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Review: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

Steve Butts | 29 Oct 2010 18:35
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Even within the enemies, the variety leaves a bit to be desired. Despite the cosmetic differences, there are three kinds of enemies in The Force Unleashed II: ones that have to be killed using your lightsaber, ones that have to be killed using The Force, and ones that have to be killed using Quick-Time Events. Once you realize that, getting through each wave of enemies is almost too easy and monotonous. Just spam the same attacks against the appropriate enemies, and you're golden. Sure, there are some finer points here - like the mind control tricks, or the enemies who have to be stunned with a successful block - but for the most part, combat is about choosing which of two buttons to mash.

The game's few set piece boss battles are definitely dramatic. The first one, in particular, takes place on an incredibly massive scale. This is truly one of those "Oh, crap!" moments that leaves you amazed at what's possible in this medium. But while the spectacle is there, the tactics are not. Solutions to the game's boss fights are heavily scripted and rely so much on Quick-Time Events, that you really don't feel as if you're making interesting choices about the way you interact with the game. It's just finding the one attack that triggers the QTE and then lather-rinse-repeat. In the case of the first boss, this process can take a full ten minutes as you move from one stage of the fight to the next. By the end, things have built to an absolutely insane climax, but in sustaining that level of intensity, the fight actually wears out its welcome and ruins the otherwise astonishing finale.

I played the game on the PC and had quite a few performance problems, even with a rig that met the game's recommended requirements. You can see from our video supplement the overall quality of the visuals balanced against the framerate. It's possible to increase the resolution, both of the screen itself and the textures, but there's noticeable slowdown on the higher settings, and a fair bit of tearing even in the cutscenes. This is particularly strange since the gameplay seems to be capped at 30fps.

Finally, I'm officially sick of double lightsabers. They were cool at the start precisely because they were exceptional, but now everyone and his brother has to have them. It's just too much. The very ubiquity of it destroys any impact that it might have had back when Darth Maul made them popular. I think it was Don Knotts who once said, if you faint funny one time, next time you'll have to do it even funnier, and eventually it will just turn into a caricature. Now we're at a point where every single Jedi has to have two lightsabers just to stay ahead of the curve. I think it's time we took a stand and forced LucasArts to bring it back down.

Bottom Line: The parts are all in place, but the magic just isn't there. Repetitive combat and a mediocre story get in the way of the game's other strengths. Go play Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast instead. It may be eight years old but it's still better at being what The Force Unleashed is trying to be.

Recommendation: This one is good for a rental at best, but only if you're so in love with Star Wars that you can see past its faults.

This review is based on the PC version of the game.

Steve Butts has only ever needed one lightsaber.

Game: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
Genre: Action
Developer: LucasArts
Publisher: LucasArts
Release Date: October 26th, 2010
Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Wii
Available from: Amazon

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