As many people who pretend not to know me are aware of; I am a huge Star Wars fan. I know that Boba Fett is a Mandalorian, I know that there were four IG-88 droids and I know what planet General Grievous is from. It’s Kalee by the way. So I was actually surprisingly enthusiastic after getting through a pretty lackluster text crawl and seeing Darth Vader’s ship fly to Kamino. The music and some rare set pieces were actually rather enjoyable for me, if just nostalgically.
So we find out that Starkiller was cloned and is now some kind of apprentice for Darth Vader, or something, whatever. We learn practically nothing about any character which makes the story feel unmotivated and vacuous, which is worse because the story is that without even adding anything else to the equation. It takes the information from the first The Force Unleashed and carries it here so if you didn’t know exactly what happened you’ll be more lost than a Jawa on Hoth.
The whole clone aspect is brought up, mentioned a few times but never expanded in any way. You’re told that it’s impossible to clone Jedi but we see Vader use a bunch of duplicated Starkillers, childishly categorized into blue force users and brown lightsaber users. And that’s never addressed. Characters including Proxy and Boba Fett show up but they barely do anything. Proxy is just a connection to the surprisingly superior first game and Fett simply kidnaps Juno Eclipse, who is apparently the love interest and primary objective for no clear reason, and never shows up again. And when Starkiller travels to Dagobah, for the hell of it, he has a shockingly short chat with Yoda that may as well have been one of them saying “sup”. The story is so hasty and lackluster, filled with meaningless boss fights, enemy introductions and drawn out situations. I can barely comprehend what even happened and why. Starkiller himself has miniscule amounts of character that crumble away near the climax when he starts constantly shouting “Where is she!?”. After the third time I expected him to punch The Joker in the face.
|Why didn't it fire that many before?!|
The combat is just as crude and lifeless as the story. Now, it may be a surprise to hear this from something who is pretending to be a Video Game Critic, but, I have a slight fondness for quick time events. I think they have the potential to seamlessly mesh the gameplay in with a cut scene therefore creating a cinematic and fully interactive experience. We’re not there yet and The Force Unleashed II is evidence of that. The QTE could have been quite effective if large enemies didn’t show up so often, turning many fights into obnoxious chores. And when you slash and shock stupid bipedal robots with flamethrowers you begin their cinematic execution and the last button you have to push is completely random. It makes sense having ‘circle’ be force push and ‘triangle’ use lightning, but no matter what button you hit Starkiller just spits out another little force push and then flips around a bit, which the game acts out for me. It would have been so awesome if these events gave you the ability to choose what moves you did to take something down, using the cinematic moment for added focus on single enemies and stylish moves instead of zapping and hitting things like a steroidal BioShock. For example; you fight a large target and engage its QTE, but now you can choose whether to damage it with a lightsaber strike, make it stumble with force push or stun it with lightning. All of these choices have distinct effects on the enemy and even things around it. If I just have to push ‘square’ for Starkiller to begin a destructive display of Jedi acrobatics then what’s the point of me doing anything or the oppurtunity even being there?
I was told that dismemberment was present here but it happens so little it may as well never exist. I threw several storm troopers into a giant fan only for them to boringly bounce off and your lightsaber just cuts people slightly which makes slicing an AT-TE in half make even less sense. This series does not have a tendency of being child friendly. Realistic dismemberment would have been monumentally effective, for an effectively visceral experience and especially for sales.
The camera is always placed too far away from the action. I felt like a kid who was smacking his toys together so I mostly just swung my lightsaber around and sporadically zapped storm troopers until a door opened, because doors only open until everyone is dead in a room, common fact. Also, stop inventing enemies just for specific games! It’s exactly how I feel about Star Wars Lego that makes up ships like a Tie Defender. Here’s an idea; use enemies and vehicles that are familiar and comfortable in the Star Wars universe and make Starkiller less powerful. Making every enemy and situation large and explosive doesn’t work because there’s no contrast to anything else around it. Larger enemies do mildly mix a situation up, but because they appear in virtually every fight you’re in, they are the situation. And now they can kick you when you’re close, so they at least pose a threat, an annoying and completely harmless threat. Besides that they either ineffectively blast you with lasers or fire missles that you can counter back with such an easily timed deflection that it took me a while to master it because I assumed that “deflect missles back just as they are about to hit you” meant less than 20 feet in front of me. There were even these large droids with General Grievous faces which would have been very interesting if it was more than just pretentious aesthetic to make the developers seem deep. Overall, the combat jarringly jumps from being a rather successful display of Starkiller’s raw power to systematically quick time event-ing large droids to death.
|She survives by the way.....yay.........|
Worst of all is the excruciatingly tedious fight with Darth Vader himself. There is absolutely no strategy except zapping him for a millisecond and then flailing your lightsabers in his general direction. He effortlessly blocks everything else and is such a stupidly repetitive ‘challenge’ that fighting him as an end boss is just depressing, especially for such an iconic character. He has the mentality of a Nintendo 64 boss, continuously throwing things at you despite the fact that you’ve thrown them back at him 20 times, running away and letting his goons take care of you, taking ridiculous amounts of damage and jumping to a platform only for you to jump after him. It’s only afterwards when he has Juno hostage and orders you to obey his commands when things actually start to get drastically more interesting. But all that potential is instantly ripped away when Juno takes a swing at Vader and he just throws her out a window which makes his surprisingly stirring speech, which could have made the game go for another 14 hours and possibly be good, completely pointless.
And that’s what this game is; pointless. Its story is horrendously tacky and short, going to three locations; two planets and one ship. The combat, while sometimes mildly fun, is basic, bland and never becomes anything other than ‘Starkiller bombastically thrashes his lightsabers around and spits out lightning and blue wind’. It’s just depressing because The Force Unleashed series had such an opportunity of being amazing. Especially since it actually acts outside the canon of Star Wars and treats its characters with relative respect. I loved it when Boba Fett, Vader and even Proxy showed up but they just didn’t do enough. Like Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic; The Force Unleashed II didn’t have to be Star Wars to be good. With more effort in story, combat and pretty much everything else it could have been a really endearing series of games. Instead it’s another grotesque attachment on the hideous mutant that is the Star Wars franchise. I chose the Lightside ending by the way. I’m a nice guy.