Review: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II drops us back in control of Darth Vader's disobedient apprentice Starkiller as he searches for his love, the rebellion and himself.

This time around, developers LucasArts promise us a game that's more about controlling a super-powered Jedi and less about finicky controls and an environment that was at times a bit too interactive. We take control of a powerful Jedi under the weakening influence of Darth Vader. Starkiller this time around is a man who is told he is a clone but doesn't quite believe it. One sucker Force blow into the opening sequence and we're free of Vader, once more trying to overthrow the Empire.

Ideal Player

Gamers who love action, over-the-top powers and a chance to throw down with Darth Vader. There's not a lot of meat here, but there's also very little fat. So if you're up for a single-day, Star Wars-themed experience, this is a solid rental. Only the sort of Star Wars fans who like the second batch of Star Wars movies would like this game.

Why You Should Care

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was a broken game with a few pleasant surprises when it hit two years ago. It delivered spectacular Force-driven special effects, a chance to explore places only glimpsed in the movies and a neat tie-in to the fiction we grew up with. It also was loaded with glitches, a bad targeting system and some tear-inducing level design. With Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, LucasArts promises to fix all of that.

The ending of the original Force Unleashed wrapped things up nicely, how did they manage to create a sequel? Clones of course! And following in the footsteps of all Lucas movies, clones can only make things worse. The game opens with you being told you are the latest attempt at cloning Starkiller, but then you manage to catch Darth Vader off guard and break free of his space citadel. You spend the rest of the game mowing down hapless Stormtroopers, mechs and Sith-in-training as you try to "find" yourself and Juno, the love interest from the first game.

Does the story at least go somewhere interesting, like the first one did? There are two of endings. Neither are satisfying. One derails the Star Wars fiction, and the other essentially highlights how unnecessary the entire game's story is.

OK, so the story didn't make the game worth playing. What about the settings? The first game let me explore some amazing places from the movies. Yeah, that was pretty great. Unfortunately, none of those astounding, delightful moments are found in this sequel. Where The Force Unleashed had you playing through places like a still-in-construction Death Star, the Wookie-infested lands of Kashyyyk and Tie Fighter factories, The Force Unleashed II has just four locations: the drab world of Kamino, the floating city of Cato Neimoidia, Dagobah and spaceship The Salvation.

Dagobah! That's right, Yoda is in this game! Yes and no. Yoda is in the game for less than a full minute. He's less interactive than is his hut, which you can at least look into. The entire planet of Dagobah, unfortunately, doesn't fare any better. The level is a linear dumping spot for power-ups and a chance to show off one terrific but pointless cutscene. There are zero enemies to be fought, zero puzzles to be solved. The five-minute-20-second Dagobah level is a walk through a swampy park, literally.

This sounds like a trainwreck. There are things to recommend about the game. The decision to tweak the Force power targeting and cut down on how interactive the levels are does make for a much more enjoyable play through. (Though the game tends to hold your hand a bit too much) And those powers, those wickedly devastating powers, are still a joy to use. You can still combine your lightsabre attacks with lighting and Force Push and this time you wield twin blades. You can still grab Tie-Fighters out of mid-air and crush them into a ball. This time around you can also do things like electrify anything you grab, including enemies, and fling them into enemies like a bomb. The Jedi Mind Trick allows you to turn enemies into temporary allies or drive them insane so they run into the nearest deadly hazard. Power, especially Force Power, is always fun.

Is that all? The game is also spectacular to watch: The Force sending enemies skittering across floating cities, lighting chaining between Walkers and Sith, using your mind to bend open doors and grab rockets in mid-flight. Visually, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is a stunning game. But that's about the only way it's stunning.

