“There’s no actual gameplay on Dagobah, you literally say hi to yoda, pee in his cave, and leave.”

In reviewing this game, I will probably reference the first one quite a bit. Considering that the first game wasn’t all that great, I suppose that means I just wasted six hours of my life. Wouldn’t be the first time.

Story

The story of the first game was about Vader’s apprentice, and how his sacrific ultimately paved the way for the formation of the Rebel Alliance. Conversely, if you chose the dark ending, the apprentice became a cooler version of Darth Vader after he killed him, spread terror across the galaxy, and took Luke Skywalker as his apprentice. They didn’t finish this AU storyline because apparently everyone thought a sequel was necessary.

Speaking honestly, the game’s story would have been fantastic if: a) the game wasn’t bound by all this canon and cameo shite, and b) the story had based itself off of the dark ending. Seriously, I’d love to play a game all about the dark apprentice spreading death and devastation across the galaxy fighting more Jedi holdouts. Instead, they felt the need to pull an idiotic scenario out of their ass where the clone of Starkiller rebels against Vader.

By the way, in case the previous paragraph didn’t tip you off, I’m going to spoil the story so that people reading this don’t have the excuse of wanting to find out the story in order to play this game.*AHEM*

The game starts out with you, the Starkiller clone, breaking out of the facility that created you, stealing Vader’s Tie Fighter, and going on a little joyride around the galaxy. By galaxy I mean he goes to a planet, commits mass genocide in order to save a blind jedi general from the first game (Rebel Alliance IS a terrorist organization after all), goes to Dagobah to poke around in a cave for a minute (There’s no actual gameplay on Dagobah, you literally say hi to yoda, pee in his cave, and leave), follow the jedi to his ship, go back to the planet you started at, and crash the ship into the cloning facility.

"Don't pee in my cave dipshit"

Following the crash landing that breaks physics and all suspension of disbelief, Starkiller kills some dudes, fights Vader, kills more clones of himself while fighting Vader, watches Vader throw his girlfriend who reminds me of Samus off a ledge, then comes to his “big moral dilemma” at the end of the game.

Everyone wants to kill Vader

If you decide to kill Vader, it turns out that he perfected the cloning process while you were away and made a good, proper evil apprentice that has no qualms about stealth-killing you and breaking the blind Jedi’s neck. Vader tells him to go break shit, so he steals your ship and peaces out. A shame, since I thought he’d just stab a weakened Vader and become the Emperor’s apprentice… again. Kinda. Oh well. At least it doesn’t conflict with canon so long as the apprentice disappears somewhere.

Meanwhile, should you decide to take the moral highground despite how it turned out in the last game, you take Vader prisoner (what), confine him on your ship, make out with your apparently-not-dead-girlfriend, and peace out with Boba Fett following you like a rabid yaoi fangirl.Just like a bad Twilight fanfic. 😀

Damn crossovers...

Oh yeah, one little pet peeve. Your ship looks differently than it did in the first game for some reason. Whereas before it was like some kind of prototype Tie Interceptor stealth ship, now it looks like a a Big Daddy from Bioshock mated with a Tie Interceptor to produce a giant flying turd with sharp edges and wings. Yeah. Strangely, that is probably one of my biggest problems with this game. Inconsistency. See an example to the left.

All things considered, there is no excuse for this shoddy writing in Star Wars, unless I missed something and this is the status quo for the franchise currently. I’m sure there are some harcore fans out there who are actively vomiting up their organs because of this game. Remember kids, if it gets produced, it’s CANON. Seriously, is it too much to ask that George Lucas write his own material?!

Help your community by clearing the gene pool

On the other hand, if there were one thing I actually liked about this game, it would be that one of the codex entries describes why the stormtroopers are so incompetent. Degenerated gene pool for clone candidates coupled with the biggest tools throughout the galaxy being enlisted. Yeah, so don’t feel bad about slicing them apart. You’re only preventing them from breeding. It’s a public service, really. Some fans may have already known that but for me it was very informative.

Gameplay

The combat in this game is similar identical to the first game with some minor tweaks thrown in to justify the making of a sequel. The new mechanics don’t justify the game’s existence, and honestly aren’t even necessary in the first place. Various mechanics such as the Force Grip and movement have been polished in order to become fully functional, but others continue to be awkward, such as targeting and platforming. Even the camera is just as good or bad as you remember it.

Manipulating people... in a suitably not-so-subtle manner

Since it’s the second game, they felt the need to add in another lightsaber for you to use. While it’s interesting to see what combination of colors looks the coolest, this addition doesn’t change the gameplay formula at all. The combos are basically the same in terms of function, and in fact there are less possible combos than the first game. The mind trick, which either causes enemies to commit suicide or attack their allies, doesn’t really help combat all that much since all the dangerous enemies that you want on your side are droids and therefore immune to it. The “Unleashed” transformation, a definite rip-off from God of War, actually suffers from the same fate as the first God of War’s “Rage of the Gods” transformation did, which is that you simply don’t have it most of the time and end up hoarding it for the major boss fight that never comes. It ups your attack power by ten times and gives a general AOE effect for all your attacks, but it’s over too fast. I literally only used it three times, including the tutorial. There is also the addition of three freefall scenarios, but those weren’t particularly noteworthy, though I could tell they took it right out of God of War 3. Like a lot of other things.

The three game engines, which were a major feature in the first game, are still just as impressive as always, and haven’t changed at all. I honestly can’t complain, though, since Stormtroopers still grab on to each other frantically when you levitate them and things all over the levels still react to gravity.

