Monday, 8 November 2010

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II review

The Force Unleashed II is the follow up to 2008s new story in the Star Wars universe. Set between the two trilogies, the story focuses on Darth Vader's apprentice, Starkiller. Having not played the first in the series, I would have liked some sort of summing up at the beginning, but this doesn't happen. The first of a few disappointments.

The story follows Starkiller on his journey to find the woman he loves, Juno. The twist is, he isn't really Starkiller, but a clone. One of many Jedi clones to do Darth Vader's bidding. To aid your mission, you travel to a floating city to save a blind Jedi warrior, Rahm Kota, who is a slave being forced to fight in an arena. Starkiller then faces the tough decision: fight for the rebellion or save Juno?

The gameplay is exciting - for half an hour. Once you have used all of the force moves a few times, it's easy to get bored. Trying new combos with your saber and force powers is fun for a while but again, they are exhausted pretty soon. The mechanics of the game are the same in each level. Do a bit of running and jumping, kill the pathetically weak Stormtroopers, solve an insultingly easy puzzle and then fight some tougher enemies. It's too repetitive and on top of that, extremely short. The game can be completed in less than five hours, and ends with an awfully constructed final battle, which is far less exciting than it should be. You would expect more of Lucas Arts, it's not like they're short on cash or talent. They simply haven't tried that hard, and it is basically a cash cow they are milking too much.

There are some visually impressive set pieces, but they require no skill. Defeating harder bosses and enemies usually require pressing certain buttons at the right time. Quick time events are
majorly overused in TFU 2. It does however feel satisfying after bashing the B button repeatedly to push obstacles out of the way of your crashing ship, using the force. But that's about it. Visually impressive is good for a film, but in games you would expect more interaction and involvement.

The unlockables and upgrades add a bit of depth to the game and are the only reason to even think about playing the game again. The most exciting aspect of the game is the ability to unlock Guybrush Threepwood as a playable character. It doesn't bode well for the Star Wars universe that Guybrush is the best reason for buying the game. Upgrading the force powers does improve the game though, as your powers affect more enemies at the same time, making the mundane activity of disposing Stormtroopers look pretty awesome.

A number of challenges separate to the story mode add more length to the game, with medals and leaderboards bringing a competitive side to the game that it would not otherwise have. The lack of multiplayer is disappointing, although if the rest of the game is anything to go by, it would have been underdeveloped and a wasted opportunity.

It seems that Lucas Arts have not listened to the fan response from the first game and instead pushed out another with no solid story, not enough length to justify the retail price and only three real levels. The authentic sound effects are awesome, and the graphics are beautiful, particularly on Vader. Small roles for Yoda and Boba Fett are dissatisfying though, and the game is far more disappointing than impressive. Fans of the first game are likely to enjoy it, but not really anyone else. It's time for Lucas Arts to leave The Force Unleashed alone.

5/10

by Louis Gardner

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