The original Force Unleashed took quite a hit for not having multiplayer or a lot of replayability. How did Force Unleashed II do? Unfortunately this sequel manages to offer even less reason to play through the game. There is still no cooperative play at all and the difficulty settings do little to make the game more challenging once you've played through it once. Even on the highest Unleashed setting I found the game to be an uninteresting reminder of level flaws my second time through. The game's challenges, which at least allow you to compare scores with friends, are a boring mishmash of button-mashing, insipid level rehashes. At least the Wii version has multiplayer.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II In Action

Guybrush Threepwood is one of many unlockable costumes in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, so is Boba Fett.

You won't see this amazing scene in the game.

This video? It's also an ad, a scene you won't see in the game either.

Here's a look at the offline multiplayer mode found in the Wii version of the game.

The Bottom Line

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II does manage to fix many of the issues that plagued the first game, but it also introduces a slew of new problems. The story I found so captivating in The Force Unleashed is dragged back into life for the sequel, undermining much of that epic tale's original take. The level design, while not broken, is something far worse: Bland. Even the voice acting, which I loved in the original game, started to grate on my nerves halfway through the surprisingly short jaunt. Viewed as a Force-powered sandbox, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II gives you a chance to have fun decapitating Stormtroopers and tormenting Sith to suicide, but that's not worth a purchase.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II was developed and published by LucasArts for the PC, PS3 and Xbox 360 on October 26. Retails for $99.95. The Wii and DS versions were developed by another studio. A copy of the Xbox 360 version of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through the single player campaign and both endings on the Xbox 360. Played some of the challenges. Experimented with costumes and lightsabre crystals.


    I think the main reason I'm so disappointed is that the "Force Unleashed 2 Story" video I downloaded from xBox Live promised that they'd put a lot of effort into the story to create something intensely personal and more epic than the original.

    I see now that it was a marketing smokescreen designed to generate pre-sales, and I am a bit teed off that I almost got sucked in by it.

      This and the fact it leaves you almost no surprises to discover for yourself in-game is the reason why I almost never watch developer videos or even trailers.
      I find it's better all 'round if I go into things with no pre-conceived notions of what it will be like. There are much less disappointments this way. Also why I only skim-read most reviews.

    I thought that the game was great in all aspects except that it was too short. once Boba Fett flies off after you i think that you should at least be able to fight him on a new world or maybe vader escapes and you have to track him down...and also you never learn if you'r a clone or not, so what's the point of trying to find it all out....i bought the game at the midnight release and i've already beaten it, however, i find a hidden story if you play it different at the my oppinion i'd give it a 7/10 compared to the 7.5/10 for force unleashed one. so yeah star wars fans will like it and i know there will be a third that explains everything.

      I wouldn't hold your breath for a third one.

      And this is a shame. The first one had a mildly interesting story, and I was hoping this would be good as well, but no. The demo showed more of the same old stuff gameplay-wise (to be fair, it has been a while since I played the first one,so I couldn't really tell what had been improved). Which is a shame.

      Still, there will be no greater Star Wars game than Jedi Power Battles.

    Meh, I'll wait for their double-dipping "sith edition", like they screwed us over with the first game...

    "This time around you can also do things like electrify anything you grab, including enemies, and fling them into enemies like a bomb."

    Yeah you could do that in the last game, it never laid it out like it did for the other powers but it was still there. So the only new ability is the mind control thing. Bummer.

    This game was disappointing to say the lease. The force powers and saber fighting is good but that's doesn't seem to be a problem with the force unleashed franchise. The first game in my opinion had a great plot that was tied in well with the star wars trilogies. The way it ended left me with no expectations for the second one to tie into the gap between episodes 3 & 4, but alittle bit of fan fiction is ok with me. The clone consup was a good idea that was very poorly executed in unleashed 2. The biggest downfall in this game is the lack of plot, which unfortunately is the most important part to any real star wars fan. This game is rentworthy at best and I'm a star wars fanatic. Also the addition of a multiplayer vs mode would be a fans dream. I know I would love the chance to prove I can wield a saber and manipulate the force better then the guy holding the other controller.

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