Monday, 08 November 2010 00:00
STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED II is a game that's bound to drive the die hard fans insane. It just begs for endless debate. "Who is this mysterious apprentice?" "Why was he never mentioned in the movies?" "Why the hell is he so strong?" "Could they not have picked a better name than Starkiller?" It's true, his name does make him sound like a burlesque dancer. In a world of Luke's, Yoda's, Padame's and Anakin's, Starkiller comes off as pretty lazy. Oh, he's the killer of stars and presumably planets. Subtle.
Rating 3.5/5 | Image Gallery
If you can get over his ridiculous name, the way that his existence doesn't really fit in with the films, and the fact that he looks like a lazy create-a-character from a fighting game, Starkiller's not that bad of a guy. This isn't a grand, story driven STAR WARS game that takes canon too seriously. It's a beat'em up like DEVIL MAY CRY with lightsabers. That's all it is and it's good if you can accept that.
There's a little story to keep things moving along, but it's not much more in depth than "Mario needs to save the Princess." In this case, Starkiller is Mario and some woman by the name of Juno is the Princess. At the beginning of the game, the maniacal Darth Vader (Bowser) has Starkiller prisoner on some depressing planet. He starts prattling on about how Starkilller is a clone of the original and that he needs to do his bidding. Starkiller's not too into that, so he takes off. In an effort to make Starkiller more willing to cooperate, Vader snatches up Starkiller's love interest, Juno. This of course leads to Starkiller trailing Vader from level to level. The game doesn't culminate in a lava filled castle, but it's close enough. There's plenty of lightning.
Saving a princess has worked for countless classic games. The reason being they were fun games with some solid visuals. That's exactly why this light story works. There are times when this game is visually astounding. Whenever you're in a rain filled level, it literally looks like the wet dream of a STAR WARS fan. That's right, it looks like Princess Leia in a golden bikini and a naughty Twi'lek. There aren't a ton of bosses, but the ones who are there look the part. One is about the size of a building and makes a Rancor look like a pussy-cat. In fact, it uses one as a toothpick or something like that.
The gameplay is your typical beat'em up affair, but the key difference is that it's STAR WARS. Instead of some random sword, you're swinging around dual lightsabers. You can zap your foes with force lightning, push them back with a little force push action, or play a mind trick on them. Not the Criss Angel kind, mind you. There's a slight role-playing element to the game as you're able to level-up your lightsaber effectiveness, force lightning and so forth, but it's nothing intricate. You can only level-up each ability to level three. It's hard to max out each ability in one play-through, so you may as well level up the abilities that you're going to use often unless you plan on playing through the game a few more times.
There's a decent amount of enemies to take out and most of them are particularly susceptible to a certain strategy, so it's fun to experiment. Even on the normal (medium) difficulty, the game's no slouch. You have to be on your toes or you're going down faster than Jar Jar Binks in a kissing contest. You see, because Jar Jar Binks sucks and nobody wants to kiss him. If you're the type of gamer that revels in a challenge, unleashed (very hard) is going to be your best friend, and at times, your worst enemy. It's almost mind boggling how you die sometimes. Here you are, a guy that can shoot lightning out of your fingertips, and you're being taken down by a silly robotic spider.
The story mode is pretty fun, but no matter what the difficulty, Darth Vader is an absolute push-over if there ever was one. It's like the creators of the game always thought that Vader was pretty overrated and this was their chance to publicly voice that opinion. Maybe this will be interpreted as a spoiler, but really, who the hell did you think the last boss was going to be in this game, a reincarnated Darth Maul? The setting of the last battle with Vader is beautiful, but that's about all it is. Bosses should never be impossible, but they should always be somewhat difficult. There's a reason that people love this generation's NINJA GAIDEN games. They're hard as hell, but when you finally beat the boss, you get that feeling that you used to get in the 8 and 16-bit era. It's a feeling of accomplishment. Beating Darth Vader in this game is the equivalent of beating the crap out of an Ewok. You really shouldn't feel like that big of a man.
Outside of the story mode are challenges. For example, you'll be timed on how long it takes you to make it from one side of the level to the other, or how quickly you can fight your way through a variety of enemies. They sound simple in concept, but can prove difficult in execution. You receive a rating for how you did on the challenge and based on it, you unlock things like costumes and lightsaber crystals. You can post your score in a challenge online, and you're even told how you stack up against people on your friends list. It's probably not the in-depth online multiplayer action that some may have wanted, but it's a cool feature nonetheless.
Voice acting wise, there's a lot of yelling. Whoever voiced Starkiller knows how to pull off being an angry man. The man is pissed off and he's not bashful about it. "I'm going to kill you!" "ARGGGH!" That's what Starkiller has to say. The rest of the voice acting is quite good, but Starkiller's fits really stand out more than anything. James Earl Jones doesn't voice Darth Vader, which is a damn shame, but the guy who does isn't bad. It's not like he has an awkwardly high pitch to his voice or anything. Seeing as though the creators of this game hate Darth Vader so much, it's almost surprising that they didn't go down that route. Helium Vader could have really hurt his image more so than being the world's slowest lightsaber dualist. Even his force lightning sucked for Christ's sake.
Worse things have happened to the STAR WARS series than THE FORCE UNLEASHED II. OBI-WAN on the XBOX, for example. It seems like STAR WARS games always have to be focussed on one thing in particular. You're either flying a ship or cutting through Stormtroopers with a lightsaber. You couldn't possibly do both. You know, like in the movies. That would just be ridiculous. It's hard not to think that one of the most renown movie series of all time could have better games based on it. Doing too much of the same thing gets dull. This game is no exception to the rule. For what it is, a STAR WARS themed beat'em up with anger to spare, it's worth killing some time (stars) with, especially if you're a fan.