I had bested a being who could destroy entire planets. While the story of a fighting game isn't all that important, I must say that I had a mixed feeling about the endings. In both Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter IV, Capcom gave every character their own well-animated ending. Here, we only see dialogue boxes over still panels. While I was a little disappointed about this, in hindsight it gives it the feel of a Marvel comic book, which is what it ends up looking like anyway.

Speaking of looks, the game's visuals and graphics are simply amazing. I remember how smoothly the 2D sprites from MvC 2 handled, and this game isn't any different. Capcom decided to do what they did with Street Fighter IV and bring the characters to 3D, which is made even better by utilizing a cell-shaded art style. In this way, it truly looks like a living, breathing, playable comic book. Even the effects that go with specific animations look really, dare I say, cool alongside the art style of the game. Everything about this game's graphics and flow were very amazing to look at, and it will keep your eyes locked on the screen to see the next animation. Even if the characters don't have the same speed as the famed MvC 2, it does make it easier for players to pull off combo moves, which I think actually keeps the game fun and interesting for players of all skill levels.

As I said before, the game recycles the same 3v3 fighting system from the previous entry. While this allows for a variety of combinations and game balance, it is worth mentioning that the game's control scheme allows much easier access to making assists and performing Hyper Combos by mapping these actions to single buttons. This made it a lot easier for us to figure out the controls and really get into the game. I also found myself getting better at timing the button presses to call assists to get me out of tight situations, as well as utilizing Hyper Combos in more effective ways. For players who are not as well-versed in fighting games, or those who find the Normal control scheme too complex at first, there is now an option for a Simple control scheme, which allows you to perform flashier moves and easier access to various combos with much less effort. While this may be fun for newcomers, they should bear in mind that eventually they will need to shift over to the Normal controls if they want to build up more skill to face other players.

So what do I think of this game as a whole? Well, Marvel vs Capcom 3 is, in my opinion, one of the best fighting games ever made. Capcom has done a great job continuing their quality work with bringing back the glory of fighting games and making them fun again for a newer generation, as well as appealing to veterans. If you are a fan or veteran of fighting games, especially Street Fighter or Marvel vs Capcom, then there should be no hesitation in purchasing this game. If you are someone who is just discovering fighting games and want to jump into something to keep your interest, then consider obtaining a copy of this game. This is, quite simply, not a fighting game for anyone to miss out on.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Tim Schafer is known for his funny, yet relatively underappreciated games. With his new Double Fine studio, he created BrĂ¼tal Legend, a game which I personally enjoyed despite its flaws. Double Fine would then pump out a game called Costume Quest, a great Halloween-themed title that works for its small scale. Continuing this new direction of smaller games from the studio is Stacking, a title where you control Russian matryoshka dolls in the 1930's. An interesting concept indeed, and one that stands well as a downloadable title.

The story is very simple. You play as the smallest doll in the game, Charlie Blackmore, who has to rescue his family from an evil man simply known as The Baron. Staying true to the 1930's setting, the story is told through cutscenes resembling a silent film, something you don't really see in videogames. These cutscenes were very well done, placing the dolls on a stage and enacting the basic plot point revealed to the player. I was reminded of LittleBigPlanet in presentation, which kept me watching and wondering what would happen visually in the next one.

Charlie Blackmore has the ability to go behind other dolls onscreen and stack into another, as long as they are exactly one size larger. Once a doll is possessed by Charlie, the player can move around with them and use their special abilities, or continue to stack and unstack to possess different or bigger dolls. These abilities are used to solve various story-related or side challenges. Each challenge has multiple solutions, some of which are obvious, while others require more technical thinking to figure out, which may require combining the abilities of two dolls. For example, one side challenge is to sort out ticket lines. You can do this by possessing each doll individually and moving them to the appropriate line, or you can possess one doll for its Make Way! ability to scare the crowd and then possess another doll and use its Organize! ability to get the lines in proper order. Figuring out the more complicated solutions is rewarding in itself, and I had a fun time trying to figure some of them out. It was also fun to try and possess every single doll to figure out their abilities, as well as finding different combinations.

The visuals are really something. The 1930's setting is preserved perfectly in the designs of the dolls, which are detailed enough that you can tell every body part from one another. It is especially helpful in the doll design that their abilities are usually placed physically on some part of the doll, allowing you to pick them out in a crowd and set up various combinations with ease. The sound and physics also perfectly matched how they would work for such dolls in real life, making it especially intersting to look at and listen to. Speaking of sound, the music for the game was scored perfectly to reflect the setting as well the onscreen drama.

