Let me begin this review by asking a question: Why did LucasArts decide to release a sequel to The Force Unleashed? It can’t have anything to do with the fact the first game got poor to mixed reviews by most critics. The developers probably weren’t interested in continuing the story either, because all the main plot points were wrapped up at the end of the original and the main character, Starkiller, sacrificed himself to save the day.
No, The Force Unleashed 2 was most likely made because the first game ended up becoming the fastest selling Star Wars title, and the fastest selling LucasArts title, of all time. Who cares that the ending of the original didn’t really lend itself to a sequel? This is science fiction after all, and anyone can be brought back to life with a little bit of creative thinking, but is Starkiller’s resurrection worth your hard earned money? Hit the jump to find out.
The Force Unleashed 2 begins with the unveiling that Darth Vader has been creating clones of Starkiller to help destroy the newly formed Rebel Alliance. Unfortunately, Vader’s evil scheme has not gone as planned and many of the clones have gone crazy as they’ve remembered their sorted and confused past. You are one of these clones who decides to break free from the cloning facility on Kamino in order to save your life and the lives of your friends. Thanks to this wave of the proverbial magic wand, or magic lightsaber in this case, Starkiller is reborn and a new exciting adventure can begin … or so you think.
One of the biggest problems with this game, and where things begin to go horribly wrong, is with the storyline. The original Force Unleashed was applauded for its brilliant storytelling, and actually won a Writers Guild of America award for Best Video Game Writing. In contrast to that, the sequel feels like it was penned by a 5th grader for a weekend writing assignment. The characters have no life or warmth to them, the dialogue is whiny and contrived, and the story itself wouldn’t pass for a late night made-for-tv science fiction movie.
Don’t even get me started on the ending, of which there are actually two. One is completely preposterous and sets events in motion for an inevitable sequel, while the other is a waste of time that makes the entire game seem pointless. With such a horrible story, you would guess that LucasArts fixed the gameplay problems from the first game, but you would be wrong.
The most wide spread complaint about the original title was that while your character leveled up and became more powerful as the game progressed, the enemies also became increasingly difficult. This resulted in you never really felling like this total bad-ass jedi the game claimed you were. The developers decided to compensate for this in the sequel by making you a little too powerful.
From the very beginning to the very end, it is clear you are an absurdly powerful jedi with a ton of weapons at your disposal. You can use force lightening to fry your enemies, break their bones by pushing them against a wall with force push, trick them into killing each other with jedi mind tricks, or cut them in half with your dual lightsabers. While this does make for fun and varied gameplay, you are in-fact so powerful that the game never actually challenges you at all. Even when it throws 30 enemies at you at once, you can slay them all without breaking a sweat. The result is gameplay that’s completely unbalanced, again, but this time in favor of the player.
Another major problem with The Force Unleashed 2 is the level design. The first game took place at a multitude of unique and original locations all over the universe; from the Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk, to the junk yard wastelands of Raxis Prime and the beautiful jungles of Felucia. You even got to visit Cloud City and fight inside an early pre-constructed version of the Death Star.
In stark contrast, the sequel is spread across nine levels that take place in four boring locations. One of those locations is Dagobah, a level which lasts only two minutes. You might think I’m joking, but I’m not. You simply land, walk around, and then a cinematic plays. It’s a complete waste of an opportunity to design what could have been an incredible level.
Then there are the starship levels, which are repetitive and completely uninspired. To be honest, there is really only one level, the Gorog Battle Arena, which is in any way memorable. With so many unexplored corners of the Star Wars universe yet to be discovered, you would think it would’ve been easy for the developers to come up with some unique locations. This is a real shame considering all the great levels from the first game.
I could probably spend all day talking about the problems with this game, such as how the developers still didn’t manage to fix the horrible targeting system from the first game, or how there are only two actual boss battles to speak of. While there are some good features to talk about, like the incredible visuals and sound effects, they are so over shadowed by the bad that they seem pointless to mention.
After my five hour playthrough, I walked away from The Force Unleashed 2 feeling completely empty inside. There is simply nothing of value to be taken away from this game. It truly feels like an expansion pack with little content and no creativity to speak of, that was created simply to capitalize on a fiscally successful first installment. This game shouldn’t be played by any person who considers themselves a true Star Wars fan, especially since the ending will simply infuriate them to no end. Since everyone else will get even less enjoyment out of it, it doesn’t really deserve to be played by anyone.
The level design is absolutely atrocious, but at least the visuals are pretty to look at.
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Using a nearly unlimited supply of force powers to slay your enemies is fun for a while, but a lack of any real challenge causes the experience to get dull fast.
There is one thing Star Wars games always get right and that’s the sound and music. This one is no different. There’s nothing like some dramatic John Williams music to get you into a storm trooper killing mood.
The story campaign is over before you know it (under five hours) and you’ll have no desire to play through it again. The challenges might cause you to stick around a few more hours, if you’re desperate.
The Force Unleashed 2 should honestly have never been made. There is very little content and even less creativity to speak of, the gameplay problems from the first game have not been properly solved, and the story is a blemish on the Star Wars franchise.