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Published on August 26th, 2010 | by prime

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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 – Hands On

Starkiller is back! Or is he? That’s the central theme behind LucasArts’ perplexing and promising second Force Unleashed. The universe’s most powerful – yet under-appreciated – Jedi seeks not only his former love interest in Juno Eclipse, but an answer to the eternal question: who or what am I? Surprisingly heavy for a Star Wars game, this sequel is meaner, more ambitious and unashamedly fun.

The universe’s most under-appreciated Jedi returns, angrier than ever

Gameplay is still based on third-person combat, but the lightsabers seem more like the sharp implements they should this time around, with the ability to slice off Stormtrooper limbs or propel legions of troops into the distance with the multi-purpose Force push.

The franchise has always won plenty of column inches, not just because it uses George Luca’s license, but because the original game was such a fanboys’ wet dream, successfully placing the gamer into the intergalactic space opera, yet making gamers feel like the baddest mother force wielder to ever grasp a lightsaber. It’s a feeling the sequel will perpetuate with two new devastating Force powers – the all-purpose Mind Trick which can stimulate enemies to attack one another or Force Fury, which amps up all the existing powers exponentially, enabling Lightning to completely evaporate enemies and Repulse to disintegrate any foe caught in close proximity. This charged-up state only lasts a matter of moments and builds up slowly, nevertheless it’s fantastic to see in motion.

The curtain opens with Vader standing ominously over a shackled Starkiller, making him aware of his artificial roots and before testing his assassin abilities by slaying legions of holographically enhanced robots depicting figures from his past. But there is one representation which the tortured shell cannot eradicate, Juno Eclipse. Haunted by fragmented memories of a life he may or may not have had, the Starkiller escapes the planet in hope of finding himself – with Vader’s forces in tow. All you spoiler haters out there needn’t worry, as all this action takes place during the first level of the game. For the rest of the campaign, expect a mixture of new faces with some fan favorites to steal the show.

The developers have been extremely loose-lipped on the occurrence of some characters, but our discussions with the game’s Assistant Producer alluded that to the fact that ‘there’s more to the game than you might think’. If you hadn’t guessed by now, much like the original, Force Unleashed II is an intense story-driven experience with only a challenge mode distracting players from the campaign. These standalone scenarios will all be time-based and require mastering the various jump-combat-and Force-related puzzles. On completion, various rewards will be dispensed including new outfits, different colored crystals for your respective lightsabers and an unlockable side story will tell an additional plot-line to the campaign. There’s plenty of tasty fiction morsels for Star Wars fans to feast upon.

Wisely, instead of trying to rebuild the entire game from the ground up, LucasArts have elected to change what didn’t work about the original and leave the rest enhanced with a new lick of polish, producing a game experience which feels assuredly familiar.

The unreliable finisher camera is gone, replaced with a grapple cam, which gets up close and personal when players execute more vicious attacks. Also the AI and enemy design is considerably more imaginative, producing increasingly varied enemy types and challenging tactics.

Some may be disappointed by a lack of other features common in the genre, such as online play or co-op but frankly, to do so would be missing the point. This is about filling in the blanks between Episodes III and IV, with a finely crafted story which aspires to be just as entertaining as the movies. A lofty goal to be sure, but one the team are well on their way to accomplishing.

If Star Wars: The Force Unleashed knocked your socks off, then you really haven’t seen anything yet.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II – Cinematic Trailer

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