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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II super review

AT A GLANCE
  • Dazzling visuals
  • Much improved controls
  • Skydiving combat!
  • Only get to visit a few places
  • Overall campaign is short
  • Doesn't innovate or add a lot of new stuff


Other improvements

What the hell was up with the checkpoint system in TFU? It was atrocious – at one point, the game actually took us back to before a boss battle. It’s possible that there are some cruddy checkpoints in TFU II, but we didn’t encounter them. The checkpoints we did encounter were entirely reasonable, but we also didn’t encounter them as often: TFU II doesn’t kill you as much as the first game, and especially doesn’t often kill you for bullshit reasons (we recall dying instantly in TFU with no discernable cause).


Above: The platforming still isn't great, but it's not horrible either. Pulling off air-dashes to cross this chasm is pretty satisfying

The enemy AI has been vastly improved – it’s too bad this only brings it up to “acceptable” because the vast improvement is in comparison to the absolutely embarrassing AI in the first game. If you don’t remember, you might have seen stormtroopers completely ignoring you when you were right next to them, or enemies diving off bridges, or even bosses that got stuck trying to figure out how to get to you.

Speaking of bosses, TFU II dumps the tedious Jedi battles and offers more interesting encounters that we won’t spoil here. We will say, though, that one boss in particular has multiple stages, with each getting cooler than the last. Although the first part of the boss is kind of annoying, the subsequent sequences more than make up for it.


Above: This is not the mega-epic boss. That other boss is bigger than this

Finally, there are the two new powers. TFU II swaps out of the Lightning Shield power for Mind Trick. The Lightning Shield was kind of cool in the first game, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Mind Trick. Now you have the hilarious option of getting enemies to fight each other or even dive right out through windows. The dialogue alone is worth it: Starkiller offers different quips to convince enemies to go against their will, and the enemy responses get quite amusing. The other addition is Force Fury, which is really an uninspired afterthought. It’s just your standard “rage” meter that gets built up and once activated turns on hyper mode. We actually barely bothered to use it. Still, seeing Starkiller continuously toss two whirling lightsabers is pretty cool.


And yet…

Not everything in The Force Unleashed II is hunky-dory. All of the above tweaks take the clunky weak points of the original and smooth them over or trade them for something more fun. At the same time, that’s what they are: small tweaks. Other than the Mind Trick power, not much has changed for toys to play with, especially since the dual lightsabers don’t do anything other than look cool, at least in the middle of combat.


Above: Now why does this place look familiar? Hmm...

The backdrops to the action are mostly less imaginative than the first game. Cato Nemoidia is gorgeous, but other than that, there isn’t much to match the majestic vistas of Kashyyyk or the ultra-alien flora of that world with the war-painted rancors. So we just don’t see as much of the fantastic Star Wars universe, and unfortunately it seems we spend less time there. We didn’t get an exact time on our playthrough, but TFU II feels slightly shorter than the first game, and the original was already a short game. This becomes a sticking point to carefully consider – did the length of the first game leave you feeling unsatisfied? We didn’t have much of an issue with either game’s length – but then if you only buy one game a month or whatever, it could matter quite a lot. The game does offer challenge modes, but they’re also short and frankly not much fun.


Is it better than…?

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed? Yes. We realize we explained all of this already, but it is definitive that TFU II is a superior game. It plays better and looks better. Its story holds up to the quality of the original, and builds upon the relationships established earlier, deepening the complexities and raising new questions. Most importantly, the game is more fun.

 

 

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow? No. Castlevania is more hardcore, which could make TFU II more appealing to those just wanting fun combat and epic boss battles, but it’s hard to argue with Castlevania’s deeper combat, more imaginative world, and generous length. TFU II’s story is more interesting, though.


 

Enslaved: Odyssey to the West? No, but it’s close. Both are story-driven action games. TFU II looks and plays with more confident polish and its story fits perfectly into a ridiculously deep universe (which isn’t easy to do, we might add). Enslaved, however, also does a take on an existing story (Journey to the West) but goes in a wholly original direction. Its world isn’t like anything we’ve seen before and its characters are downright amazing in their human emotions and nuanced interactions. We have to give the slight edge to Enslaved for being more daring, whereas TFU II plays it safe.


 

Just for you, Metacritic!

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II takes nearly every complaint we had about the original and fixes it or gives us something better. We finally feel like a proper, force-wielding one-man army. It’s still short and doesn’t take us on a truly grand tour of the Star Wars universe, but the storytelling holds up in quality and fits right in to the existing mythology.

Oct 26, 2010

More Info

Release date: Oct 26 2010 - PS3 (US)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Genre: Action
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Violence
PEGI Rating:
Rating Pending

39 comments

  • Shinn - December 24, 2010 9:39 a.m.

    I just finished the game, and I have to say good on you Matthew Keast. This game is completely deserving of its 8/10 rating. People these days are so spoiled by spectacular games that they can't appreciate a great game.
  • Shinn - December 19, 2010 8:48 a.m.

