Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
Developer: Lucas Arts , Aspyr Media (PC), Red Fly Studio (Wii)
Publisher: Lucas Arts
Platforms: Playstation 3, XBOX 360, Wii, and PC.
Genre: Sci-Fi/ Action-Adventure
Release Date: October 26, 2010
The Force Unleashed II picks up where its predecessor left off. Starkiller, the story’s main protagonist, awakens to find himself on the planet, Kamino, within the cloning facility as seen in Attack of the Clones. Starkiller learns that he is the clone of the original Starkiller, according to what Darth Vader says. He is haunted by visions of his love interest, Juno Eclipse, who Vader believes are “the visions of a dead man”, and that “the cloning process is still imperfect”, giving reason to believe why Starkiller experiences these visions. Previous clones have failed to remain sane and have died because of that, yet this Starkiller is as close to perfect as he can get. Still believing that Vader is his master, Starkiller complies with his orders. However, when Vader continues to place pressure on him, suddenly, Starkiller has a vision of the original Starkiller being stabbed in the back by Vader’s lightsaber. Sensing that Vader may be more harmful that originally thought, Starkiller quickly overpowers Vader with a burst of force lightening, rendering him stunned. Starkiller then escapes the cloning facility. Starkiller is consumed with learning more about his past, the truth, and to find Juno Eclipse, who may hold the key to his true identity. However, Starkiller must avoid the ever watchful forces of the Galactic Empire, as well as Darth Vader’s gaze to accomplish this task.
The Force Unleashed II is totally a graphic power house, even in comparison to the first game in the series. It’s amazing the level of detail that was placed into the game, especially through the in-game cut scenes. If you’re using an HDTV, you’ll be surprised to see how realistic the characters look, well Starkiller at least, Darth Vader’s presence is as satisfyingly haunting as ever. You can even see the five o’clock shadow on Starkiller’s face! You know the little hairs that begin to stick out of the pores of the skin. Now if that isn’t attention to detail, then I don’t know what is.
The free fall from a Kamino skyscraper is a great segment to get things started.
The game’s settings look great too, and capture the settings seen in the films quite nicely. This includes the planet Kamino, with its constant black and rainy sky, and crashing waves of the ocean down below. Other familiar settings include the chrome colored and technological laden space ships, as well as futuristic cities. The game does justice to the Star Wars visual style.
Being a Star Wars game, of course The Force Unleashed II is going to contain the iconic Star Wars sound effects library. These sounds are the familiar lightsaber hum and clash sound effects, blaster fire, cannon fire, explosions, and ships flying over head and through outer space. The voice work is also a notable, the majority of the voice cast who worked on the first game has returned for the sequel. The voice talent is spot on and captures the mood of Star Wars nicely, with appropriate dialogue such as “may the Force be with you”, and “what is thy bidding my master?”
It also comes as no surprise that John Williams’, who provided the score for each of the Star Wars films, music is heard in the game. It would be foolish not to include it after all, pretty much inexcusable too. The popular opening fanfare is enough to make any Star Wars fan smile with glee, as the opening titles scroll up the screen in true Star Wars fashion. Various action sequences also utilize the upbeat and suspenseful orchestrations of Williams’ score. The Force Unleashed II has a few original orchestrations as well, but fans are more than likely going to recognize Williams’ work instead.
Aside from Storm Troopers, Starkiller faces off with formidable droids.
The Force Unleashed II worked on gameplay issues that popped up during the first game, and Lucas Arts were determined to iron out these issues. Just as its predecessor, The Force Unleashed II has Starkiller navigating the environment and completing objectives. It’s basically a point A to point B deal just as the first game. Along his travels, Starkiller will come into contact with numerous enemies, including: storm troopers, mercenaries, Force powered enemies, and bounty hunters.
Starkiller now has the ability to wield two lightsabers at once, for more devastating and awesome looking combos. For players who argued that lightsabers should dismember enemies, well Lucas Arts listened. You can now really remove the limbs and the heads from your opponents body when you slash away with your lightsabers, a cool addition though it is grim, but it doesn’t go too overboard either.
