Star Wars : The Force Unleashed II

The first forray into Darth Vader’s secret apprentice, Starkiller, was met with conflicted reviews, to say the least.  Still, the announcement of a sequel, along with some changes to the game had many anticipating it’s arrival.  Furthermore, this writer was glad to see the PC port of the game announced as on schedule to release alongside it’s console brethren, sparing us from the suspended animation long wait the first port saw.  Now, the only questions left were how Lucasarts could continue a seemingly contained and complete story, and still keep things relevant to the timeline between Episodes III and IV.

The Story

This is what I'd like to do with my game disc!

I know there may still be some who have yet to complete the first game(including one of our own writers, whom I know has a copy on his digital shelf).  That being said, it is tough to discuss the pickup and continuation of Force Unleashed II without spoilers.  So, let’s skim some details and say that the opening has Starkiller tasked by Vader to seek out and destroy the returning character and Jedi Knight, General Rahm Kota.  Amidst a confrontation, Vader is defied, and the young apprentice flees.  He must escape Vader’s grasp on Kamino, and go in search of Kota, but for what purpose?  If you are a fan of the first game, then just stop here, because this is as interesting as the story gets.  Basically, Starkiller goes on a blind rampage spanning a skimpy two more locales, one of which does not even contain any combat segments, and before you know it, the book snaps closed, with the choice of Light and Dark Side flavored endings.  While I did not like the linking of the first game with Episode IV, there was a coherent, tangible story within the game, that compelled the player.  The same cannot be said for Force Unleashed II. In fact, I am certain that my 10 year old could have penned a more interesting and riviting backdrop for Starkiller’s rage fueled antics.

The Gameplay

Yes Yoda, please turn your back, pretty it will not be!

Gameplay follows much like the first game, only completely buggy, completely uninspired and completely shallow.  Starkiller lays waste to anything in his path in God of War style combat, dual wielding lightsabers.  In a nice twist, you can choose what saber crystals to equip-and each one you find may offer different bonuses.  If you want to dual wield the crystals, you’ll have to find them both.  Only one new power is introduced, Mind Trick.  This allows Starkiller to control up to three enemies at a time, with an obvious limitation on boss characters.  I would like to say that the combat is still satisfying, but even on it’s lowest settings, the game chugs and skips as if you were watching a Star Wars Robot Chicken stop-motion claymation filming.   I would like to say that the campaign takes about three hours to complete, but I’m sure that would not factor in the time spent troubleshooting the game, needlessly updating drivers, and ultimately spent waiting for the choppiness and glitching to subside so you can continue your quest.  The game takes place across four worlds, one of which is visited twice, and another of which does not even feature any combat.  All of the first game’s combos have been force pushed out of the picture, and now, your force points may only be used to upgrade your force abilities.  The entire upgrade system has been stripped down to a bare minimum, giving the player very little incentive to customize or replay the game.  If you were not a fan of the Star Destroyer segment of the first game, you will be baffled and apalled at it’s attempted replacement in the sequel, it is thankfully less frustrating, and even more unimpressive and uninspiring.  If you are a glutton for punishment, then the game offers a series of challenge rooms that test your skills in combat and in some additional objective based scenarios.  I have three times the recommended video RAM on my GPU, and cannot find any troubleshooting tricks to get this game working smoothly–even by resorting to a hack, found online, to remove the 30frame per second cap coded in, and replace it with a 60 frame per second one.  The game has been released, in what I believe, to be an unpayable state, so if I cannot dissuade you from a purchase, I would at least encourage you to wait until a patch has been released.

The Verdict

Starkiller should lead a rebellion on Lucasarts for this midiclorian disaster!

OK, good things first.  I can’t say I completely hated this game – the Mind Trick power was fun to use, the saber crystal customization was a great idea, the opening sequence was very good and the boss battle on the second world was pure genius.  However, those brief shining moments are overshadowed by a buggy mess of a game that loses any hope of a story before it even gets off the ground.  This game is horrible in every possible way.  All semblance of basic plot and story elements are missing in action, the voice acting in the endgame sounds as if it were done via an iphone sound-board app, and it’s ridiculously short length and multitude of bugs make it even a poor rental.  Even with a patch, to fix some of the issues, this game is sloppy, uninteresting, and way too short to be worth your time or money.  It seems as if the developers stopped programming after the first two levels, and the rest of the game was force pushed together with chewing gum and duct tape, using whatever leftover concept art and pieced together voice over lines could be found on the Lucasarts cutting room floor.  If you are a fan of the first game, go play it again, and don’t let this sloppy sequel defile the interesting story and lore of that game.

