The Force is a part of every single object in our galaxy, be it the highest rated AAA games… or poorly conceived sequels. Strikingly realistic visuals, an amazing score – those are things that fans have come to expect, but sadly there are just some things that Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II and LucasArts can’t seem to get right. Between pathetically short game play, a disjointed storyline, and issues that had carried over from the original, it’s hard to feel like a Jedi when the Force doesn’t do what you tell it to.
Starting at a juxtaposed time after the first game, you’re back playing as Starkiller, erstwhile apprentice to Darth Vader. While the question of how he survived between games seems like it is asked every five minutes (is he a clone, or is he the real thing?), what matters to him is that he wants to get back to his love, Juno, by whatever angst-fueled means necessary.
Expanding on the explosive abilities of the first iteration, the protagonist/antagonist Starkiller comes back with an upgrade to his already abusive Force Powers. Wielding abilities like Force Push, Force Lightning, and the new ability Mind Trick, you come out the gate with the ability amazingly powerful abilities including being able to grab TIE Fighters out of the air to hurl at your enemies, decapitate and sever limbs from Stormtroopers (which is a new and fun addition) and literally disintegrate anything in your path, given the right timing and ability.
Yet all that is moot after a few hours and a constant barrage of the same enemies over and again. Trying to make up for the lack of feeling of overall immensity that was so clear in the original, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 simplifies your choice of enemies and your impact on the environment to let you literally take down anything that moves. The end result is a simple seven hours of button mashing through small combos to get from point A to B. At no point during the game do you really see a challenge, nor do you see Starkiller really grow within the confines of the Star Wars universe. He starts out already all-powerful and omnipotent. Hell, he is Midichlorian incarnate.
It’s that lack of growth and continuity that really hurts the title from start to finish. With just a mere seven to nine hours of game play – depending on your difficulty – neither LucasArts nor the player can really settle down into the haphazard plot. You begin in the soaked depths of Kamino, only to pick up your missing pal General Kota and come right back. The gameplay seems like more of an expansion than a full game, using the flashy cut scenes only to give you a glimpse of characters you wish you could interact with, and places you would rather play in.
It’s a wonder that improvements were made from the first game at all, at least in the way that you won’t head towards the Dark Side from rage and frustration. While the camera is still static and problematic in its inability to move as you do, Force Grip and Force Throw blessedly got upgrades, giving you a clean chance to pick up that guard and toss him towards his buddy. In addition, the controls were simplified just a bit, giving you the ability to put together powerful saber attack combos, plus a bit of Mind Control or a Saber Throw without breaking stride. The downfall is that it gets so repetitive and easy that you forget what you’re doing, but it’s the thought that counts.
What probably makes STFU2 so bad is that regardless of its blatant disregard for continuity, context, player interaction, or levels of fun… you’re still going to play it if you’re a fan of Star Wars. LucasArts knows this and thus the sequel was made (with painfully obvious intentions on making this a trilogy). Given more time to get a bigger or broader story, a more dynamic set of skills for our friend Starkiller, or even having fixed the small things like the camera, it would have been a good game. Be you Padawan or Jedi, you have to have a lot more than the Force to sit and play through all of STFU2 without wanting to throw a controller in frustration.
ZoKnowsGaming gives Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II a very disappointed 4.5 out of 10.