STAR WARS THE FORCE UNLEASHED II (X360) Review
Since its birth the Star Wars franchise has churned out some of the biggest grossing movies in cinematic history, from the brilliantly done Return of the Jedi, to the not-so-brilliantly-done Episode III. Naturally due to the success of the various big screen outings the release of video-games based on the franchise was inevitable and over the years, since the early days of gaming we have seen some real classic Star Wars titles.
Over the past few years the Star Wars titles have come to life on their own, spawning brand new storylines and brilliant new ideas. When Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was released in 2008 it was heralded as the movie that never was. Bridging the two Star Wars trilogies together whilst introducing a brand new and rather likeable character, code named "Starkiller", who is Darth Vader’s secret apprentice.
Naturally the game was a massive success and despite a mixed response from critics sold well over 7 million copies worldwide. Aiming to build on the success of Force Unleashed, Lucas Arts have released the sequel, Force Unleashed II.
The basic plot is that Starkiller, or one of the many possible clones of the protagonist, created by Darth Vader has been given the objective of killing the rebel leader Kota. As we progress Starkiller soon begins to remember his previous life, throwing into doubt our clone status and instead of murdering General Kota we set out to rescue him and our love interest from the original game, Juno Eclipse.
As we are starting from a point in the story shortly after the first game ended we have quite a highly powered character and straight away the player is thrown into the action as Starkiller comes up against a raft of Stormtroopers, each as eager for some Jedi blood as the next. Wielding duel lightsabers Starkiller must carve his way through the enemy battalion; and doing so is brilliant fun and despite an average story it really makes the initial stages of the game enjoyable.
Anyone who is a fan of the Star Wars movie trilogies will be entranced by the combat elements as players can do everything they saw the young Luke Skywalker do and more. Taking control of an enemy Stormtrooper (thanks to the newly added Mind Control ability) and making him kill his own comrades? No problem. Use your mind to pick up any number of objects, charge it with lightning and turn it into a makeshift grenade? Sure thing. If the complex inner workings of the Jedi aren’t of any interest then players can always revert to the good old Lightsaber – or duel Lightsaber in our hero’s case. A few button taps will see Starkiller cut through entire armies of Stormtroopers like a hot knife through butter and the game is at its best when arms and legs are being lopped off at every opportunity.
After a while though the fact that we are a high level character begins to cause a problem as too much of a good thing can be overkill. There is much less character progression and essentially we use the same controls and abilities to power our way through waves of enemies who offer little variation or challenge. This would be ok if the script was exceptional, providing entertainment in addition to the gameplay but it is not and one of the major failings is that we have to put up with the "World’s most bitchy Jedi" General Kota throughout the journey. His shout over a radio connection soon become tiresome.
Despite being great fun to play in the early stages the lack of any sort of compelling storyline to break up the rampant action creates a rather one dimensional game that becomes tedious and tiresome after a couple of hours and those who continue to play may be disappointed with the fact that the story/game end after about 5 hours.
The ability to completely destroy Starkillers surroundings using some of the many Jedi Mind Tricks he has add a sense of brand realism to the game that is only intensified when we use a chunk of rock to blow up a spaceship or wipe out a fleet of Stormtroopers.
Unfortunately having to listen to the droning voice of General Kota soon leaves players reaching for the mute button as he mumbles advice (which sounds more like abuse) to Starkiller through the means of a shoddy sounding radio.
That said there are parts of the game which are fantastic; as mentioned earlier there is something very gratifying about wiping out entire armies with the use of Starkillers mind whilst slicing and dicing the survivors with the lightsaber is fun. It is just that this could have been so much more. As the great master Yoda would say; "disappointed I am."
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