Why can’t developers ever get it right? In every Star Wars game that allows us to play as a Jedi, there’s one critical mistake they always make: turning the metal-slicing, limb-lopping light saber into something that works more like a truncheon. Wouldn’t it be nice if, for once, we could make our digital Jedi cut his opponents clean in half like in the movies, instead of bludgeoning them to death like a barbarian?
If it sounds like I’m working up to the counterpoint that, perhaps, this game got it right, well… I’m not. Our returning hero wields two light sabers this time, but unfortunately he still has to beat even human-sized opponents black and blue with them as if they were metal poles. True, he can hack off limbs and heads occasionally, but it still doesn’t convey the authentic light saber feel.
If it sounds like I’m making too much of the light saber thing – well, am I? The light saber is as iconic, if not more so, of Jedi than Force powers, and if they’re going to do it, they should do it right, dammit! Anyway, in case you didn’t know, The Force Unleashed II picks up where the first game left off, and assumes the “good ending”. “What?” You might ask. Starkiller sacrificed himself for the greater good, didn’t he? Well, yes, that’s true. Turns out that Darth Vader had a clone of Starkiller created so that he could use his incredible powers once again. However, threatening to kill this new clone unless he performed well backfired, and Starkiller mark two runs off to save his own skin. That’s where you come in. Your job is to guide Starkiller on his quest to find out who he truly is and to free himself from Vader’s control once and for all.
Along the way, Starkiller will have to contend with armies of enemies, hulking robots and giant monsters. Luckily he has his trusty light sabers and Force powers to teach them a lesson. Now, we’ve already established that the light sabers in The Force Unleashed II aren’t perfect, but they serve their purpose: allowing Starkiller to deliver combos and special moves to damage enemies – which would be perfectly acceptable if they weren’t light sabers, weapons which should be able to slice through anything instantly! No, I’m not going to let that go. Luckily, his Force powers work pretty well. He’s still limited to Push, Grip and Lightning, and they leave players feeling suitably powerful, but some new powers would have been nice.
While the controls have been tuned up and one or two gameplay elements have been streamlined, the Force Unleashed II still isn’t quite as refined or challenging at some other action games. It’s not bad, though, it’s just not brilliant. On the plus side, it’s absolutely gorgeous to look at and the epic Star Wars music is as good as ever. It’s also a fairly compelling story which should add some value to Star Wars fanatics.