A new chapter in the Starkiller saga, does it live up to the hype?
The first Force Unleashed game did not get very good reviews, and I almost didn't play it. I'm glad I gave it a chance though. It turned out to be one of my favorite Star Wars games. I'm really not sure what it is about these games that some of the mainstream press doesn't like but I've heard some mixed reviews of the sequel already.
If you've played the first game, you already know how this works. You are Starkiller (or are you his clone?), and you can smack down waves of stormtroopers with your lightsabers (yes, you are dual wielding now) blast enemies out of the sky with force lightning, push them off the side of a bridge, or, new to the sequel, Jedi mind trick them into attacking their friends or committing suicide. You can link all these talents together to produce some awesome combos. They really got the combat right with this, it is great fun to take on waves of enemies.
The baddies themselves are a little less varied than the first game, but there's more than enough here to keep you busy. Stormtroopers are your basic fodder, they are trivially easy to destroy even in large numbers which helps you pull off some cool looking moves. There are also riot troopers who can block your lightsaber attacks, but are vulnerable to force powers. Sith acolytes are strong force users who can block your force powers but are vulnerable to you saber attacks. When the level designers throw a pack of both Riot troopers and Sith acolytes at you at the same time, things finally get interesting. Add in a lumbering shielded droid that shoots carbonite into the mix, and you will be really tested.
The first Force Unleashed was a decent looking game, but it pales in comparison to the Force Unleashed II. The textures on all the enemies are much improved and the in-game cut-scenes look incredible. There are occasional pre-rendered cut scenes too, they look incredible of course. Technically, everything has been upgraded from the first game, the loading times are much improved and the menus are much simpler and easier to use. The music is exactly what you'd expect in a Star Wars game, featuring your favorites you know and love.
The game is not overly long, but it's not too short either. My first playthrough (on normal difficulty) lasted about 7 hours.
The story was one of the strongest points of the original game. I still say I like it better than any of the movie prequels. Given the ending in the original it's understandable that the story suffers a bit now as there are a few contrivances (are you or aren't you a clone?) but it still holds up pretty well. Lucasarts did leave room for another sequel with the ending this time, I guess they learned that lesson, but it does cost this story a little bit. Overall, I still enjoyed it quite a bit more than any of the prequel movies, so if your a Star Wars fan, this alone should be a selling point.
The only negative things I can really say about Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II are that the cut scenes are not skippable and the game doesn't have much replayability unless you either like going through a second time to get a different ending or to try a higher difficulty.
Verdict: Buy it.