I’ve decided to take a break from my recent run of new releases and knock out a few old Xbox 360 games I’ve been meaning to play.  First up on the list, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II.  I played through the first one multiple times because I enjoyed it so much.  Unfortunately, the sequel is incredibly short and underwhelming.  This is not the game you’re looking for.

This Storm Trooper nailed where this game lands — flat on it’s back

  • TL;DR: A game that manages to make you feel underpowered as a Jedi, somehow
  • Platform: Xbox 360
  • Score: 4.5
  • Hours Played: 5
  • What I Played: Campaign on medium difficulty
  • Recommended: Nope

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II starts off with the classic scrolling text to bring us up to speed on the story.  Starkiller, a child who Darth Vader took under his wing as an apprentice and rebelled against him, was killed in the canonical ending of the original TFU, although I liked the “Dark Side” choice better myself.  In TFU2, you control a clone of Starkiller created by Vader.  As a clone, you are haunted by memories of the original Starkiller.  After failing to prove yourself worth and learning the fate of clones before you, Vader is ready to cast you aside, but you rage out and run away in hopes to find the rest of the Rebel Alliance.

TFU2 is a typical hack-and-slash game, except that you have lightsabers.  Two, actually.  Starkiller also has access to the Force (duh) and lightning, which can be integrated with melee combos for some decent variety.  The only new skills in the game are Mind Trick, which confuses enemies into fighting for you for a short time, and Force Fury, a slowly recharging gauge which allows you to hulk out and actually feel powerful.  While you have to earn almost all of your skills and abilities through the original TFU, you start with a lot of them in TFU2.  It’s pretty impressive to actually feel underpowered as a Jedi, but LucasArts has made it possible.

By the time you finish reading this article, you could have finished like 20% of the game.

Maybe it’s the game’s length that forces Starkiller to start with so much power.  In my playthrough, the entire game took me five hours to complete.  I was taking my time and looking for collectibles, too.  One of the only things I’m happy about is that I was able to pick up TFU2 for $10.  The story truly suffers from this embarrassingly short game — as soon as it starts to get interesting, it’s over.  It’s almost as if the developers had plans to make a larger scale game, but were forced to cut out 50% of it out.

That’s not to say the game is all bad, though.  The graphics are still pretty good for a game that was released over three years ago.  A lot of the world is destructible, turning almost anything into a possible lift-and-throw object for Starkiller.  One upgrade from the first game is the addition of dismemberment.  It is pretty satisfying to be wailing on a Storm Trooper and watch his arms/legs fly off.  Also, the scale of fights can be very impressive.  Snatching a TIE fighter out of the air as it flies by, crumpling it into a ball like it’s made of paper, and throwing it into other oncoming fighters is definitely fun.  Quick time events make a return in TFU2, although the number of elite enemies that require them is down to about four.  I actually liked the quick time events in the original game, so I’m sad to see so few here.

Stop the missiles, throw them back, I know the routine

The types of enemies are very unimaginative in TFU2.  Some can only be hurt by lightning, some by lightsaber, etc., but the different types of enemies sums to about 10.  It’s sad that in such a deep world like Star Wars, we only see such a small slice.  There are glimmers of big name characters, like Yoda and Bobba Fett, but each is seen for 30 seconds, if that.

Voice acting is … peculiar, at best.  It feels like full scenes weren’t even recorded at the same time, with characters drastically changing their tone between sentences.  The absolute worst instance of poor voice acting in TFU2 is the final boss fight.  I won’t spoil what happens, but it goes on for about 10-15 minutes and there are maybe five lines of dialogue that get repeated over and over.

Storm Troopers still can’t hit for shit, either.

All in all, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is a short-lived experience with only a few enemy types, skills to upgrade, and environments to see.  The story is passable but cut short as soon as it starts to get good.  It holds up visually for being so old, but I see no replay value unless you are a truly a machine of an achievement hunter.  Even if you really enjoyed the first game like I did, don’t waste your time here.

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