Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Review

Platforms: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo DS, iOS
Developers: LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts

Star Wars is something that a lot of us have close in our hearts and with the release of The Force Awakens, I think it’s only fitting that I do a post on Star Wars!

You could say that Star Wars games haven’t been all that great in the last 10 years (except for Battlefront 2 and the latest Battlefront). The 2005 Revenge of the Sith game wasn’t bad as we got to experience the story, but  overall the game was less than stellar as there were a few problems. The Force Unleashed series however gave us a different story with new characters in the timeline between episodes 3 and 4. The sequel, Force Unleashed II wasn’t as good as the first game, but there are some positives about the game. I’ll tell you what I think about the game right here!

Just a quick warning! This post may have a spoiler or two lurking about, so continue at your own risk!

The Force Unleashed II takes place a year before Episode Four’s A new Hope with Darth Vader creating a clone of Starkiller, who is the main protagonist of both Force Unleashed games. It’s a little insane that Vader created a clone of a force sensitive being, which I didn’t think could be done, but hey it’s Vader and he can do anything and he wanted a secret apprentice who would obey his every command. What better than a clone?

The Starkiller clone was able to remember bits of his past from the original Starkiller, which Vader cannot allow to happen. Starkiller escapes after seeing a vision of Darth Vader killing him when he couldn’t destroy test droids, embarking him on a journey to find out his past. This involves finding his original’s love interest, Juno Eclipse. This sets Starkiller on a dangerous path as he goes up against the Empire and other challenges.

The storyline was actually one of the best parts of the game to be honest because it was clear what the objective was there are a few surprises that you encounter along the way. In regards to the whole love interest thing, I really couldn’t care less about that because I didn’t even really care about Juno as a character. Although having to help Starkiller find out who he was  is a nice direction for the story and it made me as a player, want to help the Starkiller character.

Kota_Starkiller
Kota and Starkiller

The gameplay was great at times, but it severely lacked in certain areas. First of all the fast paced combat with the use of combos made the gameplay feel a little more interesting. You can string together a number of buttons to execute different combos and the longer you string the buttons together, the more damage you would do and the more stylish the combo. You could also mix together normal saber strikes with Force Lightning to fry and stun your enemies or with Force Push to get you some breathing space and to control the area around you.

These powers include the use of Starkiller’s Lightsaber Powers, Force Push, Force Lightning, Force Grip, Mind Trick (these are the Troopers you are looking for!), Saber Throw and Force Repulse. These powers are utilised throughout the whole game and some situations require you to use certain powers to get past. For example to get through some large doors you’d have to use Force Push to break them down! Other times you might have use Force Lightning on generators to power something else. The Force Repulse power is great to use because you make Starkiller use the Force to unleash a massive explosion or repulsion against everything around you, which is so much damn fun to use! Probably the most fun Force Power is Force Grip because I was able to grab a Trooper or two and fling them into structures, laser shields and other Troopers. Who wouldn’t love to do that?!

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Throughout the game you collect Force Points which you can spend on your existing Force Powers to upgrade them up to three times. Investing in an upgrade for Force Lightning makes it briefly stun and affect up to three enemies at once.

However if it weren’t for the enjoyable force powers that I could use, I wouldn’t have played the game for long. The goal of the game was apparently to make you feel like a mega powerful Jedi and it certainly it does achieve that by giving you these incredibly powerful force abilities.

I loved using Force Lighting to infuse my lightsabers with electricity and unleash a flurry of saber strikes upon every Stormtrooper! Although against AT-STs and other bigger enemies, you’ll have to be careful how you fight them until you can activate Quick Time Events to finish them off! These Quick Time Events aren’t bad and at first they look great, but after doing the same Quick Time Event against a certain enemy can really become quite tedious, but they’re easy to execute and that’s good enough when you’re fighting a difficult enemy!

As I played the game I found many Holocrons which are cubed shaped items that offer different rewards depending on the colour of the Holocron. Yellow Holocrons grant extra experience points, green increases your maximum health, blue expands the maximum Force Power bar (used to execute Force Powers) and red unlocks different saber crystals.

red_holocron
Red Holocron

These saber crystals don’t just change the colour of Starkiller’s lightsabers, they add additional beneficial effects. One variation of the green saber crystal (Healing) gives you a chance to regain health after defeating enemies. An orange crystal (Incineration) gives you a chance to set your enemies on fire when you strike them, which is very cool! What’s also very nice is that you can mix and match the colours of your lightsabers, and since you have two, you can have a red saber with a green one or maybe a purple with a green one!

saber_crystals
Saber Crystals Menu

Most of the fights felt like I was playing God of War and while it’s not a particularly bad thing in some games, it just didn’t feel right in a Star Wars game. It was almost like it didn’t know which game it was! I mean it felt great taking on hordes of Stormtroopers and Lightsaber wielding troopers, but doing this every single time you get into combat isn’t fun and as I was playing the game, I almost “turned off” during a lot of the fights and just button mashed until there were no enemies left.

Even the boss battles were a little boring and too “God of War-esque”. I wasn’t a fan of fighting against a gargantuan sized monster and I miss just having fights against a smaller sized enemy, like a Bounty Hunter or a Sith. It almost felt like the developers were trying too hard, which isn’t really a good thing. There’s a boss called “Gorog” where you literally attack each arm three times until you get to the second half of the fight. Even the second half you’re basically repeating the same thing over and over again until the Gorog is dead. These boss fights didn’t really feel creative or imaginative for a Star Wars game.

There are different costumes for you to unlock and you can use any of the costumes you have unlocked at any time, however the most annoying thing about the game is that it makes you reload your last checkpoint after switching a to a different costume. This is why I never change outfits, the load times are just too dreadful.

One of the best things the game has to offer is the detailed and well put together cinematic sequences. I absolutely adored watching every cinematic and it really helped string together the story and tie (get it?) things up after each mission.

The last thing I’d like to say about the gameplay is the sheer volume of glitches. Oh my dear god is this the glitchiest game I have ever played. It’s plagued with constant clipping, slow frame rates, at times some clunky controls and very rarely a few strange moments where the A.I. of some of the Stormtroopers was questionable. All of these things can really lower the quality and the ability to enjoy the game because I was always thinking of that awful clipping that occurred during a real time sequence.

Feels like a Star Wars game in terms of environments, character models, sound design. You get to see familiar and unfamiliar sites on different planets and it wouldn’t be a complete Star Wars game without adventuring on multiple strange planets!

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The voice acting wasn’t bad and there isn’t much to say on it except that Darth Vader’s voice was good despite the absence of James Earl Jones’ voice, well it’s a lot better than the voice of Vader in EA’s Battlefront game!

Conclusion

Overall Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is an average game with its positives and it’s glaring flaws. If you’re a big Star Wars fan, you’ll certainly love the combat and story aspects of the game where you’ll have the power to control the force and use it to obliterate anything and anyone standing in your way! Although I wouldn’t get your hopes if you have yet to play it because it’s not the greatest Star Wars game and the flaws that I’ve stated earlier in this review show that. Anyhow I’d still recommend this game to any avid Star Wars fan, especially as it’s very affordable in price nowadays.

Score: 60%

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