I hate to say it, but The Force Unleashed II is a disappointment. And this is coming from someone who loved the first game and preached its greatness to everyone who didn’t try it. The first game was a solid action title with amazing physics and interaction with the environment, but what set it apart from other games in the genre was a great Star Wars story. The official, canon, explanation of just how the Rebel Alliance was formed was one of the best Star Wars stories told in more than twenty years. Unfortunately while the sequel improves on some gameplay problems from the first game, it comes at the expense of the story and it leaves The Force Unleashed feeling flat and uninspiring.
The game follows the Light Side ending of the first game, which is the officially recognized canon ending as it leads to the formation of the Rebellion with the Alliance using Starkiller’s family crest as their emblem in honor of his death. The sequel picks up on Kamino where Vader is explaining to Starkiller how he’s just a clone and one of many attempts. Starkiller zaps Vader with his Force Lightning and escapes. Thus begins a sequel with so much unrealized potential.
In terms of gameplay, the sequel is both a positive and a negative. The controls and combos have been tightened up in comparison to the first game. Things such as using Force Grip are much less floaty this time around, and overall the controls are much more responsive. This is a trade off, however, with a lack of depth in comparison to the first game. In the original, you were able to upgrade your combos in addition to stats and Force powers as you went through the game. Here, you can just upgrade each Force power three times and there are no combo unlocks or stat increases outside of green or blue holocrons you can pick up to expand your life and Force bars.
This simplification may have to do with the game’s length as it’s painfully short when compared to the first one. While the original Force Unleashed could be faulted for re-using planets (you’d revisited a them throughout the course of the game), it was at least longer than this one. Here you start on Kamino, head to Cato Neimoidia for an awesome Gorog fight, make a meaningless stopover at Dagobah just to say hi to Yoda and leave, fly back to Kamino on a Republic Frigate, and then crash the ship on Kamino and fight Vader. That’s it. It’s over before you know it.
This would be fine if it doesn’t feel like the developers just ran out of time at the end and turned the final fight with Vader into a repetitive grind that takes way too long to get through. It’s like they wanted to make the last level just a bit longer, but they had no time and decided to prolong the final fight to the point where some players will just get bored with it and not even bother finishing the game. This is in contrast to the jaw dropping Gorog fight earlier in the game. While that battle was very long, each phase of it was different so as you went through the fight you never felt bored or felt like you were just grinding his life bar down. The Vader encounter is a travesty.
And the story is just empty. There’s none of the depth, excitement, fanservice (sorry, the Boba Fett and Yoda mini-cameos don’t count), or even Star Wars “feel” that the original had. It just falls flat. There’s really no point to the whole thing at all, and when it ends you don’t feel satisfied at all. At the end of the original, the Light Side ending really felt like the end to a great Star Wars movie and the Dark Side one was a Sith fanboy’s dream. Here, the happy sappy Light Side ending does nothing but leave open a sequel where Boba Fett may have a part to play while the Dark Side ending makes you think The Force Unleashed III will just be a rehash of the first game. Lets hope Lucasarts leaves the franchise at this, as without Haden Blackman onboard; I don’t want to see where the story will spiral next.
What’s good about The Force Unleashed II? Well the graphics have received a nice overhaul in the last two years. It’s a much cleaner looking game with more detailed character modeled and less muddy texture work. And as I said before, the gameplay has some minor improvements that makes it less frustrating to play at times.
It’s really hard to believe that the best Star Wars game in years has been followed up with such a disappointing sequel. The Force Unleashed II could’ve been another classic, but in the end it just feels like a hollow franchise cash grab that stomps on the excellent story the original game had.
Final Score: 3 out of 5
Some gameplay improvements, mostly in controls.
Much less depth than the original.
Way too short.
Unbelievably repetitive final boss battle.