Unleashed and ready for another showdown with Lord Vader, LucasArts has certainly brought another Star Wars adventure to life with their latest offering of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II. Back at the helm of the this new adventure we find Lord Vader’s apprentice, Starkiller ready for action – or is it?
Based on the games diabolical plot headed by Lord Vader to crush the rebel forces we find our hero imprisoned by the Dark Lord who is administering a full-on cloning facility in the middle of the galaxy.
As this journey takes form our hero is having a hard time controlling his memories, memories which are explained to him as a necessary risk in order for his training to be complete. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II completely throws you into the action as our hero see his inevitable end at the hands of Lord Vader if he doesn’t act fast.
So, for starters LucasArts has you leap head first off the side of a skyscraper with glowing light-sabers in hand, evading lighting blasts, blowing holes through object coming up at you swiftly, you can even throw your light-sabers spinning into oncoming tie-fighters. I did mention that you were still falling head first, right? At the end of this roller coaster ride swan dive comes this bold statement as our hero come crashing through the glass sealed roofing of a room filled with stormtroopers. Glass and stormtroopers go flying all over the place as you destructively land on one knee like the arriving of the terminator. And so the game begins and does not stop.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is all about letting the player display the powers of the force in all it’s destructive glory. Unlike the original game, the learning curve this time around is pick up and play and have fun while learning. Using the force to toss objects including enemies around levels while similar to the original game is much more satisfying this time around. Mixed with a multitude of stylish combos, no longer is it a chore to execute precision timed combos and melee attacks which certainly makes it harder to put the controller down as you face each confrontation.
Throughout the journey our hero occasionally has memories of his past depicting images from the first game which reacquaints him with his true Jedi abilities, allowing him the ability to manipulate the environment and enemies in many different ways.
New to the series is the amazing looking cinematic grab maneuver which keeps the action fresh. These cinematic takedowns are not your typical quick-time-event kills which are also spread throughout the game. But rather a stylish way of allowing the player at anytime to add more of an attractive flare to the already robust list of combos in your arsenal. Throughout our play through there were only two grab maneuvers to choose from despite a third brutal grab take-down which, when you’re in what we like to call rage mode, yet it would have been great to have more of a variety of these take-downs as they were definitely a highlight.
Of course no take-down is as to the point as a simple head slice from a laser sharp light-saber. LucasArts now let’s you cut down the enemy in true Star Wars fashion. However, don’t be alarmed with the dismembering of limbs as there is no blood in sight due to the type of cut we’re talking about. Laser sharp!
And speaking of rage mode, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II does a great job borrowing game play mechanics from other successful titles while implementing them in original style. As you play through the game there’s a large meter in the bottom left of the screen displaying a gauge which fills up with force power. Once filled you are able to go into a rage where after turning purple you literally become unstoppable even in the face of certain death. Here’s a hint; once you turn it on keep it on. Unfortunately if you turn it off seeking to preserve it for what lies ahead you will have to wait until it’s full again before using, so when it’s on leave it on.
In addition to the great looking cinematic takedowns, LucasArts has throw in the much needed Jedi mind trick which I must admit was not used as much earlier on but was much needed during my finale with Lord Vader and his army of clones. The infamous Jedi mind trick where you give any enemy an idea and he literally does whatever you say was great especially during my second play through. Manipulating stormtroopers to walk through laser belts, jump off cliffs and take out their own buddies was certainly a nice touch further expanding your arsenal of attacks.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II has also taken a serious spike in the visual department over the original game. Colors are more vibrant and textures are much smoother. The games architectural set pieces are now on a much more grand scale. Like most Star Wars locations with towering buildings atop the clouds, glancing over ledges and cliffs just might be nerve-wrecking for some writers afraid of heights and this game is full of these dramatics over the top level designs. Adding to the details, players will also notice the impressive ripple effect which gets implanted into the ground caused by the force push.
Unlike the convoluted power up interfaces from the original game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II keeps the level up options fairly simple. As players gain more green orbs from enemies and acquire the colorful cube spheres throughout the game these items become points allowing you the option to purchase different force powers. There are 7 force powers to choose from and each of them can be powered up 3 times until full. Force powers are attributed to; Saber, Push, Lightning, Grip, Mind Trick, Saber Throw and Repulse. As the action heats up and battles become more challenging, leveling up your force powers becomes a necessity.
Even more impressive than the games engaging combat system and visual eye candy, throughout your play through you will be engulfed by the games impeccable soundtrack as it crystallizes the experience with memorable tones and scores that we have grown to love and expect from any Star Wars experience. Dramatic and emotional, the soundtrack brings each swing of your light saber to life. The game just sounds awesome.
From EASY to UNLEASHED, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II offers 4 difficulty settings while taking players through 9 challenging levels that will put their Jedi skills to the test. The replay value here is solid as players who complete the campaign are also able to further test their skills in the Challenges options where ten challenges await. Unlocking all 20 costumes and all 14 different light-sabers which can be used interchangeably not to mention all the extras waiting to be explored from the databank revealing all the games character and bios, all 20 cinematic cut-scenes, along with a plethora of conceptual art work from LucasArts, Star Wars fans and even new players to the series should have plenty to look forward to.
Star Wars Force Unleashed II while not as long of an experience as I would have liked, does deliver on offering a much improved package from it predecessor, yet not so much in the story department. If there is one thorn in this skilled Jedi’s side it would have to be the lack of significant character development along with an intriguing story that poorly drops off at the end. Ultimately, at it’s core is a sophisticated hack and slash action title in the middle of a well imagined Star Wars universe that is definitely fun the play.