Last year I played through LucasArts' 2008 classic Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
on the XBox 360. Like most people who played the game, I had quite a fun time blasting my way through the galaxy as Darth Vader's secret apprentice, Starkiller. That game also has one of my favorite opening levels of all time, where the player takes the role of Vader himself, slaughtering scores of Wookiees on their home planet of Kashyyyk. The Force Unleashed
is a lot of fun, though I don't think it's perfect. There are a few frustrating platforming sections, a sometimes finicky camera and few aggrevating boss battles. In general though, I share in the overall positive critical consensus of this game.
Before I get into Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
I want to explain how I tend to feel about disappointing sequels. I usually find myself attracted to sequels which are regarded as disappointing or even hated for being terrible. For example, after enjoying the first two Fable
games, the negative reception to Fable III
made me way more interested to play it than I already was. Part of it is stubbornly feeling like I have to experience the bad game myself. Part of it is a refusal to believe that a follow up to a great title could possibly be bad. Part of it is sadism mixed with morbid curiosity. The bottom line is that I'm actually a little biased toward games that get a ton of hate, especially sequels to games I like.
This disposition, and the fact that I picked up The Force Unleashed II
for two dollars, may explain why I have a generally positive opinion of the game. In some ways, I even prefer it over the first game.
This time around, players take control of a clone of Starkiller and again literally unleash all of the force powers Star Wars
fans have come to know and love. Starkiller can swing and throw his lightsabers, force choke and throw his enemies, and shoot bolts of lightning from his fingertips. The plot of this game is rather thin. Though I don't agree with many critics who swooned over the plot of the first game's story, the plot of the second game can be summed up in one sentence: Starkiller's clone tries to find Juno, Starkiller's love interest in the first game. Though the story is simple, LucasArts' signature writing quality and production values are present here.
Gameplay sample courtesy of Spook's Gameplay
Speaking of production values, the graphics and sounds in this game are top notch, as players could always expect from the studio (at least until they were acquired and dismantled, for lack of a better term, by The Walt Disney Company). I'm not one to pick apart a game's technical performance, so I won't comment on the game's exact frame rate, but I can say that the game seemed to run smoothly on the Playstation 3 with little to no slowdown.
So why were people disappointed in this game? When it launched, it was criticized for being repetitive, uninspired, lacking innovation, and two of my favorite criticisms of any game, for being too short and too easy. In all honesty, I cannot argue with any of these criticisms. In many ways, the game feels like a step back from its predecessor. However, when I played The Force Unleashed II
, long after its release, I enjoyed the game quite a bit, not in spite of it's shortcomings, but perhaps because of them. Keeping in mind that I got a hold of this game for about the same price as a cup of coffee, and keeping in mind that I was well aware of the criticisms of the game at its launch and knew what to expect, I enjoyed every minute of it. I found the streamlined story actually made the game move a lot faster. I wasn't in the mood to play a long game, so the approximately six hour run I had of the game felt perfect. The game was pretty easy on the normal difficulty setting, but it never felt too
easy. The progression system felt a little shallow, but never unsatisfying. In the end, I appreciated quickly blasting my way through the slick looking adventure culminating in a serious beat down on Daddy Vader himself.
It is important and interesting to note that the game varies from console to console, with the Wii and PS2 versions being completely different from the XBox 360 and PS3 versions. The above pertains to the XBox 360 and PS3 versions of the games. All in all, if you're a fan of Star Wars
and are looking for a polished and fun action game you can't go wrong with either game in the Force Unleashed