[starreview tpl=14 size=’30’]

UPDATE : 11/10/2010 – Since writing the review, I have been able to patch my Nvidia graphics drivers and alleviate some of the framerate issues.  However, this doesn’t fix all the bugs, for example, one involving a grapple move where instead of finishing off an opponent, the game glitches, removing your opponent from in front of you and ‘beaming’ them down to the ground.  This takes away what should be the killing blow of an air combo, and gives your opponent the advantage, completely negating any usefullness of that move because of a glitch.  I’ve completed a second, complete playthrough of the game, in it’s patched state, and I stand by my score.  I think a game should be judged, as it is released, and while I do understand the need to stay on top of driver updates, I don’t think a game should be completely crippled if you don’t have the newest ones installed.  Even with new drivers, the framerate chugs here and there, and my other issues with the game—the story, among others—are not so easily fixed.

7 thoughts on “Star Wars : The Force Unleashed II

  1. Ouch. I have the game myself on the Xbox, and I only got the chugging issue on the first part of the second level, and after playing it again it's not happening now. The Dagobah level was a joke, it shouldn't have been in the game. I actually like both Force Unleashed games, they contain good Star Wars action, my only problem is Starkiller himself.
    (Possible Spoilers)

    Vader getting captured by the Rebels is also a joke, why is Vader not shown as being stronger than Starkiller? He's the one who trained him, right?! The ONLY way this story can be set straight is if ALL, and I mean all of the Force Unleashed characters die, that way it sets up for Obi Wan being "Our only hope." There were a lot of missed opportunities in this game, hopefully the third game will get rid of Starkiller, set the saga straight, and hopefully move on to the expanded universe. I think my overall problem with Starkiller, is that he has this god-like character shield where absolutely nothing rivals him, can stop him, or kill him, and it's not done in a Rambo-esque fashion either.

  2. The best heroes are the ones who go through harsh situations like Rambo, John Matrix, Dutch, and reach their goal by taking a beating and killing a lot of badies. Starkiller does everything except for taking a beating. He can even glide now using the force…………………….. I hate to say it, but he's too overpowered, it's lame. Alrighty I'm done ranting now.

  3. I agree about Dagobah, and I COMPLETELY agree about Starkiller—he reminds me of Alma, from the FEAR series. Both characters are extremely omnipotent, and any possible way of bringing them down will only disappoint fans—-not to mention, as you pointed out, all the loose ends have to be tied up because of the storyline tying into Episode IV. Meaning, that most, if not all main characters have to die, and I thought that the Kamino facility, ESPECIALLY with the story TFU2 took, was going to have to be destroyed.

  4. The end of the game, while I did not want to post any spoilers in my review, was not only ridiculous, but it left a HUGE opening that needs to be tied up before the onset of Episode IV—-which the game should have continued and wrapped up, without waiting for another game in the franchise! It's a shame, while I didn't like the way the first one tied into Ep. IV, and I felt the same way about Starkiller's power completely breaking the universe, the first game was really enjoyable, despite a chugging framerate and some bugs. It had a deep story, and even revisiting worlds in the game was not at all repititous, it flowed very well. I even enjoyed the DLC missions, and thankfully PC players didn't pay extra for them. This isn't half the game the first was, even with the Challenge missions added.

  5. I agree with you about the first game. The way it tied in made sense, and Starkiller's death actually had meaning. In all truth I hope the dark side ending in Force Unleashed 2 is the canon ending at this rate, I also felt that the challenge missions were a little unnecessary. They should have just focused on adding content to the game, I don't care about jump-dashing from one spot to the next until I reach the end. I think a lot of my bashing comes from me playing the Jedi Knight games like crazy, you had balanced gameplay, AWESOME saber fights, and a good original trilogy feel. That right there is my biggest problem with the force unleashed, it's meant to lead up to the original trilogy but it feels too advanced if you understand what I mean. This where it's supposed to be the dark ages of the Star Wars universe, but yet there's a guy that can handle both Vader and the Emperor with ease if he wanted to…………………….

  6. Jedi Knight was amazing, all of them. I couldn't agree more, I wish they had done the series in the Old Republic days, rather than the Lucas Trilogy timeline. They would have lost the allure and selling point of Vader's Secret Apprentice, but it would have made more sense and not blown that 'Dark Ages/dark times' theory out of the water. Not only is Starkiller waaaay too powerful, but look at so many of the enemies, how many Jedi are floating around(when they have all supposedly been exterminated), and all of the cool forces the Imperials have at their disposal—-that suspiciously are absent from Episodes IV, V and VI! Strange how they have all these Dark Troppers and sick, huge carbonite spewing flamethrowing droids that never appear in those movies! They broke their own storyline—but the first was still a good game.

  7. Looking back at the videos of the canned Battlefront 3 makes me sad, I'd much rather have that over Force Unleashed. I also think that series would have been a better outlet of explaining the gap between episode 3 and 4.

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