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Above: More of this, please, without everything that made it, um, terrible
Remember the first Force Unleashed? That was rough. It had a lot of promise, failed to fully meet its potential, and a second chance brought us something we loved. At the same time, The Force Unleashed II let us down in new, different ways that made us want to give it a second second chance.
The disappointment: Starkiller's second outing had enough style to compensate for its lack of substance, but the missing pieces blue-balled us pretty bad. The story – revenge against that dickbag Darth Vader (who made for one of the worst boss battles of the current console generation) – had a great opener, but it ended with a long, lame boss fight and a cliffhanger so weak, Halo 2 still makes fun of it. The Force Unleashed II sets itself up for a sequel when it should have kept going, and the premise behind what would be the third game is the same as the second – "Grr, that Darth Vader and the Emperor used me, argh, I'm so mad!" That it lasted one-third the length of its predecessor really stung, too. We signed up for more kickass Jedi shenanigans, and it was cut short just as we hit our stride.
Why we need a sequel: We really enjoy this canonical bridge between the two trilogies, and we'd like to see Starkiller's story close, if only to find out what happened to him. Really, though, we're pumped to see what kind of damage an ultra-pissed-off Sith-with-a-heart-of-gold can inflict on the Empire after everything he's been through. We saw a huge leap forward with the combat in TFU2 as well, which would only mean great things for us in another game. Most important of all, the idea of a Star Wars series with only two entries gives us a mild stroke. You're literally killing us, LucasArts.
Above: "Yes, space-Michelle Williams, I am ashamed of what I've done. Stop asking"
Space Vikings. Just let that phrase sink in for a minute. Feel that? That's arousal. Too Human had everything it needed to grab us by the balls regardless of its lengthy and troubled development cycle. We got everything we wanted from the concept, really. We still sighed "Oh, honey" a whole bunch of times, though.
The disappointment: Oh, technical problems. Silicon Knights head honcho Dennis Dyack has been vocal about the studio's issues using Unreal Engine 3 to make Too Human. It shows. Textures load slowly, the frame rate dropped, characters clipped through each other... the list of visual weirdness goes on, and it severed the story's illusion. The analog stick-only combat didn't fly with a lot of people, and with good reason. It looked strange as the protagonist, Baldur, slid between enemies, and the constant herky-jerkiness of wildly flicking a stick was uncomfortable. Where Too Human really went off the rails, though, was with its nigh-incomprehensible story. We recognized a lot of Norse names, but we didn't understand anyone's motivation for anything happening on screen. Too Human was nonsense.
Why we need a sequel: First off, do you remember the ending to Too Human? Loki has that big-ass titan thing! That was pretty cool, things were gonna heat up. Ragnarok, and all that. Secondly, we repeat: Space. Vikings. Whether or not you liked Too Human, its sci-fi look and story are some phenomenal building blocks for a great franchise. It doesn't have to be spoiled forever. A second game could come out strong and swing for the fences with some cool new ideas and a clearer presentation. We're hoping Dyack is taking a bit of his own advice and holding off on showing it to anyone until it's ready. We'd love to mess up some robots and loot their corpses with some pals again.
Above: Admittedly, the part in Alpha Protocol where we kicked everyone's head was friggin' rad
We loved the idea of Obsidian working on an original IP instead of picking up other franchises' sloppy seconds. Better still, a solid spy game, complete with role-playing upgrades, terrorists to kung-fu kick and women to woo, was long overdue. The long-term benefits and consequences of its conversation system were great, and the slower pace let us sink into its believable world. What could possibly go wrong?
The disappointment: Well, the combat didn't feel great, the atrocious A.I. destroyed the satisfaction of outsmarting enemies with stealth, and it didn't have a lot of original ideas. Alpha Protocol rarely colored outside the lines, so it ended up constrained by its straightforward and repetitive missions. Obsidian isn't exactly known for making stable games, either, and Alpha Protocol is its prime demonstration of this; it was plenty buggy.
Why we need a sequel: Secret agent stuff isn't as common as we'd like in gaming. If Activision is going to keep cranking out crap James Bond games for the sake of keeping the license, Alpha Protocol could monopolize the "good" corner of the spy market with a great sequel. It had some memorable characters, but the game didn't spend enough time letting us get to know them very well. We'd love to see Nolan North's sociopathic madman Steven Heck return in a bigger, stronger, more ambitious Alpha Protocol.