Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
October 26, 2010 (NA)
October 29, 2011 (EU)
In 2008, LucasArts provided us with The Force Unleashed, a game which, despite its flaws, provided a fun diversion and showed a lot of potential in a follow-up game. It had a better story than anything George Lucas had come up with in years, fun lightsaber combat, and a wide array of force powers to unleash havoc upon your enemies. Tighten up the controls and the lock-on system, balance the force powers more, and you’d have the groundwork for a great sequel. So when The Force Unleashed II was revealed earlier this year, I was really excited for a more polished experience that addressed all of those concerns.
Unfortunately, LucasArts took all those things and threw them out the window, choosing instead to make a half-assed cash-in. The story is absolutely tepid, none of the lock-on and control issues have been fixed from the first game (and sometimes the lock-on is even worse), and the force powers have been balanced…too far in the other direction.
You play once again as Starkiller; or, rather, his clone. That should raise some red flags about the story right there, but it gets even worse. While The Force Unleashed provided you with an epic story, with plenty of lively characters spanning many planets across the galaxy, TFU2’s story is absolutely uninspired garbage. There are none of the various Jedi characters from the first game, you explore a total of three different worlds, and the plot is riddled with clichés and plot holes.
But by far the most offensive aspect of the story is its length. By the time the story starts picking up right around the 5 hour mark, the credits roll. The entirety of the game consists of: leave planet A, go to planet B to rescue person, five-minute stop on Dagobah just so Yoda could make it on the box, return to planet A for the final battle and the worst final boss I think I’ve ever had the displeasure of fighting. There are a few challenges that you can complete, but there’s no multiplayer or anything to hold your interest. Expecting retail price for a game that you’ll be done with in five hours is outright robbery, and it feels like a slap in the face.
The gameplay still suffers from the same issues that plagued the first. It’s so hard to lock on to a specific enemy that you’ll come to dread fights with multiple types of enemies. If you want to take out a more powerful enemy in a large group, you’ll usually wind up targeting the small minions. One boss fight toward the end of the game in particular is terrible about this, spawning dozens of small enemies that are little more than annoyances because you’ll usually wind up targeting them or having them latch onto you while you’re trying to fight off the dangerous boss.
Speaking of the boss fights, they have so much potential…and fall flat on their faces. The first major boss fight of the game spans across an entire level, going from an arena to the walls of that arena, and finally resulting in a freefall. This fight has so much potential, but the jumping and dodging controls are extremely finicky, and the boss simply repeats the same attacks over and over while you nick away at its health bar waiting to really damage it. It winds up dragging on far too long and ruining what should have been an epic set piece battle.
That’s not to say the game doesn’t have its fun points. Plowing through wave upon wave of stormtroopers with your lightsaber is always enjoyable, and finding creative ways of using your force powers to dispatch enemies is rewarding. Force-resistant enemies like the purge troopers from the first game have mostly been eliminated, which is a blessing and a curse. They were incredibly annoying to defeat, but at the same time now you can pretty much plow through everything with your force powers – especially lightning.
The production values in the game are top-notch. TFU2 features some really sleek graphics that are a marked improvement on the first game’s. The faces no longer look deformed, and the entire engine is much more polished and refined than that of the first game. Add in the physics, and you have some really impressive graphical power. The world of Cato Neimoidia is an artistic showpiece, but the rest of the game unfortunately lacks the environmental variety of the first game, with a color palette of mostly grays.
The soundtrack mostly features familiar Star Wars music from the movies. It’s as epic as ever, but the voice acting is sadly mediocre. One character from the first game, in particular, has one of the most grating voices of any character in any recent game, and the fact that he spews out the same thing over and over during certain sequences is enough to make you want to mute the game. He was an annoying character in TFU, but in this game he’s borderline unbearable.
The Force Unleashed II makes me angry. It’s not a bad game, per se, it just reeks of wasted potential. When I first heard about the game, I was excited for a refined experience that built upon the first game. Instead, it improves upon nothing from the first game, has a worse story, and a downright insulting length. If you’re a Star Wars geek like me, you’ll probably get it anyway, but it’s definitely not worth paying full retail price for a five hour game. LucasArts totally dropped the ball on TFU2, and even though the ending leaves things wide open for a sequel, it had better be a lot better than this for it to even be worthwhile. The game is a technical showpiece, and it has some truly fun combat with the dual sabers, but overall it pales in comparison to the original game.
Fun lightsaber combat, for the most part.
Impressive graphics engine.
Lots of Force powers.
Some atrocious voice work.
No lasting value.
Horrible boss fights.