You know what really annoys me? Those episodes of TV shows where something huge happens, that’s sure to effect the entire show’s cannon, only to reveal that it’s all a dream at the end. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 feels an awful lot like one of these cheap TV moments. Spoiler alert – Starkiller, the protagonist from the original Force Unleashed game and Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, takes his own life for the better of the rebellion. Yet, there he is as we open up The Force Unleashed 2. Yeah, apparently, Darth Vader’s got clones.
Ultimately, The Force Unleashed 2 is a similarly disappointing experience altogether. Though it starts off with a bang, and features some amazing art direction, the tale of one of Starkiller’s clone’s quest seemingly hits a brick wall before it really starts to gain any momentum. Still, you can’t deny the fun you’ll mindlessly killing fleets of storm troopers and abusing your force powers. The Force Unleashed 2 may not be The Empire Strikes Back, but it’s no Phantom Menace either.
Taking place about seven months after the events of the first game, and a full year before what we ultimately know as the first Star Wars movie; a New Hope, The Force Unleashed 2 opens up with Starkiller ( or quite possibly a Starkiller clone) escaping from captivity on Kamino. You take out the Storm Troopers guarding your cell, and set off on a quest to find out the truth about your existence and who you really are. Of course, it won’t be that easy, as you’ll not only have to take on the entire Empire, but deal with the fact that Darth Vader has hired Boba Fett to track you down.
If Force Unleashed 2 succeeds at one thing, it’s the game’s ability to make you feel like a badass Jedi master. It’s insanely fun to wind-up a huge force push and let loose on an entire squad of Storm Troopers as if they were bowling pins. That’s really just the start though; you’ll be able to let loose an entire array of awesome Jedi powers, including Force Lightning and levitation. If you’re like me though, you’ll find the most fun out of using the awesome Jedi Mind Trick ability. Call me sadistic, but it’s just plain fun to watch an enemy Storm Trooper dive head first to his doom into an energy field. Of course, these powers are almost exactly the same as the ones from the original; they just feel a bit more powerful in the sequel.
These abilities still have their downfalls though, namely with the telekinesis ability. Much like in the first game, you’ll often be tasked with picking up an object or enemy with this ability, but will have a frustrating experience thanks to a shoddy targeting system. Yes, it seems easy to pick up that bin over there to tae out the control panel, but the game seems incapable of doing such pedestrian tasks.
As fun as these abilities are though, they don’t offer much in terms of gameplay, as the Force Unleashed 2’s core mechanics wear thin incredibly quickly. To boil the game down to its most basic description, you’ll find yourself laying waste to storm troopers, walkers, droids and the occasional boss fight. Repeat ad nauseum. I couldn’t help myself but be reminded of old games like Final Fight and Double Dragon as I fought off the hordes of nearly identical bad guys. It’s mostly disappointing because the original game featured everything from wookies to Jawas. Why not include them in the sequel?
Save for a few moments, The Force Unleashed 2 is a pretty linear experience, and you won’t have much variation from the path the game wants you to take. A few of the quicktime events and boss battles are a bit tricky, but nothing was incredibly taxing and there’s no upgrading abilities here, so the Starkiller you start with, is the same that you end with – luckily though many of the enemies feel exactly the same throughout the title, meaning you’re not going to have a ton of trouble clearing it.
One standout area for the game though is clearly in its production values. Save for Darth Vader ( I couldn’t help but think of the Chad Vader series of viral videos when he was on screen), the voice acting is top notch, and you’ll be treated to one gorgeous set piece after another. The best moments of these set pieces are found in the game’s quick time events, which often require you to use force push to dodge enemies and debris. These moments are easily the best of the game, and the will keep you on the edge of your seat, even if the rest of the game doesn’t.
Blast Factor: Star Wars the Force Unleashed 2 isn’t a better game than its predecessor, nor is it a worse one – it simply is. Star Wars fans looking for a true saga experience are encouraged to wait for The Old Republic next year, but if you’re just looking to feel like a badass Jedi Knight who kills nameless enemies and asks questions later – you can’t go wrong with this uninspired, but fun sequel.