    I know i'm a little late to the party, but it really amuses me when peopl like Joshin from the second comment complain about the universe without actually knowing it. The type of powers the Sith can use depends on their affinity with the force. One may not be adept at using the dark side to cast lightening, but they may be able to carry out complex Sith sorcery. Vader can't cast lightening because that's not one of his strengths. Read the Bane novels.
  • sverre-sand - April 28, 2014 7:07 p.m.

    Wait... was it it not beacause most of his body is cybernetics which would mean that if he uses force lighting anyhow it would backfire?
  • conjabro - December 11, 2010 5:43 a.m.

    Osh i was just lookn at starwars the force unleashed 1 and theres a 2?? hahah epik cant wait to play it i bet its a 10/10.
  • metalgatesolid - November 1, 2010 9:54 p.m.

    How about a star wars game where your a baddie plain and simple?? The star Wars universe has always had better villians than goodies.
  • Embolado - November 1, 2010 5:08 p.m.

    If Vadars hands are the reason he can not do lightning then why does he use them when he does the force choke?
  • yonderTheGreat - October 28, 2010 10:24 p.m.

    "I'm very disappointed with Mr Lucas for how in recent years he has allowed the Story and the universe to be twisted and in places torn for financial gain but then i guess i should not be surprised." Sorry man but... Star Wars has *always* been about financial gain. Don't get me wrong... I'm not saying you're one of the people who had a problem with all the merchandising of Ep1 thru Ep3... but I think you ARE looking at the past thru unclear glasses ;) Looking fwd to the game. I'll rent it first and play the heck out of it for a day or two and then probably buy it for 20 bucks a few months later.
  • sharonbender - October 28, 2010 3:51 a.m.

    my husband plays xbox, it would be nice if you could intergrate knight of the old republic with the moves from this game, this game is great but too short i brought it yesturday and have already beat it. thank you for makeing such an adictting game
  • APIce - October 28, 2010 1:08 a.m.

    Don't know why some of these sites are badmouthing this game, some even saying the first one was better?? Wtf??!! Sure, the combat system isn't very deep--especially compared to games like Bayonetta, Devil May Cry, or even God of War (which both FU games obviously take a cue from with their QTE finishing moves)--but I still enjoyed it very much. I mean come on, throwing enemies off bridges or into objects NEVER gets old! Those other sites also complain about the length of the game, but let's be honest here, your typical single player action/adventure game these days can be plowed through in a day or two even if you're a somewhat inexperienced gamer--mainly due to the fact that developers invest so much of of their time on the online/multiplayer aspects that the single player experience suffers. But I digress, the score that this site has given is dead on....not the 6's that I have been seeing. Thank you GamesRadar, and shame on you other sites that aren't giving this game it's due!
  • Darth Slayer - October 27, 2010 4:55 p.m.

    @ Joshin69 Actually the reason Vader can not wield Force Lightning is because he has no flesh from the elbows down on his arms. Force Lightning needs to be shot out of the fingertips to work. This was actually explained briefly in the novelization of Episode III. It has nothing to do with depth in the dark side. Just on whether you have a prosthetic limb or natural limb.
  • TruckThunders - October 27, 2010 1:30 p.m.

    Interesting review. Seems a little more favorable than others reviews I've read, but I know not everyone will think about one game the same way. I know the games looks great and allows a lot of creativity with the force powers, but I have such a strong affection for the Jedi Knight games that I find this series to be too over-the-top. I know that's what it's trying to do, but personally I still prefer the older games. Good review though. I just wanted to leave a comment (because you guys always say "Please leave comments" on the podcast.
  • AquaPimp82 - October 27, 2010 11:57 a.m.

    @Joshin69 Vader can't use force lightning because he lost both of his hands/arms. It's something about not being able to channel the lightning through a robotic prosthetic.
  • The_Tingler - October 27, 2010 2:06 a.m.

    This review contradicts a lot of other reviews I've read, especially regarding the quality of the storytelling. Hmm.
  • KaiokenKid - October 27, 2010 12:16 a.m.

    Hate to ask the same ol question everytime, but did they do a better job on the PS3 version of this game then they did the first one? I know they went out and said they messed up the port on PS3 for the first game.
  • Darth_Griffin - October 27, 2010 12:06 a.m.

    I played it, and while I love it itself, the story length is too short :(
  • snoopy28358 - October 26, 2010 11:56 p.m.

    Joshin69: The reason Darth Vader cannot use force lightning is simple. He doesn't have any hands. Both his arms are mechanical and cannot produce the lightning without causing damage to himself.
  • BishopofHippo93 - October 26, 2010 10:39 p.m.

    This is the best review of the game I've seen thus far. Both Gametrailers and Gameinformer gave it very poor reviews, which makes me wonder, because I generally trust the opinions of the good folks at Gamesradar.
  • Crabhand - October 26, 2010 10:01 p.m.

    Looking on Metacritic, this is currently the highest review rating. Kinda weird considering Games Radar tends to rate in the mid-lower range compared to other sites/zines (with obvious exception being Jim Sterling).
  • Yeager1122 - October 26, 2010 9:13 p.m.

    Probably going to pick this up when the price drops especially if its short.
  • Doctalen - October 26, 2010 9:11 p.m.

    BATTLEFRONT 3 PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Showing 1-20 of 39 comments

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