The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
In The Force Unleashed, Darth Vader’s crusade to rid the galaxy of
the Jedi was interrupted by a young boy named Galen Marek. After
slaying Galen’s father, Vader secretly brought on the child as his
apprentice. Despite being trained in the dark arts from a young age and
carrying Vader’s torch against the Jedi, Galen, under the guise of
Starkiller, still clung to the good inside of him. His softer side
eventually caused him to fall in love with Juno Eclipse, free himself
of his oppressive master, and form a rebellion against the Empire. In
the end, Starkiller sacrificed his life to save his friends and give
the galaxy a fighting chance against the Empire.
Unleashed II picks up where this tale left off, but it doesn’t focus on
the rise of the Rebel Alliance or Vader’s unrelenting quest to hunt
them down. In a twist that comes dangerously close to breaking Star
Wars’ lore, Starkiller returns as a clone, or so Vader tells him.
Haunted by visions of Starkiller’s past and the love he has for Juno,
this supposed doppelganger’s mission is to find answers as to why he
exists, all while battling or embracing ghosts from a soul that may not
The story starts out with a shaky concept and never finds
solid ground. Cameo appearances by Yoda and Boba Fett end up going
nowhere. Yoda’s role is relegated to that of an animatronic Disney
character in front of a ride, and Boba Fett talks a big game, but never
once confronts Starkiller. Boba Fett? Boba Fett? Where? If you can put
yourself in the mindset of the prequel movies, where you’re willing to
tolerate a groan-inducing narrative for the tradeoff of Jedi doing
badass things you never thought were possible, The Force Unleashed II
delivers in a big way.
He may be a clone, but Starkiller’s handle
over the Force has grown significantly. When a situation calls for
improvisation, Starkiller shows a flair for the dramatic. Whether this
means beheading a squadron of stormtroopers or guiding a large space
cruiser inside of a cloning facility, his actions almost always inspire
awe and are usually tied to fun gameplay sequences. He can also turn
enemies on their own ranks through mind control – an act that always
rewards the player with a hilariously visualized betrayal or suicide.
When a battle calls for a little extra firepower, Starkiller turns his
Force powers up to 11. With rage fueling his actions, he can bring down
a mining droid, an adversary that can normally withstand a dozen
lightning blasts and a handful of saber slashes, in one powerful strike.
still has that distinct Force Unleashed feel, but refinements to the
mechanics, such as the ability to easily pick up and throw items, make
it a more fluid experience. Whether you are Force throwing a
stormtrooper or crushing a TIE Fighter, the physics convey a true sense
of weight and appropriate visualization. I didn’t have any issues with
the lightsaber combat in the first game, but many fans felt it was too
shallow. LucasArts addresses this minor irritation with Starkiller’s
acrobatic dual wielding abilities. If you don’t want to rely solely on
the Force, you can let the lightsabers do most of the talking. The
enemy lock-on is the only tool that still doesn’t quite work, as it is
solely based on Starkiller’s position.
The texture work and
animation, for both Starkiller and his opposition, rank among this
generation’s best. LucasArts also went well out of its way to avoid
camera clipping. Every shot is framed beautifully, delivering a
cinematic view that mimics the motion pictures. The camera work also
brings you closer to the action than any Star Wars experience before it.
of the environments are set on Kamino or the space around it, which
didn’t entrance me like the varied levels in the first game. The only
iconic locations are a gameplay-free pit stop at a familiar setting
from the original trilogy and a trip to an intergalactic casino that
was surprisingly disinteresting. My favorite stage-based moments were
the free fall sequences where Starkiller plummets dangerously toward
Most levels conclude with a repetitive by-the-numbers
boss fight. The last boss fight is particularly nauseating; it lasts
far too long, is too easy, and concludes with one of the most
uneventful send-offs I’ve seen. LucasArts hardly offers a compelling
conclusion to this story. Most of the key plot points are open to
interpretation, and the logic applied to many of the narrative twists
make Vader look like a schizophrenic madman who sabotages his own plans
moments after making them.
In a similar vein to the Starkiller
clone’s role, The Force Unleashed II is a shadow of its former self.
The graceful gameplay offers a higher level of excitement, but the plot
and characterization – two large components from which I expect great
things from any Star Wars journey – makes this experience one of 2010’s
Email the author Andrew Reiner, or follow on Twitter, Facebook, and Game Informer.
The original Force Unleashed let players harness the power of the
Force like never before, and that concept is still at the core of this
sequel. In fact, so much of the first game is intact in Force Unleashed
II that it hardly feels like you’re playing a new game. Combat feels
tighter, but most of the so-called improvements don’t change anything,
from the dual lightsabers (which are just cosmetic) to the Mind Trick
power (the only new addition to your Force repertoire). Even though the
gameplay hasn’t evolved much, I won’t complain about having an excuse
to obliterate hundreds of Imperials; I had a blast impaling,
electrocuting, and throwing my opposition. The Force powers alone are
reason enough for Star Wars fans to give this game a chance – just be
warned that the plot holding the action together is awful. If you
thought the narrative in the last game was threadbare and inconsistent,
you haven’t seen anything yet. The Force Unleashed II has some moments
of pure Force-fueled bliss, but the disappointments and missed
opportunities outnumber them by far.