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January 6, 2011

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Review: Force Unleashed II

Posted by on Jan 6, 2011

Okay, so, if you know me, you know how much I detest sequels made for the sole point of making a little more money. However (and I suspect this is why they do it), when I play a game or watch a movie that I really really enjoy I am quite likely to go play or watch the next one when it comes out. I hope it will be a little bit better than the first in some way, or at least not be completely terrible. There are lots of examples of this: Gears of War 2 is better than Gears 1, Halo has only gotten better with sequels, etc.

All of this brings me to The Force Unleashed 2, which I just finished today. This might be the largest stinking pile of crap released as a sequel in recent history. Of course I shouldn’t be surprised since it’s got something to do with George Lucas, who is renowned for being a jackass with his intellectual property. To prevent me from raging incoherently about this game, I’m going to write a list of four things that are wrong with it. I’m also not going to try and keep the storyline a secret (hint: there isn’t much to miss anyway), but if you haven’t played Force Unleashed 1, you may want to skip this one.

1. No New Abilities

Force Unleashed 1 was cool because you got to be a Jedi (and lets be real, that’s all anyone wants to do in a Star Wars game), and you learned the skills as you went. All of the cool abilities were there, and you could go around like the most badass motherf**ker ever, hurling lightsabers, electrifying stormtroopers, throwing and pushing people off cliffs. It was pure unadulterated fun, and easy as well, courtesy of the clever control scheme. Given that, I picked up the sequel thinking there would be new skills to learn, and consequently new and exciting ways to kill hapless stormtroopers. But there weren’t. Force Unleashed 2 has exactly the same skills as before – and you don’t even have to learn them as you go, you basically get them at the beginning of the game – so, rather than feeling badass, you feel kind of lame and overpowered. You might ask how they explain all your abilities, and that brings me to the next point.

2. The Story Blows

In Force Unleashed 1 you were Vader’s pet sith apprentice, training to destroy the Jedi, but you turn against him and join the Alliance and then try to kill him at the end and maybe die (no one knows). In the sequel, you wake up as a clone of yourself that Vader has created as a new apprentice. The source of dramatic tension: whether or not you’re actually a clone. It’s lame.

You run away to re-find your lovely wench Juno, only to have her stolen away by Hitler (oops, Vader, same thing right?), so you traipse after them to get her back. There’s some kind of storyline about the urgency of destroying Vader’s clone army at this point, but it’s never particularly prominent. Then you fight Vader and rescue Juno.

Seem short? It is. There are approximately 6 levels in this game, most of which are “Get to the other end of the ship, watch out for random enemies”. Once you finish those 6 levels, you reach the end of the game, which brings me to my next point.

3. There Isn’t An Ending

At the end of the last level, which is a tedious exercise in killing Vader (he literally does no damage to you, but you don’t do much to him so it takes about 45 minutes), you get to make a choice: kill him, or take him prisoner to sit trial for his crimes. This choice is characterized as a choice between the  Dark Side and the Light Side, so I’m thinking “sweet, I’ve made it to the midpoint, now I get to choose a side, and I get cool new powers and the story is different. This is cool”. I picked Light for what it’s worth.

Instead of awesomeness, you get a series of cut scenes: Juno’s alive, Vader’s captured, and Vader still thinks he owns you as long as Juno’s alive. THEN THE GAME ENDS! WTF!?!? The credits came up and I was seriously confused. I’m still confused.

4. It Ruins Force Unleashed 1

I really enjoyed the first Force Unleashed game – it’s the reason I went and bought the second one. The problem is that the second one has ruined the franchise for me. There’s slim to no chance I’m going to buy a third iteration, even if it’s purportedly better. When I think of Force Unleashed now, the three points above this one are what come to mind, not the good fun I had before the sequel came along. It’s really disappointing that it’s such a bad game, because it reflects poorly on the whole franchise, and the first one is legitimately good.

  • So, I felt there should be a clarification here about the game’s length: there aren’t just approximately six total levels – there are six total HOURS of game play. This is absolutely unforgivable. I rented the game from Blockbuster, so luckily I only paid about $1.50 per hour of game play, but what if I had actually shelled out the cash and paid $60 for this game? That would mean I paid $10 for each hour of the game. I’m sorry, but in a time when games usually take at least a week to beat, and that’s if you basically do nothing else that week, this is just total horseshit.