Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Force Unleashed - Finally!

I bought “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II” about a month ago, but could never play it, because all in a sudden not just this game, but also its predecessor had developed a serious graphics glitch. Now, out of the blue, everything is back to normal (for the moment) and I immediately grabbed the chance to play through the game (before my computer decided to go back to this glitch).

At the end of the first game, there’s not exactly a high chance of the main character, Starkiller, coming back for more. If you choose the good end, the guy’s dead, if you choose the bad end, he’s replaced Darth Vader (and my “Ultimate Sith Edition” offers two interesting stories of what might have gone different – the first ending with Obi-Wan dying a bit earlier, the second ending with Luke Skywalker as a Sith apprentice at Starkiller’s side). But, hey, what’s cloning for? Sequels, that’s what.

I’ve had a lot of time to read about the game after I bought it, but before I could buy it, and now I’m ready to add my own two cent to it.

The gameplay works very much like in the first game – no problem there, apart for the fuzzy Force control (but once you’ve learned it, you’ll hit your target in 90% of all cases). The characters are well-known for most parts, they look a bit better in the cutscenes (no surprise here, CGI movies get better and better, don’t they) and most of the abilities are also back.

Story was one of the strong points of the first game. It was motivating (even with the ‘pull down the star destroyer with the force’ part in level 8) and highly interesting. From the moment Darth Vader picked up his future apprentice (on the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk) to the final decision of whether to be good or bad (I did not, just to make this crystal clear, choose the ‘good’ end, because I wholeheartedly felt like it, but because after one fight with Darth Vader I thought the Emperor himself the easier opponent – and I was right, too).

Story is one of the weak points of the second game – which is strange, considering there’s quite a long novel to the game. But what the novel tells (the meandering paths of both Starkiller … or his clone? … and Juno Eclipse, the love of his … former? … life) is omitted from the game. The cutscenes tell a story, too, but it’s neither as logical nor as complete as the one in the novel. While playing the game, I could add my knowledge of what else had happened to the scenes and thus make it ‘complete’. Without knowledge of the novel, I would have found the story rather thin.

The game is rather short, too … only five levels (albeit four of them are quite long – the Dagobah mission is very short, but features my favourite retired jedi … Yoda, of course). You can, with a bit of luck (and less falling than me) get through the whole game in five hours. But it will be five nice hours, at least, filled with killing stormtroopers, killing Sith apprentices, destroying walkers of various kinds (ATSTs and a few huge droids), killing more stormtroopers, killing Starkiller clones, defeating a monster, a spider droid and finally Darth Vader himself, of course. Tough luck for a Sith Lord to end up as a prisoner of the Rebellion…

I also have to say Darth Vader has been in better shape before, the fight against him on the Death Star in the first game was far more difficult than the fight this time (despite this fight being longer).

And I have to admit that Starkiller’s style of holding his lightsabers (yup, two of ‘em) with the blades pointing backwards looks a bit strange. (And here the useless piece of Star Wars history: Originally, George Lucas wanted to name the hero of his movie[s] not Skywalker, but Starkiller.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weekend Update

It’s a weekend and this winter’s first snow. Since the day before yesterday it has been snowing here and we have some nice, white bushes out there at the moment – but the ground isn’t cold enough and thus the streets and walkways are free.

  • DVD to watch: “P.G. Wodehouses Jeeves & Wooster” Episodes 1-13 (how far I get)
  • Book to read: still the “MYTH” series
  • Game to play: probably either “Torchlight” or “Drakensang”

Ah, weekend…

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

MCF dilemma

I have a bit of a dilemma at the moment. Until recently, I used to regularly buy games from BFG – from the US-site (that’s important in this case). At the moment I’m preparing to leave the site and this is why.

As a customer from outside the US, I had set my pricing to USD (as the US dollar is weaker than the Euro and so I saved some money). I was used to the VAT being added to the game price – it’s the same on every US-site. But now, BFG doesn’t just add the VAT, they add more to the price to make it – and I’m quoting here – ‘visually pleasing.’ In other words: I pay more per game than just regular US price plus VAT – and they claim it’s to make the price look better. I’ve no problem with, for instance, $8.34 as the final price for a game – and to me it looks a lot more ‘pleasing’ than $8.99. So I’ve decided to quit my membership and stop buying games as soon as I’ve cashed my last credits there (as I’m not going to hand money already paid over to them for nothing).

But now it’s the day before Thanksgiving in the US and the new Mystery Case Files game, “The 13th Skull” is Tomorrow’s Game Today (meaning members get to buy the game one day before the rest of the customers). It’s the collector’s edition (more expensive, but with additional content) and normally I would have bought it outright. But this time … I’ve heard so many bad things about the game before (buggy, with real actors – still not good in games and the MCF always had a ‘lone wolf’ looking for clues). I’m not going to pay more than a US customer (aside from VAT, of course) for the game, either. ($13.99 plus VAT still is less than $17.99, the current ‘visually pleasing’ price for non-US customers.)

I’d like to have the new game – I’ve bought and played all the others before … heck, I’m currently running an informal MCF challenge over at the Pub. I’d also like to stay with BFG, because most of the time they did okay (apart from the Dracula 3 issue a couple of weeks ago). But they didn’t even explain it to us – us non-US customers buying from the US site at US prices (plus VAT). No email or other notification. Those who are no member of the Pub or read the forum at BFG will not even know why they’re suddenly charged more. Simple calculation (not by me, copying here): 50 % of the US site’s customers are non-US residents (according to an interview with the owner of BFG), only about 5 % of the customers (US or otherwise) read the forum entries. This means that 97.5 % of all non-US customers have no idea why the prices for them have just gotten up (50 % of 5 % are 2.5 %, 100 % minus 2.5 % are 97.5 %)

What to do? I guess the abysmal quality of the new release (release and first fixed release on the same day) and the bad reviews I’ve read over at the Pub are helping here: not buying.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


That computer probably belongs to someone from the CIA or MI5…

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lovechild of a special kind

The secret lovechild of Dexter (Dexter’s Lab, cartoon series) and Dexter (from the TV series/novels)…

Weekend Update

Another weekend – even sunny this time – and another weekend update. Those are the plans for today.

  • DVD to watch: no real plan, but I’ll find something
  • Book to read: still working my way through the ‘MYTH’ adventures
  • Game to play: probably “The Sims 3”

Ah, weekend…