Uneventful Storytelling Drains This Entry Of Its Magic - Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II - PlayStation 3 - www.GameInformer.com
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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

Uneventful Storytelling Drains This Entry Of Its Magic

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.

The Force 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 be his.

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.

Combat 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.

Many 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 the ground.

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 biggest disappointments.

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Second Opinion:

7.50

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.

User Reviews:

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  • This review is being done from the perspective of a ten dollar price point for the PC version (not that I've detected any differences on PC besides a distinct lack of letting us use the on-disc DLC they gave to console gamers for one dollar). The combat finally feels like it has an identity, rather...
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  • 6.75
    This sequel to the surprise success, The Force Unleashed, is a let down. The story is too short, & while slashing at enemies is fun it can get boring fast. Plus the animation for the lightsabers looks wack. The story is odd, I feel like the makers couldn't come up with a good story. Expected...
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  • 7.50
    When Star Wars The Force Unleashed came out a few years back, it took using the force to a whole new level. Throwing TIE Fighters around like the pests they are, and ripping a Star Destroyer out of the sky undoubtedly proved what the force was capable of. Playing the sequel, it's apparent that Lucas...
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  • 7.00
    *WARNING SPOILERS BELOW* (References made to the ending of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed ) The original Star Wars: The Force Unleashed made a lot of promises… and while it lived up to some of the hype, other seemingly cheap and sloppy design decisions ultimately ruined the experience. Being granted...
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  • 8.25
    I had tons of fun with this game. Every single fight is always exciting and using the force in such power never gets old. The boss battles are fun, the game looks spectacular, and the voice acting is also amazing. The story is pretty good, but nothing amazing. The only drawback is the length of this...
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  • Seriously. This was a fun game but even with the extra content was really short. Played through it all twice in just a weekend. Just rent this, have fun, think about the story a bit as it had a nice twist at the end with the extra content, go back to whatever you were playing before. This game is a well...
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