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     " ...a crushing blow from...the heir to such noble heritage. "

      Title: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II by Lucas Arts

      Format: Third Person Platformer

      Reviewing Monkey: Dunapult


The Hype:

     The Force Unleashed was something of a groundbreaking game for the venerable Star Wars franchise. Its story was not only stellar in scope and execution, it was also considered canon--something that no game before it could claim. And though technically flawed--quite severely in some cases--it acted as a new beacon of hope, that Star Wars games could go back to a level best described as "not sucking."

What This Monkey Thought...

     But, unfortunately, The Force Unleashed II (FU2) has already managed to break that one-game win streak. Though beautifully modeled and, quite often, visually stunning, FU2 is a disappointment on almost every other level.
     As anyone who played the first game will tell you, The Force Unleashed had a number of fairly serious flaws that unquestionably needed correction. The game was short--typically giving a player less than a couple of night's entertainment. The combat was fairly juvenile, typically occurring in one of two modes: requiring you to either mindlessly button mash against generic storm troopers or use specific powers against enemies that were invulnerable against everything else. The boss battles were painfully rote and typically far too frustrating. The targeting, tracking, and camera were abysmal. And the game frequently tossed set pieces at you that would require you to die repeatedly until you figured out what, exactly, each little mini-game was expecting of you.
     Sadly, FU2 fixes almost none of these. This version is even shorter, lasting five or six hours at the most. The average combat--which is typically composed of a medium number of generic troopers coupled with a small number of specific attack heroes--is entertaining at first but quickly becomes tired. The boss battles are still uninspired. And the set pieces are still as random and unexplained and frustrating as before.
     But even worse, the one absolutely exemplary part of the first game--a gripping, award winning story--is now painfully absent. Instead all were given is an amateur "made for TV" feeling plot that has Darth Vader inexplicably, and repeatedly, trying to clone his former apprentice despite the fact that the original betrayed him and all the clones followed in the original's footsteps and had to be destroyed. Sadly for ole' Anakin, we take the reins of the most recent clone who breaks free and goes on the run, making an almost incoherent journey that parades him past a who's who of nonsensical cameos and provides little explanation for his jumping from battle location to battle location.
     It's a story that would be a disappointment from any game, but is a crushing blow from one that is the heir to such noble heritage.
     Still, despite these many glaring flaws, the game is not all bad. The graphics are excellent. Unleashing lightsaber and power combos remains satisfying. The Force usage and leveling system are both improved and streamlined, and some fun new powers have been added--including the ability to "Suggest" that enemies either fight on your behalf or feel such despair that they suicide.
     It's just that, unless you're either a die-hard Star Wars fan or a big advocate of generic platformers, you won't find anything particularly redeeming in this very short, very trite, very under-imagined title.


      The Verdict:


      What it's Worth: Rental.

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