22nd November 2010 - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 is the follow up to the original released in 2008. The first game was set in the Stars Wars universe between episodes III and IV. It told the story of Starkiller, Darth Vader's secret apprentice, and told an engaging story which integrated into the movies well. Although a few cool engines were used for destruction , interaction with the environment and enemy movement (Digital Molecular Matter and Euphoria), the game was very repetitive. The powers of the force were fantastic the first few times, but after killing hundreds of boring enemies with the same thing combined with a lack of imaginative level design, it ultimately fell short of the mark. I must confess I had not been that interested in the sequel until I witnessed the story trailer from E3, which frankly, blew me away. So I thought “Let's crank up the sequel and see if these game developers listened to feedback and have made unleashing the force the experience it deserves to be.”
The Force Unleashed 2 again focuses on Starkiller and his relationship with Vader, but this time he is a clone for reasons obvious to those who have played the first. The story is not as strong or as long as the first which is a real shame as it that was one of the biggest draw cards the first time through, and will no doubt annoy Star Wars fans. There are some brilliant cut scenes but they are all too few and the story just doesn't flow all that well. Bummer.
Straight-up the most obvious difference in gameplay is that Starkiller now has two light sabres and his force powers are virtually all there and already powerful at the start of the game. I was expecting with two sabres that combat might have progressed to a more strategic combination to put some great combos together. Instead it's your typical button bashing against dozens of foes. There are a few new touches like chopping off arms and heads, but they get lost in the sea of slashes. I really hope they incorporate the Move into a Star Wars game one day - now that's what I'm talking about! The funny thing is you could have one, two, or half a dozen light sabres and it really wouldn't make much difference. That's because your force powers are so over-powered and virtually unlimited that you can run through the levels just force pushing and electrocuting everything in sight almost without stopping. This is fun - for about ten minutes - and then you really just want more. It feels shallow being so powerful. I mean there is a reason people hunt large, dangerous animals and don't go around just squashing bugs all day! On top of this you can upgrade your powers even further, three levels a piece.
In an attempt to make you use a variety of moves, certain enemies are resistant to the force and so you must take them on with sabres. On the flip-side some will block all strikes and so must be taken out with the force. Real complex. There are a few larger units that take a little more of a hammering and require a bit of strategy to destroy, with a short timed button event to initiate a finishing sequence. To give credit these look great - slicing a walker in half or crushing it was always going to be. Once again though, after you have done exactly the same thing a few dozen times with absolutely no variation it becomes a little cheap.
Fortunately there are some larger boss battles that take a bit more effort and spice things up. They are a welcome change and I can't help but feel that if they had have applied this to the whole game it would be markedly better.
The final nail in the coffin for Unleashed 2 is the unimaginative level design. If you like going down a corridor fighting a bunch of guys, turning to the right, going down another (or is it the same) corridor fighting a bunch of guys, turning right etc. then this is the perfect game for you. The level designers have used the same half a dozen layouts so repetitively that it's almost embarrassing. There is the occasional transition or boss area that is different, but don't get used to it. Along with different difficulty levels and unlockables, there is also a challenge mode to slightly extend the experience.
The worlds are beautifully realised with loving attention to detail recreating the Star Wars universe. It's only let down by the repetitive nature of the level design seeing the same environment again and again. The characters and enemies have a good level of detail in-game and look amazing in the cut scenes. There were no obvious glitches or slow down when I was playing and so the graphics were a plus for the title.
Even though Darth Vader's voice doesn't sound quite right, that eerie mechanical breathing is spot on and the rest of the voice acting is top notch in the context of the Star Wars world. Another positive for this game is the sounds of light sabres and force powers. The sizzling wave and strike of a sabre as it cuts through flesh and metal alike sounds awesome and very authentic. The force push of a giant metal door open or the sounds of everything in a room disintegrating or being smashed to pieces with a repel explosion is music to any would-be Jedi's ears.
Considering the game only offers a handful of hours for a play through, (I would be surprised if anyone other than trophy junky or hard core Star Wars fan would play through more than once) charging over $100 RRP seems a bit stiff. I find it hard to justify this price especially considering you will likely see a lot of copies available second hand due to the short number of gaming hours. I would personally suggest to hire it out first before you decide to plonk your money down and buy it.
The Force Unleashed 2 has so much potential. The Star Wars fan base is there. The physics engines are there. The ability to fight with so many cool abilities is there. Unfortunately none of them have been capitalised on. The fighting although cool at first becomes mundane, unchallenging and repetitive after a short period. The level design is even more mundane and repetitive, and the story, which was a highlight in the first game is just not that strong. Its a shame that there was a chance to take was good in the first game and build on it and its been totally missed. Play this if your a fan but don't go in expecting too much. The force is definitely not with this one.
AAG SCORE: 6/10
+ Beautifully created world and characters
+ Sound effects authentic
+ Powers fun for a short period
- Combat becomes repetitive and too easy
- Level design repetitive and boring
- Story much weaker than the first game
Reviewed and Written By Khye Davey