Developers: LucasArts (PS3, Xbox 360), Aspyr Media (PC), Red Fly Studio (Wii)
After playing the demo, watching bits of gameplay footage, and seeing a whole host of ridiculous trailers, I charged into The Force Unleashed 2 thinking that I was going to be rewarded with a satisfying, well rounded title, which would definitely be an improvement on the original. How wrong I was! The opening cutscene is filled with promise as Darth Vader lands on Kamino and triumphantly strides through a battalion of submissive imperial troops to meet Starkiller, and the first level really pulls you back into the story. Sadly, from this point on things start to go downhill.
In theory the plot behind this instalment of the series is incredibly intriguing and should have eclipsed the original's, but in practice all it really does is builds your expectations up and never gives you anything back. The campaign is surprisingly short, you'll only need a couple of hours to complete it, and as a result the story feels a little bit rushed, which is annoying because you don't really feel like you've been given your money's worth and you're left wanting more but not in a good way. I was excited at the prospect of Yoda and Boba Fett dropping into the fray this time around, but you only get a few brief glimpses of them in a couple of cutscenes and it feels like the developers have just included them to parade around in the trailer to lure us in and to remind us that these games do in fact take place in the Star Wars universe. Finally the whole 'is Starkiller a clone this time around or isn't he?' plot thread is ruined by the ending; it would have been far more interesting if Vader had just been playing one big mind game with Starkiller to tempt him back to the dark side and there were no clones in sight, rather than forcing you to take on a load of incomplete Starkiller replicas! Also, if Vader had been trying to create a cloned army of dark Jedi, surely The Emperor would have something to say about it, especially considering he isn't exactly being subtle about the whole operation!
The gameplay is a massive disappointment and it's incredibly repetitive, all you're doing is taking on wave after wave of various classes of imperial troops and the only thing that allows you to really tell the levels apart is the change of scenery. In terms of your powers you start off at a similar level to how you ended the first game, and whilst ranking up does help you, you'd probably be able to work your way through the game without it. Anyone who's been following this game should know that the developers have been saying how there are fewer enemies this time around, but the enemies that are present are more of a challenge; this is one of the biggest lies I've ever heard, seeing as only a few moments into the second level I received an achievement for dispatching 300 bad guys, yes that's right 3 0 0!
That leads me onto the end level bosses; in the first game they were pretty challenging and felt like worthy opponents who could actually cause your early demise. This time around though they're just a mild irritation and cause you to waste time jumping around when all you really want to do is sit back and enjoy the story unfolding around you in the cutscenes. Even Darth Vader doesn't really strike you with much dread, which just shouldn't be the case, even though Starkiller is remarkably gifted when it comes to his command of the force.
Lets talk about force powers for a few minutes. Thankfully, lightning shield has been turfed out of the game and hopefully'll never make its way into a Star Wars title ever again! Replacing it is Jedi mind trick, which is an incredibly useful tool in some sections of the game, whether you're using it to cause a difficult enemy to kill themselves or levelling the odds on the battlefield by turning some of your enemies against their comrades. If you get stuck and need to find out where you're supposed to be going you can always turn to force sense, but you'll probably never have to use it seeing as the levels are about as linear as they come, which makes it one of the most redundant gameplay features I've seen. Force Fury rockets Starkiller's powers from 0-60 in seconds and allows you to decimate a small army of stormtroopers in mere moments without receiving so much as a scratch. Apart from that everything's the same as the original powers wise.
Jedi holocrons used to be quite fun to collect, but now all you need to do is look in the most obvious places and oh surprise, surprise there's the holocron you're looking for! Once you start grabbing them you'll occasionally be rewarded with lightsaber crystals, and this time around you can assign crystals with different bonuses to one or both of your lightsabers, but they only really provide you with minor advantages.
Luckily, not everything is a huge downer in this title, the graphics, cutscenes, and in-game animations provide you with a very impressive visual experience. The animations that kick in when you activate grapples on enemies, initially give hostile encounters a bit more of a cinematic feel, but like everything else in this title they don't have enough variety and become boring quite quickly. The challenges section of the game definitely deserve to bear their title because they're fairly tricky to score highly in, and if anything they'll hold your interest longer than anything else.
So, is it worth paying full price for? Absolutely not, I'd honestly wait until it hits the £10 mark or less before you consider picking it up, even if you're an uber Star Wars fan, although having said that it'll probably still disappoint you. I for one will be trading it in at the first opportunity because I can't see myself ever playing it again, although the light side ending does make me wonder what's coming up next, but I could always wait to watch the cutscenes on Youtube to catch up on the story.
- Looks great
- Sounds good
- No lightning shield!
- Far too repetitive
- The story doesn't live up to the hype
- Way too expensive for what it is
The short version: Sadly Force Unleashed 2 doesn't live up to any of the hype that's been used to promote it, and you'll be left feeling disappointed and cheated out of your cash!