|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: LucasArts||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: LucasArts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: October 26, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
The Force Unleashed was a rare title when it was released in 2008. Instead of going the usual route and giving fans a mediocre story with a predictable cliffhanger ending, the game told a solid story that had a beginning, middle, and end. Though the ending is somewhat tragic (spoiler alert: Starkiller kicks the Jedi bucket in the "official" ending), it fit with the Star Wars canon overall and made for an entertaining one-shot in set before the original trilogy.
However, when the title sold extremely well (to the tune of seven million units), it seems LucasArts got the sequel itch. While The Force Unleased II definitely improves upon The Force Unleashed's gameplay, the sequel's ham-fisted plot really hampers the game's overall effectiveness, and those who were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the first game will be disturbed by some of the wrong turns made in the sequel.
I won't spoil the game's entire plot for you, but the first five minutes really tell you all you need to know about how the rest of the story is going to go. Darth Vader struts in to frame and looks upon a shacked Starkiller clone, who is given some congratulations, since he made it past fourteen days without going crazy. Once unshackled, our clone protagonist wants to see the girl of his dreams (no, really). When Darth Vader summons a Juno-bot for cloned Starkiller to kill (to conquer his mushy-gushy feelings), he refuses. At this point, his clone senses (no, really) tell him that Vader is about to kill him and try again with another clone. Fortunately, this clone is smart and jumps out the window and goes into a super-force freefall, crushing structures and tie fighters along the way. And it is here where our adventure beings.
If this sounds awesome to you, then you'll really appreciate the plot developments from here. If this sounds a little cheesy to you, I'm sorry. It does get worse. Though there are some interesting moments (as well as some interesting cameos), the story is weak overall. Normally I wouldn't complain so terribly about a weak story (a paper-thin plot in a video game isn't always a criminal offense), but it is particularly disappointing in this case because the original's storyline was so good. I really liked Starkiller's character, and it was one of the last remaining things in the Star Wars universe that didn't feel done to death. But now with infinite clones and all sorts of shoehorned plot points injected in (along with the requisite cliffhanger at the ending), The Force Unleashed II starts feeling like every other sequel-ready franchise, which is a shame.
But enough about the story. Let's talk about what The Force Unleased II gets right: gameplay. Even if you don't care at all for Star Wars, you couldn't deny that the combat system in The Force Unleashed was a ridiculous amount of fun. Force-pushing, electrocuting, and tossing enemies around each stage proved to make for awesome gameplay mechanics, and I'm happy to say the formula holds up well here. There have been some improvements to the combat system, including new upgrade paths and better force meter management. You'll also be privy to some new powers, the most notable of which is a Jedi mind trick that makes enemies either commit suicide or turn on each other. Though not practical in every instance, this power certainly makes for some humorous moments when used. Another change to the battle system comes in the form of revamped lightsaber dueling. For some reason, Darth Vader thought it would be a good idea to give cloned Starkiller two lightsabers (no reason is ever given for this...maybe he just had a spare?), but this actually works out rather well for the player, as lightsaber combat is much quicker and more fluid with the dual wielding. Blocking and counterattacking is also a lot easier with the more powerful lightsabers, which is definitely handy when you are facing a level filled with AT-STs firing rockets constantly at you.