Starkiller, of course, has the ability to use the Force against his enemies. Force powers that make a comeback to the sequel include: Force push, Force lightening, Force repulse, and the lightsaber throw attack. New Force powers that are introduced in the sequel are “mind trick”, which allows you to manipulate your enemies into killing themselves, or turn them against their own allies and fight for you. The mind trick ability wears off after time though, so you’ll have to dispatch that enemy when you can. Another Force power is “Force fury.” By pressing down on both analog sticks simultaneously, Starkiller becomes a force to be reckoned with…. Pun. This Force power grants temporary invincibility as well as increased lightsaber damage. The way the move looks is equally awesome: Starkiller doesn’t hold his lightsabers in his hands; he actually uses the Force to make them levitate and swirl around him in a fast fury. It’s a cool visual display.
At the end of each mission is a big boss battle, something that Lucas Arts was aiming for in the development of the sequel. No kidding either, wait until you get towards the middle of the game. It features once of the biggest action sequences that I’ve ever seen in a Star Wars game, and I mean that literally.
How you customize your lightsaber crystals influences the flow of battle.
For all the action the game does a good job at providing, you can’t say the same for the game’s length. The Force Unleashed II can be completed within a ten hour time period, maybe even shorter depending on how fast you progress. This is a shame because a Star Wars game deserves to be as expansive as can be; including the time it takes to play through the game.
Speaking of expansiveness, there are few environments to explore in this game just as in the first game. Sure the films also did the same thing by having only a few environments on screen in particular movies, but sometimes seeing the similar looking backgrounds can be repetitive and dull at times.
Another disappointment is the cameo appearances by the franchise’s biggest stars: Yoda and Boba Fett. When they were seen in the game’s trailers before its release date, initially you would believe that the beloved characters would play a bigger role in the game. Really, when Starkiller lands on the planet, Dagobah and meets Yoda, you would think that Starkiller would hang around to be trained by the powerful Jedi Master, but no. Yoda’s appearance is as brief as Starkiller placing an order on something in a drive-thru and pulls up to find that Yoda is the cashier. That leaves each person about twenty seconds, tops, for a conversation with each other, right? Yeah, that’s how long the characters interact with each other in the game. For fans of the series, it was a letdown to see that.
It was disappointing that the time with Jedi Master Yoda was so brief.
That isn’t to say that the game has no replay value. Located throughout each stage are holocrons. Finding the holocrons awards you with Force points, lightsaber crystals, and outfits. Force points, or experience points, can be spent on Force powers and lightsaber combos. Force points are also acquired by defeating enemies. The more points you acquire the more powerful your Force powers will become as well as add more variety to you lightsaber attacks. Lightsaber crystals also power up the strength of Starkiller’s loadout, as well as change the color of your lightsaber. Such crystals enable you to have more damage dealt with lightsabers, earn more Force points with each kill you make with your lightsabers, earn more health with each kill you make, and so on. With the ability to wield two lightsabers at once, that means you can also apply two lightsaber crystals to each saber, which allows for some interesting combinations, though you’ll have to find their secret locations. Some hide in plain sight and some are cleverly hidden. Go search for them! Finally, there are the outfits, which basically act as alternative wardrobes. There are some nice looking threads included in the game, so if you want Starkiller to sport a different look, then figure out where to find these holocrons.
All things considered though, The Force Unleashed II was a great game and this is coming from a Star Wars fan. There were elements of the game that only made it halfway, such as the game’s short length and use of characters, but the game did make some improvements over the last game, such as in the gameplay and especially through the graphics. Hopefully the issues that can be refined are the ones that this review mentioned. The game hints at a third episode in the series and I hope that Lucas Arts take the gaming community’s comments into account if they begin development on a third game any time soon. The Force Unleashed II would be a welcome addition to your gaming library, and I would suggest picking it up if you can look past some the issues aforementioned. The Force is still strong with this one.