Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

Regardless of how you left things after the first Force Unleashed, Darth Vader is very much alive, and Starkiller is heavily the opposite. To Vader, with cloning technology improving to the point where it might even be possible to clone a jedi, the loss of his apprentice is a mere inconvenience, and replacements are swiftly grown. Playing as Starkiller, or possibly a clone of the pesky Sith turncoat, some bad memories of a tiff with daddy prompt you to mount an escape from the facilities on Kamino, primarily so that you can go away and then come back again to fight the person you're escaping from. Ah, youth.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2

With flimsy justification out of the way, the game embarks on a short campaign featuring some fairly epic levels and a whole host of troops, walkers (not the crisps) and badass creatures to bash with your lightsabers. Yes, the dual lightsabers return, and there're lots of crystal colour choices to collect, many with beneficial effects like a corrosive burn, which makes sense. Once again Starkiller holds his sabers backwards like a confused drug addict gripping fluorescent tubing while waving at the imaginary jawa two steps in front. Mysteriously, this looks cool, and you'll find yourself happily slicing and dicing hordes of innocent troopers whose lifeless black-eyed masks stare back devoid of emotion as you move on to annihilate their comrades. It's a hoot up until you meet an enemy that's mysteriously immune to your every lightsaber blow, or one that manages to absorb any Force attack your uber jedi can produce. Fortunately, every enemy has a weakness. Those immune to Force usage can often be thwacked with a good lightsaber blow, while those with mad saber skills can be zapped with handy electricity. It's a shame that the way you tackle enemies is so constrained within each enemy type, and also fortunate that nobody thought to combine all the most impressive enemy skills into one invulnerable foe.

At the beginning of this part of the Unleashed journey, being a rebellious teen, striking out at poor parenting, you pinch your dad's ship and make your way to your former jedi master, in the hope of finding lost love Juno Eclipse. In your absence, one of the wisest of the jedi, Master Kota, has taken a doce of stupid, been taken prisoner and forced to fight in a massive arena. On the plus side, this gives you the chance to organize and execute a rescue, which involves taking out one of the biggest bosses in gaming, a foe to rival anything from God of War, in terms of scale if not interactivity. Still, it's changes like this that turn a game from being an escalator into a genuine roller coaster, with careful pace alterations like a trip to galactic psychiatrist Yoda. As with all sons of Vader (clone or biological), Yoda is left to pick up the pieces, with the usual treatment involving cave exploration and a fight to the death with non-PTA member Darth Vader. It's a solid strategy, and a great way of ending a film or game.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2

Being close to indestructible is great any everything, but what you really need is some destructible enemies to dispose of, demonstrating your superiority. Thankfully, the game provides many, with waves of stormtroopers and other assorted alien badstuffs to wipe out. This takes place across a number of different levels that are shinier than Vader's helmet. Fairly regularly, you're treated to views of sprawling cities or massive space battles, demonstrating the huge potential a Star Wars game has, although sadly reminding you of the confined nature of the game. That said, sitting on these rails still guides you past some spectacular sights, and Star Wars fans will undoubtedly be happy to see several familiar locations and other recognizeable icons. Production values are very high on the whole, with voicework also at a high standard. The cast might not feature James Earl Jones, but still manages to pull off many of the key roles required for a convincing performance.

Completing the campaign is only part of the fun for Starkiller though. There are also challenges to complete, which appear to be designed to handily point out each of the game's flaws. Playing the campaign, any inconcsistencies or issues with movement and combat tend to go unnoticed amidst the spectacular display of sizzles, flashes, explosions and cutscenes. As soon as these items are extracted into specific challenges though, you begin to find flaws. One challenge sees Starkiller attempting to perform his entire combo selection within a time limit. Oh how you'll laugh as you enter the buttons perfectly in time only to be greeted with a confused jedi sat in the arena, wondering why the combo button arrangement is still planted in the middle of your screen. Another challenge lets you leap majestically from platform to platform, which serves to highlight the platforming crapness of the game's jump mechanism. Completing each challenge is a lesson in gameplay management as opposed to personal skill. How much can you learn to accommodate the game's weaknesses, the game asks.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2

With challenges beaten and campaign complete, the game will have soaked up a good 10-15 hours, and they'll have been enjoyable, for the most part. Starkiller's actions once again allow a few different endings to unfold, and there is some replay value, particularly if you wish to meet each trophy objective. There are better games around, that much is certain, but with Star Wars games generally having a bad reputation, it's nice to see one that at least does most things right. For a true Star Wars experience, freedom akin to that offered by The Knights of the Old Republic would be nice, but The Force Unleashed II does still manage to provide a nice, enjoyable Star Wars game, that'll keep fans occupied while George Lucas prepares to massacre his iconic trilogy with a few more tweaks for the upcoming blu-ray releases. Noooooooooooooooooooo.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

LucasArts

Developer:

LucasArts

Players:

1

Online:

None

Release:

2010-10-26

Trophies:

59

Review summary

Gameplay:

Exciting powers but clunky combat

Graphics:

Sharper than the first, with nice environments

Sound:

Classic music and decent voicework

Lastability:

A shortish campaign, but with replay value

7.8

Volcanic

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