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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II super review

Takes almost everything we didn't like before and fixes it

Small changes to the way you can control your movements, your attacks, and the Force make gameplay smoother in almost every facet. In the first game, actively blocking attacks rooted you in place; now, you can walk while blocking. The Force Dash maneuver is now a little bit faster, carries you a little bit farther, and has a shorter cooldown which means you can zip around more rapidly. These changes to blocking and dashing alone make the game faster and more nimble.

You also won't find yourselfgetting “stuck” without any control inputs nearly as much. What we mean is, in TFU there were many attack animations where you were locked into them and committed, leaving yourself vulnerable and unable to respond to threats. This has been tightened up significantly. The first game also had a really irritating tendency to knock you prone and then force you to sit through an agonizing time before Starkiller would get to his feet like he had all the time in the world – and then the game had the nerve to make enemies continue to hit you while you were down or almost finished getting up. TFU II has essentially eliminated this problem. We had a few moments where the swarm of enemies suddenly overwhelmed us with stacked damage, but most of the time we didn’t experience cheap-feeling attacks.

Above: "Ah, see now those are the EXACT guys I wanted to cook"

Another huge gripe with the original game was the finicky targeting system and how it made Force Grip a bit of a dice-roll. This system has been improved in two ways. First, there is simply a lot less clutter lying around the levels, so there aren’t as many potential targets to confuse the lock-on system. Second, the targeting itself has been tweaked somehow to just better guess what you want to grab onto. Sure, there are still moments where you’ll pick up something you don’t want, but the difference between the games is substantial.

Customizing your power

The upgrade system has been revamped: instead of gaining levels and spheres, Starkiller earns Force Points and then simply spends them like currency on individual powers. Upgrades for each power have different costs, so it becomes interesting to choose what to upgrade. The options have actually been pared down quite a bit, and frankly we don’t mind at all – the old system feels bloated and full of redundancies. Part of this is covered by the improved health and Force bars – Starkiller now regenerates health automatically, and Force regenerates more quickly – it has a shorter down time thanks to no “overuse” bar where in TFU you’d actually get a yellow bar that had to deplete before your Force energy even started refilling. The other part that has shifted customization involves the lightsabers.

TFU II sure likes to show off Starkiller’s new dual lightsabers. Strangely, there’s no story explanation for why he uses them – Darth Vader just hands him two of them without comment. In combat terms, the dual lightsabers are only cosmetic. They don’t change anything noticeable in the way you fight. However, they do make swapping saber crystals more interesting, since you can combine two colors for complementary effects. Changing them actually makes a big difference in TFU II, so a bit of strategy comes into play.

Above: Force Repulse looks spectacular, but the actual mechanic isn't particularly interesting, so we chose not to upgrade it at all

We often employed blue crystals to maximize our ability to cast force powers frequently, but in tough situations where incoming damage became difficult to avoid, we swapped to our purple and green combo: purple to increase our defenses, and green to speed up health regeneration. Later on, fighting against warriors who also wield dual lightsabers and who are extremely skilled at blocking any attacks, we swapped in crystals to add damage effects, like an incineration crystal that ignited enemies - this way, even if the warriors blocked our strikes, they would catch fire. It’s also fun to just mix and match crystals for the sake of creating aesthetically pleasing combinations of lightsaber colors.

More Info

DescriptionStar 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.
PlatformXbox 360, PS3, PC
US censor ratingTeen
UK censor ratingRating Pending
Release date26 October 2010 (US), 1 January 1970 (UK)
My new approach to play all games on Hard mode straight off the bat has proven satisfying. Sure there is some frustration, but I've decided it's the lesser of two evils when weighed against the boredom of easiness that Normal difficulty has become in the era of casual gaming.