So I tried the demo to The Force Unleashed 2, and it got me thinking a fair bit, so I thought I’d do what any responsible blogger would do: To the website!
First, for anyone who played the first one and was solely interested in just blowing things up with the Force and had alot of fun with that, you’ll like this. The core gameplay was instantly familiar having played the first, and even without looking at a menu I was already putting together force power/lightsaber combos and pretty much wrecking the landscape.
Not much has changed. They added a Jedi Mind Trick, which seems to be used to make Stormtroopers kill themselves rather then anything I could consciousably call constructive ( Though it is kinda funny to see this guy just hurl himself out of a window like he saw a lone twinkie adrift at sea or something ). It just seems a bit more effort when just tapping Force Push could accomplish the same thing, albeit less subtly. Hope they use that more. They’ve also added a Force Rage sort of effect where after a meter builds up, Starkiller goes nuts and all his attacks deal more damage. Eh, it works, but he was already pretty overpowered, so it wasn’t quite as dramatic a shift as I was hoping for.
Oh, and because it wasn’t enough like the God of War series, you get occasional scenes where Starkiller goes into freefall out of a building and has to dodge things on the way. I actually like this feature better here, because when I did this in God of War 3 and couldn’t get out of the way of a rock in time, Kratos couldn’t use the Force to smash it to bits, so it actually feels more tactile and fun here.
Quicktime events are back. Sigh. So I still get to do amazingly cool action bits, but almost miss the entire thing because I’m looking for button prompts. Sorry Yahtzee.
Ok so that’s the gameplay. It’s pretty much the same formula, just tweaked to be more God of War. This is not a bad thing necessarily, as we’ve seen this formula be fun as hell, but there it is. Now the bigger issue ( for me anyway ); the story.
NOTE: The following will contain some degree of spoilers to the Force Unleashed 1, and what’s in the demo of 2, slightly.
Let me say first I enjoyed the story in the first game. It had a nice evolution for the main character from Sith Assassin to eventual hero that didn’t ever feel forced, ( Well, ok the love story part of it felt kinda forced, but I can forgive that for the pacing an action game requires as opposed to an RPG ), and most importantly: Had a very definite resolution. Starkiller rises up to confront Vader, and ( Assuming you went with the good ending and I think that’s what Lucasarts is going with for ‘canon’ ) sacrifices himself to save the leaders of the Rebellion. It at once closes the story between Vader and Starkiller and also removes the most overpowered character in the history of the Force from the universe at the same time. Yeah it was a little sad, but sometimes you need sad endings to provide gravity and emotional closure to things, and it worked.
For a moment, I thought that’d be it. Then I remembered how damn well this game sold and figured yeah, they’d do a sequel. And sure enough, here we are. So the idea here is that Vader’s flash cloned Starkiller, and is trying to make this one be a better apprentice. Most of the clones went insane, getting flashbacks from Starkiller’s old life and the people in it and Vader decides the player character ( Who I will call Clone #42 ) needs to be killed. 42 gets the jump on Vader and bolts. The demo covers 42 blowing up half of Kamino before stealing Vader’s own starfighter and getting the hell out of there.
So here’s my concern/problem with all this. The first game’s emotional and even marketing focus centered around Starkiller and Vader. Forget the rebellion, forget the Emperor, everything was building up to those two finally confronting each other and having it out. And when it happened, it was epic and awesome and yes, cinematic. Or at least the good parts of cinematic that apply to gaming.
But we’ve done it. As great as it was, lightning doesn’t really strike twice. And throughout the demo, everytime Vader tried to come across as the usual dominating badass he ordinarily is, I couldn’t help but remember Starkiller Force pushing him through a wall and pretty much beating the piss out of him.
The last reveal in the demo is Starkiller just at Vader’s fighter, and they do the classic move when you run from a bad guy; Camera pans to the door at the opposite end of the landing, and the door blows apart to reveal Vader doing the Jason Voorhees “I’ll get there eventually and it’ll be very unpleasant” sort of walk. Now 42 is justly terrified because this is his creator here trying to kill him, but meanwhile I’m the ID in his head going, “Dude! Man up! You could destroy this guy”
So Vader’s lost a lot of credibility as a bad guy here, he just doesn’t have the same threatening presence as he did in the first. Which is a shame for alot of reasons, and all this just serves to make it very hard to get immersed in the story.
So yeah, not sure how to feel about this one. Though those who know me personally and know the extent of my Star Wars geekness know just as well as I do, the sad, simple truth.
I will probably still be playing this the week it’s out.
-Considered ruling the galaxy. Then got into video games.