While gameplay is simple and easy to pick up, I do have some minor problems with it. First, the stacking ability targets whatever doll you are behind, but can sometimes cause you to possess a completely different doll much further away from your intended target. While it is easy to get used to, it doesn't really say something good about the targeting system, even though the problem didn't occur that often for me. The only other real gameplay problem I have is the save system. Just like Costume Quest, you are at the complete mercy of the game's Autosave function. While it is much easier than the other game to get it to Autosave, I was still disappointed at the lack of a manual Save function. Hopefully, this gets added in a patch or Double Fine actually puts one into their next game.

Stacking is a short game, clocking in at about 5 or 6 hours and has some minor issues, but it was an enjoyable title. I can safely recommend it to anyone, since I can't really imagine someone who wouldn't enjoy this game in one way or another.

Digger HD: A 1980's Classic Gets An Upgrade

In 1983, the Canadian company Windmill Software released a popular game called Digger. It was a game similar to Dig Dug where 1 or 2 players would dig tunnels to collect gems and gold while avoiding and killing monsters. On October 1, 2009, Creat Studios released an HD remake on PlayStation Network simply called Digger HD. The concept of the remake stays true to the original computer game, while adding some new features.

Within the main game, Arcade Mode, not only can you collect gold and use falling coin bags to kill monsters, there are also some power-ups mixed in with them. One of these power-ups resembles fire when dropped and allows you to move faster for a period of time, while another resembles a magic hat, and allows you to temporarily go through the environment and collect gems without even digging. Like in the original, you can also fire the Digger's eye to kill an enemy, at the cost of moving a little slower. On top of this, there's also a Survival Mode in which players go through as many levels as possible before dying (normally you have 3 lives). Both the Arcade and Survival Modes also have separate Co-Op Modes, allowing 2 local players to play at the same time. For those that have played the original Digger, this remake also comes with a Vintage Mode, in which you can play the original game in all its glory.

There's not that much to say about this game, but I would wholly recommend it to casual players, and especially to fans of the original Digger. This game is simple in concept, yet is challenging and addicting to play. Whether by yourself or playing with a friend, you'll have a great time with this game.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Green Hornet: Does It Have Any Sting?

In the last decade, there have been a slew of comic book movies, a practice that has seen a significant increase in quality. With movies such as Spiderman 2, The Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Watchmen, it appears that the comic book movie is here to stay, at least for now. The Green Hornet, on the other hand, was actually based on a radio series that ran from 1939-1950, including a brief return in the closing months of 1952. While the series can still be heard on the radio today, I will admit that I have not heard a single episode. Because of this, this review is based on the movie itself and whether or not it holds as such.

Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is a 28-year old slacker son of James Reid (Tom Wilkinson), who runs the newspaper The Sentinel. They don't have a good relationship, but that all changes for Britt after his father dies from an allergy to bee sting and he must take over running the paper. The day after the funeral, Britt gets to know Kato (Jay Chou), who worked as James' mechanic and who is a skilled martial artist. When Kato shows Britt the modifications he made to James' car, the Black Beauty, the two of them get drunk and saw the head off a statue of James. Britt witnesses a gang attacking a couple and the two of them end up rescuing them. After a frantic chase from the police, Britt realized he had fun saving people and convinces Kato that they should fight crime together. Kato accepts his proposal and they begin to protect the law by breaking it.

With this in mind, the story was a lot better than I expected, as it was more serious than the ads made it out to be. While it wasn't the best plot I had ever seen in a superhero movie, it was still pretty solid, mixing plenty of action sequences with a couple of lighthearted comedic moments. Thankfully, the comedy is conservatively peppered into the dialogue, which I think allowed the movie to be more serious and work in its favor. It was fun to watch and see what would happen next, even though it was easy to figure out what would generally happen in the plot.

The acting wasn't the best I had ever witnessed, but the characters were pulled off surprisingly well. The villain, Benjamin Chudnofsky (Christoph Waltz) was fun to watch, as he tried to look tough, but you could tell he was a little insecure about his criminal power, especially during his transition to calling himself "Bloodnofsky." Britt's secretary, Lenore Case (Cameron Diaz), didn't have as much depth as other characters, but she was still okay to observe. She mostly provides research on the Green Hornet since she has a degree in criminology, but it seemed a little odd that she wasn't seen as much as she could have. Most of the development in the movie is saved for Britt and Kato, who were pretty enjoyable characters. You could see how Britt goes from being a total slacker to a man of action, even acting like his father towards Kato later on. Kato has to deal with Britt's behavior, but it was interesting to see how he was able to put up with him, even continuing to help him when their friendship becomes razor thin. I'm not sure whether this cast was the best for the movie, but they were pretty enjoyable for what it turned out to be.

