Sunday, October 31, 2010

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Review

When the first Force Unleashed game came out, I really enjoyed it. Despite its mixed reviews, it had a solid story that not only fit neatly into the continuity of the movies, but also provided some back story for the origins of the Rebellion. The characters were well-acted, and the main ones were even memorable. The game play had its flaws, sure, but it was undeniably fun to use your Force powers to toss enemies around (I always took a perverse delight in using Force Grip to lift an enemy up off a ledge, move him out into open space, and then just let go).

Perhaps The Force Unleashed's biggest flaw was that, to keep everything nice and tidy, protagonist Starkiller was dies during the canon ending. The game made money, and the developers decided a sequel was in order... but how do you do a sequel when you've killed off the hero? Maybe plays as Darth Vader (the intro level where you play as Vader was pretty awesome)? Or maybe Vader gets a new secret apprentice? Or why even focus on Vader's apprentice... maybe the Emperor was looking for someone to replace Vader the way Vader replaced Dooku. Maybe they could make a game about fan-favorite Emperor's Hand, Mara Jade?

Or they could take the easy and uncreative out and go with a clone. Which is what they did.

Easy and uncreative pretty much sets the tone for the whole game. While the story in the first one was interesting, with betrayals within betrayals and new insights into the early days of the Rebellion, The Force Unleashed II opens on Kamino with Vader telling Starkiller that he's a clone. Starkiller get's a little emo, decides he cares more about Juno Eclipse (his love interest from the first game) than anything else, and runs away to go find her. That's it, that's the whole plot. Which brings me to my second complaint... the game is really short. I mean, the first one was kind of short, but TFU2 is like half the length of the first game. There's the starting level on Kamino, then Starkiller goes to Cato Neimoidia to find Kota (whom Vader mentioned was there), just to ask Starkiller where Juno was. For some stupid reason (and fan service), Starkiller goes to Dagobah (which really isn't even a level, as there's no enemies and is completed by walking from point A to point B), before going to the ship in the Rebel Fleet that Juno is on. Bad stuff happens, Juno gets captured, and that ship becomes the third level in the game. Then Starkiller goes back to Kamino to rescue Juno and confront Vader. The end. Without spoiling anything else, at least both endings to the Force Unleashed II leave the plot open for more sequels now.

Despite my complaints about the crappy plot and the brevity of the game, it's really not all bad. In face, the game play has been a little tweaked. Not only is it still fun to tear through armies of Stormtroopers with your Force Powers, it's actually more fun now. You've still got your basic grip, push, and lighting powers, but they seem more effective now. It's easier to kill with a Force Push now, or once you've grabbed something (or someone) with a Force Grip, you can charge it with Force Lightning so that it (or he) explodes after being thrown. Distilled to its basic elements, the Force Unleashed II is a game that's more fun to play than the first one.

Improvements to game play don't really make up for the game's shortcomings, though. The fact that you can probably beat the game in one sitting (it took me three, but I was playing pretty casually) combined with the weak plot practically screams, "I'm a half-assed and half-done sequel that was rushed out in time for the holidays!" Because yeah, it's kind of fun to play, but it's ultimately a game that's too short to justify its $60 price tag on consoles, or even its $40 price tag for the PC version.

If you liked the Force Unleashed and wanted to check out the sequel, by all means give it a rental. But no one, not even the most hardcore Star Wars fanboy, should waste the money to purchase it.

Final Score: C-

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The force Unleashed 3 is on the ropes whether it will be made or not.

The Goat Rapist