Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 - PS3 Review
I'll admit that I'm a bit of a Star Wars fan boy. I've loved the movies, love the universe, love most of the games and desperately wish George Lucas would make a sequel trilogy with the original cast now a few decades older. A couple of years ago we fell in love with LucasArts' action title Star Wars: The Force Unleashed which brought in a new set of characters and storyline as well as some pretty engrossing gameplay. Now, a couple of years on, and the same development team brings us a sequel, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II.
|Using some Force Powers in TFU2.|
Set between the events of Episode III and Episode IV this sequel sees Starkiller return and embark on a journey to discover his own identity and to reunite with his one true love, Juno Eclipse. In Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, Starkiller is once again the pawn of Darth Vader—but instead of training his protégé as a ruthless assassin, the dark lord is attempting to clone his former apprentice in an attempt to create the Ultimate Sith warrior. The chase is on – Starkiller is in pursuit of Juno and Darth Vader is hunting for Starkiller.
As with the previous game in this series this is a third person action game which sees you progressing, as Starkiller, through a series of levels in order to find Juno, but also discover who you are. At your disposal are two light sabers, and in a rather cool twist you can customise these to provide improved powers or regeneration, and a series of Force powers.
|Starkiller takes on a heavier enemy.|
These Force powers include Force Lightning, Force Push, and Force Grip which will get you through the game while a couple of others provide a bit of variety but little else although the new Mind Trick sees enemies do strange things - perhaps jump off walkways, or even attack Lord Vader! The gameplay is pretty smooth, the range of enemies is certainly reduced from the original game making things a little 'samey' after a period of time.
If there is one area of this game which we absolutely fell in love with it's the battle with The Gorog. If you thought that Rancor's were big creatures in the Star Wars universe just wait until you see this guy who towers over, well, pretty much everything. It's a boss battle on the scale of those in God of War or Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - although not quite as fun. Still it's a rare highlight in this game.
|Look out behind...|
Beyond the main game the developers have included a series of 10 Challenges accessible through the main menu. These are, well, challenges which may see you defending an area for a set period of time or taking out a number of enemies. Nothing to do with the main story, and being playable in single player online has to question the longevity and value.
Sadly we did have some disappointments with The Force Unleashed II. First of all the gameplay, while good, does become quite repetitive. We got through a large majority of the game simply using the Force Lightning power and switched to the Light Sabers only when a certain enemy type required it. There really is little need to use anything else besides the odd Force Grip to move a platform or door and occasional Quick Time Event. Now perhaps that's my gameplay style and fault, but the developers should have pushed the gameplay to make you use different powers. Continuing on the gameplay theme we found the levels in Force Unleashed II very linear and quite dull. No open vistas or battlefields here...
|Starkiller uses some Force Lightning.|
Another disappointment has to do with the game length which is probably around 5 hours total - far too short for a release which lacks any form of multi-player. What's worse is that the storyline doesn't have the same level of interest or engagement as the original title. Yes Starkiller we know you're looking for Juno. We know you want to see how you're still alive. Don't repeat it every cut-scene. Still, we've seen much worse in the story department in other games. Finally it is bitterly disappointing to see that in 2010 we have games such as this, with short single player experiences, that still lack multi-player. Surely running around a few maps with Force powers could have been fun, and not too hard to implement. It smacks of a rushed product.
Visually this game is very much a mixed bag. First of all the cut-scenes are simply jaw-dropping on occasion with plenty of "Star Wars" styled moments, locations, characters and camera locations. It really is fantastic and brings the story together quite well indeed. Menus too are slick. Also impressive is the way in which LucasArts' development team has used Havok, Euphoria and Digital Molecular Matter for the physics, animation and material distortion in the game. This all combines to create a very realistic game world visually.
|Using Force Push to deal with some enemies.|
Now we move to the in-game visuals and they are quite interesting indeed. The development team has nailed some of the features such as Force powers including the Force Lightning and Force Push while the animation on characters also impresses. While the game holds a fairly solid 30fps frame rate, it does occasionally dip when the action heats up.
If there is one aspect of this game that the developers pretty much nailed it's the audio. Of course the game is littered with the classic John Williams Star Wars music and it sounds fantastic as always. LucasArts has also had access to the Skywalker Sound audio databases to ensure sound effects impress while the games speech, and there is plenty of it in the numerous cut-scenes also sounds pretty impressive.
|Starkiller can throw objects with Force Powers.|
Review By: Dave Warner
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|GRAPHICS||Some parts are pretty dull texture wise but the effects such as Force Lightning and animations are impressive.||76%|
|SOUND||Some decent voice acting and great music and effects abound. It certainly sounds Star Wars-ey.||90%|
|GAMEPLAY||It's good and fun, but ultimately repetitve with the same attacks and Force powers getting you through no problems.||75%|
|VALUE||We finished the game in around 5 hours, no multiplayer and only a few challenges to keep you returning. Not enough really.||60%|
|OVERALL||As Star Wars fans we enjoyed this title, but it's not one that will win any awards for gameplay or longevity. Worth checking out, just don't expect the earth...||72%|