|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: LucasArts||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: LucasArts||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: October 26, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by J. Matthew Zoss
The original Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was not a perfect game. Few people would claim otherwise. But it was definitely a solid game its flaws were more about lack of variety than glaring technical issues. Fans quibbles about changes to the Star Wars canon and somewhat repetitive gameplay aside, The Force Unleashed was one of the biggest Star Wars games in a long, long time, selling over seven million copies to date. That kind of success insures a sequel. After checking out the demo of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II at E3 last month, were convinced that the team at LucasArts is serious about fixing the flaws of the original game and delivering an even bigger, better game the second time around.
The E3 demo kicked off with an impressive CG trailer that sets up the story for the second game and answers a question fans probably have about the sequel. Protagonist The Secret Apprentice died at the end of the first game, so how can he be back? Well, at the start of the game he awakens on the cloning planet of Kamino, so that gives you a clue. Whether hes the original Apprentice or not, Vader is displeased with his actions at the end of the original game and orders him killed. Of course, the Apprentice gets loose and starts doing what hell be doing over the course of the entire game: kicking Imperial butt.
After escaping the clutches of Vaders goons, the Apprentice sets out to find the truth, adopting the name Starkiller. Star Wars trivia experts will recognize the significance of that name it was the original last name of Luke Skywalker in the early drafts of the first movie.
As the trailer ended, the live demo of the game began, starting with a section in which Starkiller falls hundreds of feet from the top of a building, dodging enemies and obstacles along the way. It's easily a section that many games would do as a cutscene, but in TFUII it's actual gameplay. The LucasArts employee controlling the demo blasted obstacles out of the way with force powers, dodged enemies with a split second to spare, and made it down to the bottom in one piece. Think the falling through the city scene in Attack of the Clones, and you'll get the picture.
After landing, the more familiar gameplay kicked in. Now armed with two lightsabers, Starkiller slashed his way through hordes of stormtroopers, mixing up his attacks with returning force powers that allowed him to chuck troopers to their death, electrocute them with Force lightning, and more. A new power, Mind Trick, has been added to the mix, and it's definitely one of the more amusing abilities in the game. Use it on a group, and they'll turn on each other. Use it on an individual, and he'll run to the nearest ledge and throw himself off. That's right, you can cause suicides in this game.
The demo included some brief platforming elements to break up the action, as well as some new enemies and some old ones that you can dispatch in new ways. There was a giant new Terror Trooper with a huge shield that can be ripped away from him with The Force and launched back at him. Two AT-STs unloaded their guns on Starkiller, who tossed them in the air and crushed them into metal balls something players desperately wanted to do in the original game. Jetpack troopers would lose control when struck with Force Lightning and go spiraling to their deaths with a trail of smoke. And, of course, plenty of standard Stormtroopers found themselves slashed to pieces beneath Starkillers twin Lightsabers.
The sequel is a huge visual improvement over the original game, with impressive textures and lighting that made it one of the most graphically impressive games of the show. In the falling section, you can see the wind ripping at Starkillers clothes and water from Kaminos wet environment shining on the various materials. The glow of his dual Lightsabers reflects off the shiny objects in the environment, and individual pieces of Stormtroopers armor fly off when you toss them around with The Force. Its definitely a visually-striking game, but more importantly, it looked fun - better balanced and more refined than the first game. If you're a Star Wars fan, that's probably all you need to hear.
J. Matthew Zoss
CCC Freelance Writer