- Tyler Campobasso
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Another gem of a story in the Expanded Universe, The Force Unleashed burst onto the scene in 2008. The video game was part of a larger multimedia project, one not unlike the Shadows of the Empire mmp from 1996. The game was released alongside a novelization, comic adaptation, a new rpg sourcebook, and a galaxy’s worth of toys. The success of The Force Unleashed led to a sequel game in 2010, The Force Unleashed II.
The main story follows the secret apprentice of Darth Vader, Galen Marek. Codenamed Starkiller, you take control and track down the last of the Jedi wandering the galaxy. Alongside Starkiller is his loyal pilot Juno Eclipse and his maniacal droid PROXY. The story begins with a prologue in 18 BBY, with another Imperial invasion of Kashyyyk. While on Kashyyyk, Darth Vader finds and kills a Jedi survivor Kento Marek, Galen’s father. Vader discovers Galen’s strong potential with the Force and takes him as an apprentice.
Fast forward 15 years and the main game begins. Starkiller is tasked with hunting down Jedi Master Rahm Kota. Kota did not trust the clone troopers and instead employed his own militia during the Clone Wars. With no clones, Kota was able to easily survive Order 66 and dodge the Jedi Purge. In recent months however, he had been attacking Imperial installations and garnered the attention of Vader. Starkiller finds Kota above Nar Shaddaa, blinds and defeats Kota, and seemingly kills him. Before Kota is sent out into the atmosphere of Nar Shaddaa, he mentions that he sensed Starkiller’s future, and that Kota would be a part of it.
With a job well done, Starkiller is off to the junk world of Raxus Prime to track down the crazed Jedi Kazdan Paratus. Paratus has built his own junk Jedi Temple, complete with junk statues of every Jedi Master. This portion is described more in the novel, as Starkiller fights fake incarnations of each Jedi Council member. Paratus is killed and Starkiller heads off to Felucia to find and kill Shaak Ti. Yes, one of her many deaths, but this one is the definitive EU death for Shaak Ti. Vader tells his apprentice that this was the last test he needed to pass before he would become strong enough to take on the Emperor at Vader’s side. Starkiller butchers his way through Rancors and Felucians on his path to the Jedi Master. Shaak Ti is outmatched in their duel and Starkiller defeats her. Ti tells the assassin that the Sith always betray each other and he would just be another victim of their cruelty. then lets herself die, as she falls into a Sarlacc pit, not before Starkiller reaches out to try to catch her unsuccessfully. He has no idea why he reached out to save her, something he questions that becomes clear later on.
Starkiller returns to Vader, believing that now was their time to destroy the Emperor. As the Emperor appears on board the Executor, Vader impales Starkiller through the chest with his lightsaber. It appears that Vader kills his apprentice, although it was a ruse. Starkiller awakens in an unspecified location, with Vader by his side. Vader explains how he needed the Emperor to believe he killed his “secret” apprentice (It’s all a ploy by Vader anyway). Vader gives his apprentice his new task: assemble an alliance of the Empire’s enemies that can be strong enough to overthrow him. Starkiller reluctantly agrees, although his loyalty has been shaken substantially. He learns he is onboard the Empirical, a research and laboratory ship under Vader's command. Starkiller escapes the ship, along with Juno and PROXY. Now without any precise orders, Starkiller sets out to find Kota, who said he would be part of the young man’s future.
Kota is found on Bespin, hanging out by himself in a bar. The former Jedi Master has turned into a drunk hermit without his eyes. Kota recognizes his former assailant almost immediately, but feels no danger from him. Together they escape Stormtroopers and Ugnaughts, essentially giving Starkiller a new master. The quest to build a rebellion is eased by Kota’s connections in the Imperial Senate, most notably Bail Organa. The next mission is to rescue an unidentified prisoner being held on Kashyyyk. The lack of information irritates Starkiller, but he needs all the help he can get. It is on Kashyyyk that Starkiller comes across his childhood home and receives a vision from his father, killed by Vader all those years ago. Galen is left confused by the vision, yet he knows the dark side is not the way for him. The prisoner Galen rescues turns out to be none other than Princess Leia Organa, who had been taken into custody to force Bail Organa to stop speaking out against the Empire. When Galen returns after freeing Leia, Kota informs him that Organa has been out of contact and they fear the worst. Organa had gone to Felucia to find Shaak Ti to help rescue Leia. Starkiller fears that Kota knows what happened the last time he was on Felucia, but he attempts to hide his thoughts.
On Felucia Galen finds Organa and Maris Brood, former apprentice of Shaak Ti. Brood had been corrupted heavily by the dark side. Galen gains the upper hand on her during their fight, and allows her to flee with her life. This marks a large net shift for Galen in the Force. His dark side days are over, the path of a Jedi is ahead of him. With Organa saved and Leia before him, Bail pledges himself and his resources to Galen. With the seeds of rebellion being sown, Vader contacts his former apprentice and orders him to strike an important Imperial target to send a message to the Emperor. He chooses an Imperial shipyard over the planet of Raxus Prime. It is here we get the iconic scene of Galen guiding a falling Star Destroyer to the ground with the Force. He destroys the shipyard and slows some production of the Empire’s navy.
After the events on Raxus Prime, the rebel leaders converge on Corellia to sign the famed Corellian Treaty. Present is Bail Organa, Mon Mothma, Garm Bel Iblis, Leia (as PROXY’s hologram), Galen and Kota. As they sign and declare open rebellion, Vader ambushes the meeting with his fleet and takes the leaders captive. Vader duels Galen and has him on a cliff, when Obi-Wan Kenobi lashes at Vader. Vader impales the Jedi, revealing PROXY’s droid body. Galen disappears while Vader is distracted and picked up by Juno.
This begins the final act, Galen meditates like a Jedi and sees his new allies in trouble aboard a giant space station. He finds them aboard the Death Star after fighting through hoards of stormtroopers and other Imperial troopers. The Emperor explains to the Rebels that they will be executed for their treason and sends Vader to deal with the apprentice. An epic duel ensues and Galen gains the upper hand on Vader. It is at this time Kota attempts to rush the Emperor and kill him, causing Palpatine to unleash his lightning on the Jedi Master. Galen interrupts and fights Palpatine alone. They reach a stalemate, but the Emperor overpowers the young Jedi. Galen sacrifices himself and allows his allies to escape with Juno from the Death Star.
Honoring his memory, the rebel leaders meet at Galen’s former home on Kashyyyk and unveil the symbol for the Rebellion and repeat their declaration to free the galaxy. Kota and Juno share a brief moment where he mentions to her that Juno is the reason Galen became a Jedi.
This game also has some dlcs, including a Jedi Temple mission, and some dark side missions. The final mission includes a choice to fight the Emperor (the canon ending), or kill Vader. If you choose to kill Vader then the rebel leaders are killed and Starkiller becomes Palpatine’s apprentice unwillingly. The two dark side missions play through A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Lord Starkilelr fights Boba Fett, Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker in an Infinities story. The Force Unleashed also has more levels in the PS2/Xbox versions of the game. Some of these missions include more Jedi Temple trips and a level where Galen rescues Garm Bel Iblis from a Mandalorian on Bespin.
I absolutely love this game. I replay it at least once a year and still love it as much as I did when I first played it. The gameplay is good and the Force physics are really impressive. You can throw stormtroopers, some troopers will try to grab onto a railing or another trooper, you can disintegrate enemies with one move and more. This game is another I highly, highly recommend.