Level design is like the first game, only more repetitive. Run here, jump on that, fight these things, perhaps a physics puzzle here and there, and four boss battles. It’s an endless cycle that wears on one’s patience. The game is short, but it feels too long. This is not helped by the fact that for all the different level titles, there are only three levels and one Dagobah cameo. Kamino opening, casino planet, Dagobah for 2 minutes, starship interior, and Kamino again.

Enemy types consist of Stormtroopers,Sniper Storm Scout Troopers, stick-wielding Stormtroopers, spooky teleporting Stormtroopers, Mages Force Adepts, Cheap force-resistant knockoff Starkiller clones, Star Wars Walkers, Freezy/Flamy riot droids, and angry crab-like droids that produce small kamikaze children. The bosses consist of Darth Vader, Borog (the giant Rancor-eating monster from the announcement trailer), a spooky giant walker lightning-crab droid, and a giant gunship with missiles trying to make you miss your train.

The definition of generic, obligatory and unrealistic all in one

Truly, the enemy variety in this game does force you to mix up your tactics between force powers and saber combos, but by the time they’ve all been introduced it’s little more than an annoyance to fight any of them besides hordes of common storm troopers. Stormtroopers continue to be a treat because it’s fun to manipulate them. Every other enemy type is resistant to at least one of your powers if not your lightsaber. I don’t know if this amount of variety is enough or not, but by the end of the game I simply wanted to see the ending and proceed to cut off my memories of this entire scenario.

It’s not a bad hack n’ slash system ultimately, and the force grip is still fun, but there are a lot of better games out there right now. This one’s gameplay feels like an older PS2 title without the endearing story qualities to justify it’s existence on current consoles.

Graphics

As a studio, Lucasarts and it’s flunkies who developed this game have the money to make the game look beautiful. Levels have good reflections (lightsabers reflect off of most floors), and the weather effects are realistic. When you do actually change locales, the visual style is unique. It’s too bad there are only four visual styles presented in the game.

Characters look amazing in CG cutscenes. I have a strong suspicion that Lucas Arts spent most of their money rendering these things. Characters still look amazing in-game, but not to the degree of cutscenes. Thinking about it, the characters look too good. The amount of detail on the characters is honestly completely unnecessary. I don’t need to see Starkiller’s pores and individual hair folicles thank you very much.

Force effects are identical to the first game. Lightning and force impacts have not changed to any real degree, only the way the environment reflects it. Lightsabers look better and actually cut off storm trooper limbs sometimes, but not to any realistic degree.

The enemy design seems to take a page from General Grievous of Episode III fame

One last aspect of the game that is incredibly inferior to the first game is the costumes. The first Force Unleashed had something around fifty costumes. While most of those were character models of famous Star Wars movie and game characters from outside the story (with Vader noticeably absent), there were also a plethora of unique costumes for Starkiller. Some were level-based, and others were concept ideas, such as the force ghost, cybernetic reconstruction, and rebel general costume. While these costumes still exist in the second game, they are all noticeably similar to one another in the case of starkiller costumes and the only foreign character models you can use are enemies from the game. The DLC bonus costumes were evidently much more badass, but I’m not enough of a tool to pre-order something when I know how bad the quality is likely to be. Having a save file from the first game unlocks the default costume of the first game as well as the good and bad ending costumes. Ironically, these are the best ones.

The dark side's always been better

Toaster Unleashed

All in all, the game is pretty. Yay for that. Unfortunately I like actual content and fun in my games, not a pretty screensaver. This game’s graphics are pointless like making a stunningly perfect virtual reality system that depicts a broken toaster for all five senses.

Sound

Music at LucasArts is serious business

The music is awesome. Obviously. It’s LucasArts. They have their own orchestra. What did you expect?

Oh look an actor

The voice-acting is also fantastic. Again, it’s LucasArts. They know how to hire good actors. Vader is Vader and Stormtroopers are hilarious when they scream. Yay.

Sound effects such as lightsaber sounds and blaster bolts are just as you remember them. Come to think of it, all this stuff is from other Star Wars projects in all probability. The quality is always good in that regard. The key aspect regarding sound design in this and any other Star Wars project is probably nostalgia.

 

BLARGH

Force Unleashed 2 was probably rushed. I don’t know if they were trying to release the game before the new Call of Duty or what, but with a studio backed by the monster that is LucasArts, there is no excuse for such an amateurish product.

I say rent it if you’re really (and I mean really) into Star Wars. Otherwise, go play the new 3D Castlevania, Enslaved, or perhaps the original Force Unleashed if you really want to play a Star Wars game. Hell, go play God of War 3 if you want a taste of what the creators were going for. Even Dante’s Inferno could probably tide you over.

Like this only not as cool

I actually know how they can save this series, not that they’ll do this. Story-wise they could go with the “pillage and destroy EVERYTHING” concept of the evil ending or simply make the storyline of the third game a playthrough of both movie trilogies. However, story doesn’t even matter because at it’s core, Force Unleashed is a series created to rip-off God of War and make more money due to the Star Wars tag attached to it. I say they should go all the way and have Sony Santa Monica make the next Force Unleashed. Barring that, go talk to Team Ninja.

stuff like this? not if california has their way...

Unfortunately, they will most definitely not do this. I don’t know if it is due to George Lucas being so insistent that everything related to Star Wars must adhere to specific rules of canon or if it’s some other part of his company forcing the developers to get stuff out faster, but there needs to be a major change at LucasArts, because products like this reflect poorly on them as a whole.

 

I played the PS3 version

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 was made and developed by LucasArts.

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