Giant Bomb Review

44 Comments

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Review

3
  • X360

LucasArts' second Jedi action game looks nice and plays well enough, but it's too short and shallow to leave a lasting impression.


 Star Waaaarrrrrrrsssss, nothing but...
LucasArts had a good idea a couple of years ago to create an explosive, physics-driven Jedi action game, and thus Star Wars: The Force Unleashed was born. Unfortunately that game's combat suffered from some control and design issues that kept it from realizing its full potential, but at least it had a clear ambition to offer a great, epic Star Wars experience. The new sequel The Force Unleashed II doesn't even feel like it's trying to reach those same heights. It's a short, shallow, linear game with entertaining core mechanics but a paucity of all the other things that a really satisfying and memorable action game ought to have.

That core combat feels a little more refined and accessible than it was in the first Force Unleashed, but otherwise it really hasn't changed. You can still lift stormtroopers up into the air and fling them around, zap them with Force lightning, throw your lightsabers at them, or hit them with a quick Jedi mind trick to make them jump off a cliff (which is pretty funny). But that's about it. There's not much of an upgrade path for all these powers--you can merely put experience points into making them a bit more powerful--so you'll have seen just about all of the combat abilities, not to mention the small handful of enemy types, a couple of hours into the game. I had fun playing through the game, but man, there's not a lot of substance here.

The story doesn't feel much meatier. The first Force Unleashed ended with the demise of its protagonist, Starkiller, but this one starts with a contrivance that has Darth Vader creating a perfect clone of Starkiller with all his Jedi powers intact... not to mention all of his memories. So you're basically playing the same guy, rendering the last game's ending largely irrelevant. That could have been an interesting setup if the game explored some kind of contrast between the original Starkiller and this reproduction, but it ignores that element almost completely and instead gives you a thin, boilerplate tale about Starkiller helping the Rebellion attack the Empire and looking for Juno Eclipse, his pilot-slash-love interest from the first game, at the same time. Juno and the Jedi general Rahm Kota play very minor roles, but there's next to no dramatic weight in the storyline here. It mostly just serves to move you from one place to the next. 
 
 ...yep, more Star Wars.
Then again, there are very few places to see. You start out in the cloning facilities on Kamino, head over to the homeworld of those awful Asian-stereotyping business frogs from The Phantom Menace, fight some droids on a starship, then... go back to Kamino to fight the last boss. There's a bizarre little detour to Dagobah shoehorned into the middle of the game, where you run through an empty level for about five minutes, watch a quick out-of-place cutscene with Yoda (with no explanation of how Starkiller actually knows Yoda or knows where to find him), then leave the planet. It's a weirdly forced and unnecessary interlude crammed into a journey that isn't all that deep or interesting in the first place.

There's still an appeal to running around with two lightsabers and a bunch of crazy Force powers, laying waste to everything around you, and at least The Force Unleashed II looks great while you're doing all that. The game looks sharper and runs more smoothly than the last game, with some striking lighting and surface effects, and a nice motion blur that enhances the way everything moves. It's too bad there isn't more here to look at, but what's here looks surprisingly good.

It's just too bad there isn't more to this sequel in general, really. Aside from some very basic throwaway challenge levels and costumes to unlock, there's not much to do beyond the six or eight hours the story lasts. It feels like the developers had the right idea about how to meaningfully improve on the work they did in the first game, but then they failed to really flesh out a robust game around the core mechanics. This should have been a superior sequel, but there's not enough here to make it anything than a mildly enjoyable but ultimately underwhelming action game.
44 Comments
Edited by Discorsi

Yup, twas expected.

Posted by UberExplodey

threeee

Edited by tofes

Have to try the first game still...

Posted by TehJames

Short review..

Posted by Yummylee

With how much I disliked the original, and this being even worse off, this looks more like a 2 star game for me.

Posted by dragonzord

Kind of makes you NOT want a new Republic Commando.

Posted by JoelTGM

Well, at least it looks nice visually, sometimes.

Posted by Grissefar

Really, Brad? I had 1000 points on two stars. And you had to be generous. Dang.

Posted by KaosAngel

Par for the course for a Star Wars game.

Edited by gizmo88

Too bad, all this game needed was for the combat to be mildly challenging.  They should of learned their lessons after the first game. The attempts of adding Jet packed Stormtroopers and Light-saber wielding enemies really felt like a cheap cop out.

Posted by blaakmawf

Yea... I'm probably gonna buy it anyway. Curse my love for star wars!

Posted by Jedted

Looks like it'd be a fun rental atleast. 
Posted by DaBuddaDa

After being torn to shreds on the bombcast, a 3/5? Wow. The ending must have been amazing.

Posted by Yagami

My friend got STFU II. I thought it looked cool and all but luckily, I didn't get it. Great review B-rad, I didn't play through the entire game but I can say that from what I have read, all I can say is: I agree.

