Lucasarts took the bull by the horns back in 2008 when it released The Force Unleashed, a Star Wars title that many critics said had a better story than Episodes 1-3 and a dynamic fighting system that let you combine powerful Force attacks with acrobatic lightsaber maneuvers. While fans gushed over the brilliant canon that The Force Unleashed brought into the Star Wars Universe, The Force Unleashed 2 is a padded mess, complete with boring levels, uneven difficulty and a story that makes absolutely no sense.
What’s It About?
The Force Unleashed II begins almost immediately where the first game finished, with Darth Vader looking to crush the Rebel Alliance after Starkiller failed in his attempts to stop them. But even though Starkiller died at the end of the first game, you still play as him (or his clone, rather) throughout the entirety of The Force Unleashed II as you try to figure out who Starkiller really is and just what the Alliance and Vader are hoping to achieve.
Why Should I Care?
The game follows Starkiller as he fights out of the cloning facility on Kamino after going crazy when he learns of his true identity. The idea that Starkiller is a clone is a core facet that shapes the entire story. How will Starkiller react to this revelation? What is Vader holding back? Why are Stormtroopers so bad at shooting? The problem with the story in The Force Unleashed II is that none of these answers are ever explained. You spend your time traveling to various locales, talking to Rebel leaders and Jedi, but the ultimate conclusion is a huge letdown. For all of the buildup surrounding the main core idea of the story it really is a slap in the face to struggle through the game’s entirety without so much as a solid ending.
To make matters worse the levels for which you will be visiting are so boring and uninspired you will sometimes lose focus of your mission. Kamino is such an important aspect of the story that you will happen upon this cloning facility twice, with the final visit traveling through most of the same rooms and corridors as the first time you left. Another area, such as a floating casino in the sky, is incredibly boring on a design standpoint, with fights occurring mostly inside cramped corridors and outside on the decks. To top it off, cameos from popular characters, such as Boba Fett, who is sent after Starkiller by Vader, is never seen again after his first appearance until after the credits roll. Many of the facets that make a Star Wars adventure memorable, locations and characters, are all but forgotten in The Force Unleashed II.
The combat is relatively unchanged and it is still tons of fun to unleash devastating powers upon helpless enemies, but the difficulty spikes at various points in the game making some segments often infuriating. At the start, you are given the basic powers: lightning, saber throw and the new mind trick, which forces enemies to fight alongside you or simply leap off a balcony to their death. Upgrading these abilities is as simple as hitting back or select and activating a node, a far cry from the convoluted mess that was the menu system from the first game. You can also change your appearance and lightsaber qualities from this same menu and the ability to do so without waiting for the game to load is a nice upgrade as well.
But as stated before, the game suffers from an uneven difficulty throughout the campaign. If the game starts to get too easy for you, the game will throw enemies immune to Force powers at you. After a while you will start getting enemies who are immune to both lightsaber and Force attacks at the same time, making fighting these enemies often frustrating specifically because you can never hit them. For a powerful Jedi that sure seems like a major design flaw. Add in weird cyborg creatures that can somehow teleport and become invincible and spider droids, who are annoying, small creatures that can pounce on you and the combat often gets repetitive and annoying very fast. There is a nice mix of boss battles thrown in, including a showdown with the massive Gogog, but even these battles are way too easy and uninspiring. Even the final showdown at the end of the game lasts way too long and halfway through of doing the same thing over and over again you will probably wonder why you are struggling through to the end in the first place.
Why Is It Worth My Time And Money?
At only four to five hours, The Force Unleashed II is hardly worth recommending to anyone. Even diehard Star Wars fans will find it hard to spend $60 on a game that is worse than its predecessor in nearly every aspect, including the one that matters the most, the story. Perhaps the short length is the developer’s way of telling you “we really didn’t care at all about this game so here are a bunch of Force powers to use and a story that makes no sense.”
It really is a shame to see The Force Unleashed II receive this type of treatment, especially from Lucasarts who deems their Star Wars franchise as one of the most coveted and respected properties in the world. There really is nothing here to brag about and players looking for a solid addition to the Force Unleashed franchise might have to wait until the next title, assuming Lucasarts doesn’t screw that one up too.