How come America never gets the cool stuff?
With Tim Burton’s version of “Alice In Wonderland” currently in production, we can only imagine what this visionary director can come up with. With knowledge that Johnny Depp would be portraying The Mad Hatter, this image has found its way around the internet. Is this the first image of Depp as The Mad Hatter? What do you think?
There’s been hype about it. There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this LucasArts title ever since it was announced. I remember many times, I’ve had friends I’ve talked to say that they can’t wait for this game. The biggest appeal, broad use of the Force within the game ultimately falls rather short.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is an interesting title, inspired to fit within the dual trilogy canon. The events of this game takes place within the two decades between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. You take control of the nameless secret apprentice of Darth Vader, who is plotting an upheaval of Emperor Palpatine. Known only as Starkiller (Luke Skywalker’s conceptual surname), you as the Apprentice are sent on Jedi manhunts and other various missions at the immediate request of Darth Vader (Who unfortunately is not voiced by James Earl Jones). Along the way you have a token goofy robot sidekick and an headstrong female pilot who will serve as a love interest for the Apprentice in the story. While the story itself is well told as best as LucasArts can and its visuals are pretty good, the main fault of this game lies in the gameplay. So I can get this out of the way, the best parts of the TFU is it’s superb facial capture, but now onto what’s bad.
The controls are horrendous, plainly put. The camera angles often are cumbersome and during battle, it’s recenter function does not really function. It recenters for a split second and will overcompensate, something that is very difficult to work with in situations (and there are many) where you will be fighting multiple enemies and trying to dispatch them as fast as you can. On the subject of multiple enemies, the targeting system simply does not work. When you are faced with the many targets you can pick from, the selected target is very hard to see, and the camera is not locked so you may be targeted on something but you can’t see it on your screen. On top of that, you can also lock targets on the many many objects in the game on which you can use your Force telekinesis, so quickly selecting a target is undoubtedly infuriating.
As for the enemies themselves, they fall into the categories of rebels and empire troops, as in everyone’s familiar Star Wars fashion. But only the die hard fans will really care to notice, since they’re all out to kill you regardless. Seemingly, when it comes to basic grunts, they’re unimaginative; they only shoot, rapid shoot or try to prod you with their stun rods. One of my own personal complaints are the rapid shooting enemies. It seems that they don’t really need to reload and can fire incessantly (but then again it’s a laser weapon, who needs to reload anyway, right?) so within the concept of balance, leaves you standing there holding the guard button and repelling laser shots. Of course these shots are not immediately deadly, but a minor annoyance you have to deal with from the onset of the game and oftentimes enemies have an impenetrable defense…. to a lightsaber, but then again if you can cut through anything but other lightsabers, where would be the fun?
As for the battle system, there are several elements that could have used more work as well. The lightsaber combos are initially imaginative, but quickly get dull. There seems to be no real benefit to stringing together a flashy looking combo, as there is in the Devil May Cry series. The damage benefit is mostly negligible, as simple one button presses seem to suffice. Unlike God of War, Ninja Gaiden and Heavenly Sword, where combo damage and really sets in the fun of those respective games. Like the above mentioned games however, there are points to be distributed to build your characters stats. Speaking of point distribution, you can’t really change your mind either. So if you were to happen to accidentally put a point in something you didn’t want, you can’t take the point off and redistribute, and there is no confimation message. That is something that can always be patched of course.
Now, onto the marketing point of The Force Unleashed, the force powers. Force lightning, force push, yeah those are there, nothing new about that. But here you can pick up nearly any object (including enemies) and toss them at will. Even this feature wasn’t as will implemented as planned. You control an object you pick up with your Force powers and control them on the X & Y axis on the Left Stick and the Z axis on the Right Stick. However simple that sounds, it doesn’t feel natural to use to throw objects at your enemies, there is no aiming assist and when you release your Force button the object will be thrown in a general direction which you were holding with the Right Stick.
If you’re looking for an easy game to pick up, this really isn’t it. If you’re a Star Wars fan and want to fill in the gaps, by all means pick this title up. I found this game to be particularly difficult to play through and I could not recommend it to anyone else other than those who just want to experience a story that is actually in the canon. It’s not entirely unplayable, but I can say you won’t get through certain parts without wanting to snap your controller in half.
When one watches a movie that was scored by the legendary Danny Elfman, known for composing the music for most of Tim Burton’s classics like “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and “Edward Scissorhands” and fronting the popular 80’s rock band Oingo Boingo, the soundtrack can easily be pinned to Elfman’s unique style. When recent news dropped that Elfman would be composing the score for the upcoming remake of Universal’s “The Wolfman”, critics were quick to react. According to an article on /film:
AICN has gotten word that Danny Elfman is scoring Universal’s remake of The Wolfman. Elfman has always been hit or miss for me, and I’m not sure The Wolfman will play to his strengths.
Though /film and AICN have a valid point in that Elfman has a very particular style that could not easily fit the motif of “The Wolfman”, they seem to be forgetting the diversity that Elfman has brought to many movies and television shows. Elfman’s compositions range from not only the music for the film “Chicago” and the title music for “Desperate Housewives” but his score is also heard in movies like “The Hulk” and “Spiderman”. Danny Elfman is nothing short of a musical genius and to question his diversity for the remake of “The Wolfman” is premature. Being a major fan of both Danny Elfman the frontman for Oingo Boingo and Danny Elfman the composer, I am convinced that he could write a score that could fit the theme and emotion of the movie whether it is subtle in nature or the musical style that we have come to love from him over the past 30 years.
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Here are some mock ups of potential characters we might see in a 3rd installment of Chris Nolan’s “Batman” series. The artist used Kristen Bell to create his version of Harley Quinn which I found very intriguing but I can’t say I’m a fan of the Catwoman. Either way, the work that went into these is great and you can check out the images you see here among others at the artist’s page HERE.