I have long suspected that the Star Wars franchise was in decline. After a several-hour romp through LucasArts latest Jedi jaunt, my suspicions have been realized. Even for fans of the ongoing battle between the Jedi and the Sith, this game is an entirely forgettable series of explosions, blasts of lightning, and force pushes. If you must play this game, you should know what you’re getting into.
Having finally finished the first Star Wars: The Force Unleashed game, I found it an interesting and engaging bit of fanboy fiction. The story, if unnecessary, was solid as a bridging vehicle between the first and second film trilogies. It offered gamers the chance to see a few familiar faces and watch the newly formed Empire begin to bend the galaxy to its will. The struggle between the remaining Jedi, outcast and outnumbered, and their Sith hunters set the backdrop for an interesting new character in Starkiller, the game's conflicted hero. The real draw was getting the chance to see the force run rampant. There were definitely bugs and glitches aplenty but launching Sith out of windows, smashing AT-AT’s with rocks, and electrocuting Jedi knights with force lightning more than made up for some hasty design.
The problem here is that the sequel doesn’t do much to add to the formula. In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II you play as a clone of the original Starkiller... or maybe not. In either case. you have all his abilities (gradually bestowed through flashbacks), memories, and enemies. The story concerns your avatar’s search for the truth and spans the galaxy. This, of course, assumes the galaxy is only three or four worlds deep. You play through three levels with a ton of backtracking and an intermediate cutscene adventure on Dagobah.
- Guys, just run! He's shooting blue lightning from his fingertips -
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II feels unoriginal and exploitive and, somehow, repetitive. Despite its abnormally short completion time, you will fight the same battles again and again on the same stages, with the same abilities. The Force Unleashed II manages to make blasting Storm Troopers with kinetic waves seem dull and lackluster.
*SPOILER ALERT BEGINS* On the one hand, I believe LucasArts deserves some credit. A sequel is definitely not an easy thing to develop, especially if you kill off the main character. *SPOILER ALERT ENDS*
The team at LucasArts have managed to learn a scant few lessons. Graphics received an impressive boost. Explosions, textures, and lighting effects must have gotten the bulk of the dev team’s attention. For some reason, for all the talk about the new ability to slice people up with the lightsaber, I only noticed this once during a cutscene with General Kota. My setup isn’t HD, but it may have been a glitch.
The presentation is endearing. Using a Mass Effect-style faux FPS camera, The Force Unleashed II takes several opportunities to force the gamer face to face with Starkiller’s journey. Of particular note are the freefall segments and the final battle. The former are truly awesome sights as you careen through debris at light-speed, using your force abilities to clear the path. As for the latter, without spoiling anything, I can say that the camera work, sound, and visuals manage to set the stage for an atmospheric encounter with Darth Vader (you were expecting someone else?).
The gameplay feels like that piece of the puzzle that doesn’t quite fit. Sweeping aside a half dozen enemies with a wave of the hand just doesn’t seem consistent with the story of a rebel on the run from the greatest Sith ever to dawn a breathing tube. If that’s not bad enough, only two or three hours in you will have faced nearly every enemy the game has to offer. Many of them require the same quick-time button combinations to defeat. If you beat an AT-AT with two presses of the X / square button, that’s how you’ll beat the next ten.
- Unleashing The Force is a great idea, but its execution is flawed -
With all the powers at your disposal, you rarely feel threatened. The only real additions to the formula seem to be the Force Fury mode (a temporary super-boost to your force powers), a pair of new grapples, and the ‘mind trick’, which turns enemies into allies for a time. With so few new tricks up your sleeve, you’d think things might get hairy! They won’t. Feel free to get cocky, kid. Even oversized enemies like AT-STs or those guys with the carbonite Super Soakers don’t offer much challenge without sufficient backup. Most of your deaths will occur because of mistimed jumps or errant dashes during platforming segments. To be fair, I’m not sure the gaming world has really discovered a way to deal with sequels for super-powered protagonists. I probably would’ve been just as disappointed to play a sequel where I had to earn all my old powers back.
Even with an interesting boss fight (and I do mean just the one) there’s not much to get your midichlorians in an uproar about in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. The real crime here is that this game teases you with interesting story threads, fan favorite characters, and locales that look suspiciously like places you’ve been before, but it never really pays you back for all that breathless investment. The game features roughly four speaking characters and even that’s a stretch. Consider the aforementioned Dagobah segment. You follow a foggy swamp path through the twisted trees until you encounter Yoda, who speaks a few backwards phrases, says something about destiny, then sends you into a cave and the end of the cut-scene. That’s it. He’s there for about 30 seconds. Even by cameo standards it’s unsatisfying. Let’s not even talk about Juno Eclipse. Encounters like these manage to tantalize but never really sate gamers, and the result feels like a 60 dollar charge to play what could have easily been DLC.
In the end, this tepid game takes few chances and succeeds on fewer levels. Featuring uninspired, recycled level design, an almost identical set of moves that seem to have become more powerful since your untimely demise, and a very short plot that provides more questions than answers, the force is most definitely not strong with this one.
GameDynamo's Score for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II (PS3)
|Leon Hendrix III
Images / Screenshots / Artwork
Our Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II photo gallery currently contains 13 images. Click on any of the thumbnails below to see some of them, or the button to view more.
More Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Images »
[View Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II images / screenshots +]
[Watch Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II videos / trailers +]
[View more Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II articles (news, previews, reviews) +]
[View Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II cheats / guides +]
MORE FROM GAMEDYNAMO