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In the long run-up to the release of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed this September, developer LucasArts has been making a big deal about how the star of the show will be the Force itself, cranked up to ridiculous levels and with no limits or constraints. Packed in along with that destructive awesomeness is a darker-than-normal storyline, which puts players into the role of Starkiller, a secret Sith apprentice raised by Darth Vader to travel the galaxy, hunt down surviving Jedi and murder them.
During our latest play session with The Force Unleashed, though, we couldn't help but feel just a little stifled. TFU puts some hyper-destructive Force powers at your disposal, sure, but where's the blood? The brutality? The evil? If you're going to put nigh-unlimited Force power into the hands of a badass, totally amoral Sith lord, then you need to go all the way. With that in mind, here's a wish list of things The Force Unleashed should include, but almost definitely won't.
This one's just a matter of basic physics. If you can pick up AT-ST walkers and crumple them like discarded drafts of a manuscript, you should be able to do the same with someone's head, Scanners-style. It's not a stretch, either - both Starkiller and Vader can freely Force-choke their victims to death; turning that into a head-squish instead of a throat-crush would just be a matter of moving the Force focus up a few inches. And besides, it's not like gore is anything new to Star Wars (see the child-traumatizing severed arm from A New Hope for evidence).
If LucasArts doesn't want to show bloody skull-chunks splattering everywhere, there are still ways exploding heads could be implemented. They could, for example, be implied offscreen as a coda to one of the lengthy, button-mashing quicktime events Starkiller uses to execute his Jedi targets. Just think how satisfying it would be if, instead of hurling them off a cliff or into space or some other possibly survivable "death," he simply lifted one up off the ground and just crushed their stupid, do-gooding head. Wouldn't that make you feel like a real bad guy? And wouldn't that make Starkiller's possible, eventual redemption that much more meaningful?
LucasArts is already doing a fantastic job of giving Force Unleashed's characters a striking, subtle emotional range that lets them communicate volumes without words - why not extend that characterization to horrific acts of violence, too?
Sith lords are the opposite of Jedi knights. Where Jedi try to deny their emotions and drives, Sith embrace them. Also, Sith are really, really horrible people who see other beings as pawns to be used and thrown away once they've outlived their purpose. With that in mind, do you really see Darth Vader or Emperor Palpatine having a problem with Forced romance? Can you imagine that people who've enslaved entire star systems, laid waste to planets and sacrificed countless lives to get what they want would balk at using the Dark Side to slither their way into a woman's pants?
Above: "You WILL leave this bar with me. And you WILL do the weird stuff"
We understand why LucasArts doesn't want to introduce dicey subjects like this into the Star Wars universe, and we're not suggesting that mind tricks should become the new Rohypnol. But think: Force Unleashed's central theme is that it removes all constraints on the use of Force powers. If you're going to be truly unconstrained, and if you're going to be as evil as Starkiller and Vader, wouldn't it be more evil to see them misuse the Force for their own base ends?
And wouldn't it make Darth Vader a lot less cool, and a whole lot creepier, if he tried to seduce Starkiller's pilot/love interest Juno Eclipse with a wave of his hand?
It's also been suggested around our office that this could be taken a step further, by enabling players to use the Force to rip the clothes off of potential mates. But come on - that's just silly.
The best Star Wars action game made to date, hands-down, is Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, and here's why: the PC version had a cheat code that enabled dismemberment. If you've played it, then you know there's nothing quite like the singular thrill of hurling your lightsaber into a crowd of Stormtroopers and watching as they yelp and tumble apart into cauterized chunks, or of snipping off an alien's arm by just walking up to him and letting the saber make contact.
And really, that's the only way it makes sense. Lightsabers, as we saw in Episode I, can cut through reinforced blast doors. And in Force Unleashed, they can slice metal droids in half with one stroke. Human flesh and Stormtrooper armor should therefore present absolutely no obstacle to them.
That's what you'd think, anyway. But for all the dark mutterings that surround Force Unleashed, LucasArts is firm in its desire to make it a T-rated title, which means you won't see realistic depictions of what happens when lightsabers meet limbs. In fact, it'll take several swipes from a saber to kill even one lightly armored Rebel militiaman. You'll get better results by chucking a crate at his head. Force Unleashed, indeed.