A good majority of the movie is action scenes, as probably expected from a superhero movie, and it was cool to watch. The special effects tied to the weaponry were very believable for the universe that was established and was pretty top notch by itself. The most fun I had was watching how much punishment the Black Beauty could possibly take before they even considered abandoning it in the climax. During the combat scenes with the characters, Kato takes center stage, showing off his martial arts skills combined with a sense of time slowing down when his heart is racing. His ability to detect every single weapon in view is visualized by targeting them in red. This was a neat effect and, as a gamer, reminded me of the V.A.T.S. targeting system from the Fallout series. There is also a sequence I particularly liked where the screen would continue to split as different criminals interacted with each other and split off to commit murder. While the action in the individual boxes was eventually difficult see, I was blown away by the fact that the timing of it was possible.

As for the music in the movie, most of it is licensed music. While not unexpected from a movie today, the choices they made were balanced and had appropriate placement and timing. It worked for the atmosphere of the movie and could work as a good soundtrack.

While I wasn't particularly looking forward to this movie, I found myself enjoying it surprisingly well. Overall, it wasn't of the best superhero movies I had ever seen, but it was fairly decent and held up as a film on its own. Although the movie didn't seem like good sequel material, it held up enough that I feel like actually listening to the radio series in the future. If you are looking for a decent 2 hours of entertainment, you may want to check this out. For huge fans of superhero or comic book movies, you may want to consider seeing this at least once, if only to have something to talk about until Thor and Captain America come out in the summer.

The Social Network: Friend or Unfriend?

File:Social network film poster.jpg

In the year 2004, Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg founded the social networking site Facebook. Over the years, as it gained more accessibility, the website became more and more popular, to where now anyone 13 or older can join. When the website was first launched, a few other Harvard students, who asked for Zuckerberg's help to create their own site prior to Facebook, filed a lawsuit for stealing their idea, which was eventually settled. In 2010, Columbia Pictures released a movie, The Social Network, about the founding of Facebook and the subsequent lawsuit. A lot of hype surrounded this movie before and after it came out, saying that it was one of the best movies that year. After seeing it, I can say that I liked it, but I'm not really sure I see what all the hype was about.

The movie begins in 2003, where we see Mark's girlfriend, Erica Albright, break up with him. While drunk, Mark posts mean things about her in his blog, and hacks into other servers to create a site called FaceMash, where the faces of two female college studednts are put side-by-side and male students decide on which one is hotter. The popularity of the site crashes Harvard computers, causing lawsuits to Zuckerberg on charges of hacking and invasion of privacy; these charges are dropped, causing him to nearly dodge expulsion with six months of academic probation. After hearing about this, Mark is apporached by twin Harvard rowers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who are impressed by his work and request him to help create a site where fellow Harvard students can interact online, called HarvardConnection. After helping to get the site running, Mark uses the concept of the site to create his own, called Thefacebook. Eventually, the Winklevoss twins learn about this, and later file a lawsuit.

Before I go into any more detail, I should mention that this movie is also based on a book, The Accidental Billionaires, by Ben Mezrich. Since I have not read the book, I will be discussing the film based on it's own merits. For starters, the story, based on what I saw, was well thought out and easy to follow. This movie takes itself very seriously, with a couple funny bits in the dialogue to prevent it from becoming too serious. After reading a little about the history of Facebook afterwards, I can say that the events are fairly accurate to what happened in real life.

The acting was also done rather nicely, especially the performance of Jesse Eisenberg as Mark Zuckerberg. In the movie, Mark comes off as a bit of a jerk, but Eisenberg pulls it off so well that it actually seems believable. Justin Timberlake also pulls off his part as Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster, rather well, though also coming across as a jerk. It was also rather interesting to find out, after seeing this movie, that the Winklevoss twins were both played by the same actor. I was actually convinced that they really were twins.

One thing that I think should get special mention is the music, composed by Trent Reznor, the frontman and sole member of Nine Inch Nails, and Atticus Ross. It was more of a combination between Electronica and Industrial, and fit the movie quite nicely. A few songs in the movie were taken from other bands, including The White Strips and The Beatles, but still worked for the movie when they were used.

The Social Network is a movie worth watching at least once. It's actually quite interesting to see how well the characters are pulled off and how believable they seem. There's a lot of action going on in it, but it's all quite subtle. The movie didn't exactly live up to the hype for me, but it was still enjoyable nonetheless. On that note, I suggest you check it out and see for yourself.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

Star Wars games can be pretty hit and miss, but more recently have had a pretty solid run. One of these games was called The Force Unleashed, which had a unique idea behind it in that you play as a secret apprentice of Darth Vader codenamed Starkiller. The game had its own flaws, but it had a lot of potential going for it and a sequel seemed natural, if not inevitable. I wouldn't say that it was a classic, but it was at least a guilty pleasure for me, and I was really looking forward to its sequel. Now that I have played it, I can say it still has a ways to go.

