Perhaps it was the fact the game’s plot did away with Gunguns and midichlorians and focused on showing Vader as the merciless badass established back in the old days, or perhaps that despite its limited combat system, there was an enjoyable hack-and-slasher tucked away in there somewhere.
Either way the potential was there, so when they announced a sequel last year I found myself quite excited.
“This is it, this is the chance for Lucasarts to iron out the creases of the first game and deliver a solid and respectable Star Wars action game” I thought to myself.
Ultimately, The Force Unleashed 2 does not deliver on that hope – that’s not to say the game is bad, far from it, it’s just that it could be so much better. Unfortunately it’s is marred by many of the problems that plagued the first game.
The Force Unleashed 2 picks up roughly 7 months after the original timeline. With Starkiller missing and presumed dead, Vader has cloned the Jedi warrior – for reasons why, I don’t know. Conflicted and confused, Starkiller escapes from Vader’s clutches and heads out in search of the life he once had.
Now, the story in the game isn’t that hard to follow, but it does go with the assumption that you have played the first. A lot of the predecessor’s characters make a return and are central to the proceedings.
A few of original characters also pop up, including Yoda and everyone’s favourite bounty hunter, Boba Fett. Sadly, their roles are reduced to mere cameos and they are ultimately underused, begging the question of why they were even used in the first place.
As far as the gameplay goes, things have not really changed that much. It’s still very much a case of “go here, take out these guys, go there, take out those AT-STs” and so on and so forth. Much like the first game, it gets a bit repetitive, but this repetition is exasperated this time round, as the game only takes place in 4 different environments.
As a result the game feels somewhat smaller and less epic than Starkiller’s first adventure, and by the time you have performed the same attack in a quick-time event several times in the same environment, you’ll want to gnaw off the ends of your analogue sticks in despair.
Speaking of the quick-time events, they seem to be everywhere – I can safely say that during the course of the game, I encountered at least 20 of them.
Now, I’m all for a bit of FMV gaming (1989’s Dragon’s Lair being a particular childhood favourite), but I don’t enjoy watching the same animation repeatedly, again and again.
This problem rears its ugly head on the grappling mechanic. The first time you see Starkiller take out a Sith droid with some elaborate attack, it’s quite impressive. But once you’ve progressed a little further in the game it becomes and bit tiresome. This is probably because the game encourages you to take out certain foes with this technic and as a result,you see it again and again and again.
If there is one good thing to say about the quick-time events, they have certainly been improved since last time round – there seems to be a lot more margin for error.
One neat addition is the introduction of Force sense – simply pressing up on the D-pad will reveal a hidden path as to where you should be heading.
Unlike the first game, most of your force powers are available to you and aside from two of them you can start force pushing, electrifying and dashing your way around the levels in no time.
The powers that you do pick up are mind trick – where you can convince your enemies to fight each other, and force repulsion – quite a handy little power that sees Starkiller cower a little, before letting off a repulsion field that sends all the enemies and objects around him flying.
Now, despite my misgivings about the game, it can’t be denied that playing as Starkiller can be great fun at times. Taking out a legion of stormtroopers with twin lightsabers is infinitely fun, and the developers have done a great job in capturing that satisfaction.
Also, as you progress through the game, you can unlock several challenge modes and upgrades to both your lightsabers and your force powers, giving the gamer a bit more of a reward for their efforts.
Graphically, the game is very vibrant with a nice contrast of colours. The environments are rendered beautifully and, as with the last game, Lucasarts have ticked all the right boxes in recapturing that Star Wars feel.
This is also helped by the rather excellent sound design and not to mention the use of some of the classic music from John Williams’ score, along with some new pieces.
At the time of release some of the animation is a little buggy – without giving too much away, towards the end of the game, during the final battle, your opponent keeps appearing and disappearing during some of the cutscenes. As of yet this wasn’t patched, but one can hope.
Having said that, the game does feature some truly wonderful segments that can be a little breathtaking – easily one of the best of these is the moment Starkiller crashes down towards Tipoca City on Kamino.
Overall, The Force Unleashed 2 is a bit of a let down. While its graphical ambition is to be commended, the repetitive gameplay and the lacklustre plot make this installment one for the hardcore Star Wars fans only.
Verdict: 6 out of 10
Core combat is fun
Repetitive, very repetitive
Not much plot
Little variety of environments