Sometimes a hero should stay dead
Sometimes a characters story is very self contained and can be told in just one game, it's the reason why we don't have Brutal Legend 2: More Brutal or Psychonauts 2: Look more brains. While the original Force Unleashed story wasn't of Bioshock caliber it did finish the characters story perfectly. Besides how many loose ends can a characters story have when he kills himself at the end? According to Lucasarts he apparently had so much that they needed to find a way to bring him back from the dead.
The Story so far
The first game ended how any good Jedi story should end, the main character sacrificed himself for those he loved and in doing so emboldened them to start the rebellion. He didn't die in a way in which he could be easily brought back however he basically blew himself up while fighting Darth Vader and the Emperor. When he died he became one with the force, which basically means his body vanished Ala Obi-Wan. Having a dead protagonist meant either they had to find a way to bring him back from the dead or they had to go into the next game with a new one.
The campaign is short and linear, the story is unfortunately written like a fan fiction not a game written by a seasoned writer. It does exactly what you would expect a fan fiction to do. It takes characters that were important in the films and loosely sets it up so that they come into play with the story. The problem is that for the most part there is absolutely no reason behind all the cameos in the game, except I can't exactly call them cameos because they end up playing a role in the story of the game without actually being important. Let me explain, Warning there will be light spoilers but I'll keep it to a minimum.
You start out the game on the planet Kamino, which is a planet where the natives specialize in cloning and cloning on a vast scale. Your Darth Vaders apprentice again only this time he goes out of his way to make sure you realize your just a clone of the protagonist from the first game. Some things go down and before you know it your making your escape from the planet and Vader.
As soon as you escape from kamino you go off to find Kota he was basically your jedi mentor in the original game. The problem comes when after you find him, an argument erupts between you in which he 'passingly' mentions Kasyyyk and dagobah which is the planet that Yoda just happens to be on. Why he mentions Dagobah specifically is never mentioned or explained, so where do you go the planet the original protagonist was born and raised on or the planet that we saw in the movies? Dagobah of course. Why? Cause he mentioned it that's pretty much the only reason. There is no fighting on the planet, you just walk through this linear path collecting holocrons until you trigger the cut scene. Yoda is only in the cut scene and just this one, nothing becomes of what happens on dagobah. It's never mentioned again for the rest of the game. They throw in more and more important characters from the OT that you never actually meet with in the game just cut scenes. Boba Fett is in there, Princess Leia is in there, they keep throwing in the who's who of the star wars original trilogy. Which makes this more and more clear that nothing in this game should or could be considered canon anymore. Especially when it comes to the ending and your choices.
The gameplay is tighter and more polished with a lot of the extra bits tossed out, unfortunately nothing new is really tossed back in to even it out. The game has been filled with more QTE's than the previous one, from boss fights to larger enemies that you will have to fight on a generally regular basis. When it comes to the larger enemies it's not required to go into the QTE's however it tends to make it easy. For example if you are fighting an AT-ST which you had to do on several occasions in the original but place it with 20 stormtroopers and a couple of melee troops along side. If you manage to get the AT-ST down to low enough health it will be staggered and a prompt for the A button will come up. If you press it you go into a short little QTE scene, it removes you out of harms way from anything else around giving yourself a breather and upon killing the enemy health. Once over your posited back surrounded by enemies.
The game has an obsession with blocking that wasn't as pronounced during the first game, from the enemies to yourself your constantly shown that blocking is key in this game. Your faced against opponents who cannot be harmed with the force, opponents that cannot be harmed in melee, opponents whose attacks you must reflect back at them, and opponents who carry around a shield that must be removed blocking is essential in this game and unfortunately that seems to be all your lightsabers are really good at.
All of the force powers from the previous game have made the jump over unfortunately they only added one new power which is the jedi mind trick. The mind trick becomes more and more useful the more it's upgraded unfortunately all the upgraded is strictly linear this time around. You are only able to upgrade your force powers this time around and that is limited to a fairly linear path. Each force power has two upgrades the first slot is granted once you are able to use the power, each slot upgrades the effectiveness of the power mostly concerning how many enemies the power effects. The holocron hunting that everyone loved in the last game has returned, you searched all over the levels for the hidden holocrons. Sadly this time around they are all laid out in front of you on the linear path that you have to walk. No hard to reach places or searching for this this time around the most you'll have to do for one is generally jump. You can of course enhance your health and force bar but those are restricted to holocrons you find around levels dedicated to either of the two.
The lightsaber problem is still present in this game where your force powers are so over the top and ridiculous that there is no reason for you to use it. Even with their use of lightsaber damage on enemies it is only really noticeable on stormtroopers because you have to use your powers on everything else to live.
They have added in challenges which you'll unlock by playing through the story, these are pretty basic however. They are all generally time based trials, involving retrieving objects and bringing them back to the beginning and fighting for as long as possible the usual pretty generic challenges, the only reason you'll play through them are because of the achievements tied to completing them. All the stuff situated in the extra menu are things for the most part you would have unlocked in the campaign, I say for the most part because even completing the campaign on unleashed (the highest difficulty) there are still parts locked out. This is due in part thanks to the challenge mode, to unlock extra cut scenes, concept art, costumes, and saber crystals you must play through and finish the challenges.
The fact that lucasarts has seemingly cut the team and canceled The Force Unleashed 3 project as far as we know, is a very bad sign given the ending of the game. The ending is the basic choose light side or dark side choice. The light side choice which I assume is their "canonical" choice puts all doubt aside that this is canon in the universe. The dark side choice, well you have to watch it for yourself it's far and away a better ending to the game but by no means does it excuse the whole of the story.
Should I buy this?
At best I would recommend renting this game if you really enjoyed the original force unleashed or love star wars games in general It's by no means the worst star wars game around. It however shouldn't be placed among Knights of the Old Republic or Battlefront. If you enjoyed the original go back and play the game again or rent this, it's at the very least worth the twenty dollars should this ever go onto platinum hits.