The game takes place a good while after the first game, now with the player controlling a clone of Starkiller. After failing to kill a facsimile of Juno Eclipse, from the previous game, Vader claims him to be a failed experiment and plans to discard him. However, Starkiller escapes with the intent of finding Juno to make sure that she is still alive, as well as figuring out just what he is. As you can probably tell, the plot is more personal than before, but that's not really a bad thing. I liked the direction the game took and really wanted to see it unfold. While the story was fun to see, it could be a little predictable at times, but those moments don't really detract from it. It was written well, but isn't really required to understand the movie canon, in fact feeling more self-contained.

The characters retain their voices from the last game, so it was nice that the voices were familiar. I thought the performances were done pretty well, but there are a couple of minor things to point out. For one, General Kota is especially hammy in this game, which made some serious moments funnier than they should have been. Also, while Boba Fett and Yoda do make cameo appearances, their scenes were a little forgettable, as I only really focused on what was going on with Starkiller.

While I was fond of the gameplay of the first game, I did want to see some more variety, which, thankfully, this game provides. Players can now wield two light sabers at once, with different crystals found in the game providing different bonuses. These crystals can be mixed and matched, creating some rather interesting, and effective, combinations depending on what you want to do. Some of these combinations are more situational, however, such as combining crystals that grant health bonuses or crystals that deal with your Force Powers by lowering their cost to use or increasing their effectiveness. But most importantly, this allows players with differing play styles to get the most fun out of the game. The different costumes are also fun to wear, including a cameo in this manner by Guybrush Threepwood from the Monkey Island series of games.

Speaking of Force Powers, one of the few new additions is the ability to use the Jedi Mind Trick. Using this power allows you to control the thoughts of your enemies, be it turning against their own allies or committing suicide. However, there is limited use for this power. Some enemies are unaffected by this power, so its use is less effective as you get deeper into the game. Also, the thought you put in their head if you are successful is random, so you may have to try a few attempts before getting them to do exactly what you want. It was a nice addition, but it could have been more satisfying if there was more of a use for it.

The combat is a combination of both melee with the light sabers and the force powers, which can be very satisfying at times, but sometimes not as much as you would hope. New enemy types are introduced throughout the game, but just by looking at a wave you can tell what to do. By this, I mean that I was able to figure out the most effective order to taking out the enemies, made easier by the fact that some enemies with spotty AI will stay in one spot the entire time or have very little variety in their tactics. While there could be some challenge, it could still sometimes be disappointing. It seemed really to depend on the scenario at hand. I also noticed that the quick-time events were changed from the first game. This is fine, but I couldn't help thinking of God of War III the entire time due to using the same scheme of mapping the button presses to the sides of the screen. Even with this innovation, it wasn't as satisfying as it could have been, since you can easily memorize the commands to input at this time.

Going back to the sound design, I thought the score fit the tone of the game very well and was very enjoyable to listen to. However, there were some times when the music would cut in and out, even stopping completely. Sometimes, there was no sound at all during an in-mission cutscene, which wasn't particularly fun, especially if all you have are the sounds of everything else. The general sound effects, however, were appropriate for the various interactions and felt in place with the universe they fit in. Still, I wasn't able to find out the cause of the sound issue, so we may have to wait for a patch to fix that small problem.

Looking at the game, you can tell that the graphics aren't the best around, but they look and flow amazingly well. The game looks much more impressive in the pre-rendered cut scenes, so it is sometimes worth playing through the levels just to see the next one. The textures matched each area, making the levels feel more unique, even when most of what you see is the Empire's color scheme of grays and blacks. The designs of the levels were fairly straightforward, so it's very easy to navigate through the game. This can be good or bad depending on your perspective, but I thought that it could feel a little too easy to get through the levels, so there wasn't as much fun in them as I had hoped.

The biggest part of the game's story comes at the end, where you must choose between joining the Light Side or the Dark Side. Both endings are, of course, different, but being satisfactory is entirely left up to your own opinion. To me, the Light Side ending concluded the self-contained universe better, while the Dark Side ending felt more in line with the Star Wars canon. Either way, it’s at least 7 hours of gameplay to get there, which is fairly average these days. In some ways, it felt a little too short, but I can't really complain.

While Force Unleashed II had some innovations, they were fairly minor and sometimes darn near useless. I appreciated the game for what it was worth, but it isn't a game I would recommend to most people, I myself considering it more like one of gaming's guilty pleasures. I might play it again down the road, but I don't see that happening in the near future, especially since there are better games out there. If you are a fan of the previous game, a huge Star Wars nut, or are looking for a decent rental game, be sure to check this one out. Otherwise, I would suggest looking at other reviews of this game before taking a full purchase into consideration.