Preview

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II Preview (PS3)

The original Force Unleashed, whilst considered a bit unnecessary by some (in the sense that it seemed to be just trying to cram more back-story into the gap between the two trilogies), was never the less a fairly decent title and ended up selling over 7 million copies world-wide. Considering that LucasArts has been playing up the kids angle lately, this darker, grittier, force-punch-to-the-face tale of Starkiller was actually quite refreshing. It wasn't perfect and garnered mixed reviews from the critics, but we've seen far worse.

Hey, what's up?
Now Starkiller (or one of his clones, we can't really tell) is back, and this time everything is on a much larger scale. Much like Jurassic Park III tried to do with its introduction of the Spinosaurus as a 'bigger' bad next to the T-Rex, Force Unleashed II's reveal trailer did the same with an even bigger monster than the Rancor. This highlights the team's objective to give bigger, more epic (but fewer) boss battles in true Star Wars fashion. The same ethos also applies to general enemies as well, with fewer but more 'special' types being pitted against you.

Gameplay feels pretty similar to the first game but many of the technical glitches and control frustrations the original had have been ironed out. There's still the delicate but masterful blend of three separate physics engines, still that sense of God of War/Star Wars -hybrid style, and still that sheer brute awesomesauce as you just let her rip. A more 'refined' experience is what we think the team (who by and large is the same who worked on the first one) is going for here. There will be more of the same, but more finely tuned and a few new additions and some extra variety to keep things interesting. There's realistic delimbing (although you can't cut bad guys into chunks as Lucas wants to remain a little bit tasteful), new force powers like mind-control, and even a 'Force-fury' mode which basically just turns everything up to 11.

The level structure should be more diverse as well. During the demo we played we were shown something they called a 'run for your life' segment, which does pretty much what it says on the tin. To give this segment an official sounding title suggests that there will be more of them (and this makes sense, because what story details there are so far suggest that Starkiller spends a lot of his time on the run). These segments are less about fighting, more about running, and more to do with reflexes. There's supposed to be more puzzles solving, and possible other differing types of level as well.

Again, this game will pretty much be a single-player outing although the Nintendo Wii version is reported to have a form of competitive multi-player for up to four players. This means though that it will need to rely on the story and the gameplay to carry it. From what we've played so far, the frustrating control system seems to have been improved and made easier to use, and with the same writer on the story who worked on the first one, well... we guess it depends on how much you liked the first one.
 
The bonus package must be good for them to face this day after day...
The Star Wars license spans multiple generations, multiple media, and multiple demographics. At the moment, LucasArts seems to be focusing on games for younger audiences (apart from notable exceptions like The Old Republic), but it's good to see these more adult tales being told. With a franchise this big, you can't please everyone, but we think this is going to turn out to be another good game. May not be the best ever, but one of those "worth a play through" titles. The Force Unleashed II is due out on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on October 26th in North America and October 29th in Europe.

Most Anticipated Feature: Those moments where, in the middle of throwing lightsabers and force lighting here there and everywhere, something at the back of your mind is going "aww yeah" rather contently.

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