Edited by zombie2011

STFU! STFU2 is bad? 
 
guess thats why the 3rd got canned.

Posted by MarkWahlberg

Where's Katarn when you need him...

Posted by Brendan

GOD DAMN IT BRAD.  I had points bet on you giving this a 2 star rating!
Posted by OneManX

It sucks that they can't get these games right. because Starkiller, at least in the first TFU game, was an awesome character.

Posted by TomA

What a surprise. Fuck the Force Unleashed, it's way too ridiculous.

Posted by Undeadpool

Yeah, this pretty much echoes my sentiments. The only reason I bought the last game was because I really, really enjoyed where they took the plot, but this game had no real plot to speak of, so suddenly its flaws were MUCH more apparent.

Posted by stinky

if they should baaarrrrr wars, why not keep staaaar warrrs...

Posted by Tactical_Kill

Yes! I bet on this getting 3 stars.

Posted by DrWhat

Man. I bet 2 stars on this one.

Posted by MisterMouse

I wish they just took some elements from the first game, and had the clean technology from this game and combine them.... 

Posted by Norusdog

hurray for companies taking shortcuts to cash in.
 
This game had so much potential..but as usual falls short and shallow in so many ways.
 
kinda like the prequels.

Posted by KuribosShoe
@Grissefar: the game isn't bad, it's just short.  3 stars is pretty reasonable in my mind.
Posted by TheSilentTruth

Waitin' for that good ole price drop. I'll still buy it because I'm a Star Wars fan, but not at the full bounty.

Online
Posted by RE_Player1
@TehJames said:
" Short review.. "
It's a short game. 
Posted by HydraHam

Glad i decided to wait and red box this game instead of picking up the CE, now ill wait for black friday or when its 10$ on gamefly. 

Posted by me3639

Thanks BS was waiting to hear your thoughts.

Posted by Brackynews
Posted by Sheetsy77

I loved this game....

Posted by ptys

LucasArts and ILM need to invent a new department under the lines of customer feedback/research and development. You could not have a blanker cheque or spoon more silver to work with but yet they still f*#k everything related to Star Wars up!

Posted by Xiemos2

Three stars is overrating it, game was a piece of shit; and I even liked the first one..

Posted by sushisteve

Too bad they don't make non-Jedi Star Wars games anymore. Of all the games that should have gotten a sequel, Republic Commando was a great shooter and probably the best thing to come out of all those crummy prequels. You could even make the case for a Rogue Squadron type arcade flight sim taking place during the clone wars. Lucasarts are sitting on top of one of the most beloved nerd licenses and it's a shame to see it wasted.

Posted by SuperSambo
@sushisteve said:
" Too bad they don't make non-Jedi Star Wars games anymore. Of all the games that should have gotten a sequel, Republic Commando was a great shooter and probably the best thing to come out of all those crummy prequels. You could even make the case for a Rogue Squadron type arcade flight sim taking place during the clone wars. Lucasarts are sitting on top of one of the most beloved nerd licenses and it's a shame to see it wasted. "
Republic Commando was amazing!
Posted by Stevokenevo

Thats too bad for this game.  I really enjoyed the first.  Surely sequels that dont change too many gameplay mechanics are supposed to be superior and more fleshed out in terms of story, levels and abilities.  I really wish developers could just take abit more time to make their games all they could be.  This feels like a "youve got 18 months to make a game, go!".
Posted by Ghostiet
@SuperSambo said:
" @sushisteve said:
" Too bad they don't make non-Jedi Star Wars games anymore. Of all the games that should have gotten a sequel, Republic Commando was a great shooter and probably the best thing to come out of all those crummy prequels. You could even make the case for a Rogue Squadron type arcade flight sim taking place during the clone wars. Lucasarts are sitting on top of one of the most beloved nerd licenses and it's a shame to see it wasted. "
Republic Commando was amazing! "
Just give us a fucking sequel.
Edited by pa21ris

Brad your review is spot on. I played the game last week and finished the game in 5 hours! Which I did in one sitting. I played through it again on easy because I felt that any other difficulty made my lightsaber worthless. Also I am suprised by 3 stars, I  thought it would be 2, atleast that is what I would give it.

Posted by WinterSnowblind

Definitely think this is a rather generous review.  Then again, I felt the same about the first but it at least had a rather good story to draw you in.  The sequel utterly lacks that and is the very definition of a needless sequel.

Posted by Jimbo

We need a 'Most Phoned-In GOTY' category this year.  Some serious competition for that one.

Posted by SkinnyBlue

 Ah, well that's dissapointing. I guess I'll be waiting for a price drop on this one.
Edited by dscott160882

loved the game, but like the review says the game is defo to short.

Posted by vinsanityv22

This is by far the most fair review of TFU2 on the 'net. I can understand being "meh" towards elements of this game, but the out-and-out hatred leveled at it by other reviews is baffling. This game is fun as hell, but it could've been amazing if it didn't have certain things weighing it down. Good review, Brad.