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A Tale of Two Demos

It's been a while since I've seen such blatantly bad design, but with Force Unleashed II I'm now twice bitten. Take a note from Vanquish, LucasArts, on how to properly kill the people playing your games.

Reposted from my blog.

The Force Unleashed II

Epic Landing

I would love to be excited for Force Unleashed II, having played the first one and enjoying it despite a few misgivings.

However, after playing II’s demo (playing through the demo of the first game was probably my best experience with that title) it seems the second game hasn’t really improved upon the first at all in terms of the general quality of experience. In fact, the developers seem to be outright antagonizing the player now.

How else do you explain being given an exhilarating sequence where you fall from a skyscraper and then land safely using force magic, but then, if you try to jump out another large window that’s right in front of you immediately after landing, you instantly die.

Not only were my hopes dashed of continuing the previous sequence, I was outright killed. Communication in games is important, and if in the game’s first few minutes you say, “Hey it’s cool to jump out of skyscrapers, check this out” and then 10 seconds later say, “Whoa now what’s wrong with you stop jumping from high places” I start suspecting the rest of the game might be just as confusing and arbitrary.


Laser Death

I’d like to contrast this to Vanquish’s demo, where I died far more often but never felt so wronged. In Vanquish’s demo you can take cover to avoid nearly every attack. Even if missiles are exploding on the other side of a cement roadblock you’re ok.

But then comes a boss who has a large laser attack that pretty much ignores any cover. It took me a few deaths to figure out I wasn’t doing anything wrong but in fact the laser just kill everything within it and that I should be dodging out of it.

They could have communicated that better as well, but at least they don’t tell me to take cover to avoid the robots laser one minute and then have the laser kill me while taking cover in the next.

I’ll probably skip out on Force Unleashed II, there are just too many other quality games out right now/on the horizon (in fact I should probably finally get to playing through Dark Forces II or Jedi Knight or whatever it’s called).

It’s really frustrating and disappointing because the Star Wars universe is really great to revisit but LucasArts really needs someone to light a fire under their asses. Come on guys, step up your game! You’re frickin’ LucasArts!

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