Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
Lightsabre duels with dual lightsabres
Force Unleashed II starts off promisingly enough. But, of course, Star Wars games always do. The explosion of the LSO's brass section and the trapezoidal prologue rolling off into the field of stars maintains its magical ability to blow away cynicism and replace it with childlike wonderment.
A slice of the action
This impetus is sustained through Force Unleashed II's opening hour. Despite glaring paradoxes in continuity – the severity of which depends upon your choice at the end of the original – the narrative initially engrosses through impressive cut-scenes. Graphics and physics are palpably improved over the original. And the new dismemberment system, twin lightsabres and refinement to Force Power controls make opening encounters feel fresh and entertaining.
But it's not long before you begin to feel a great disturbance in the Force, as if a couple of hundred developers' imaginations suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. All too quickly, Force Unleashed II reveals itself as genre by numbers, with combat proving particularly shallow compared with the best brawlers, such as God of War and Castlevania: Lord of Shadows.
Where those games struck a fine balance between player abilities and enemy attack patterns, Force Unleashed II debases its combat. Stereotyping enemies with one-dimensional attack patterns and vulnerabilities, combat feels patently formulaic as you weaken enemy type 4 with Force Power B, before killing them with attack pattern X.
Combat is easy enough wielding lightsabres alone, but Force Powers are all too powerfully reductive. With the vast majority of levels based around vertiginous walkways, the predominant Stormtrooper classes can simply be picked up and tossed over the side with Force Grip. And heavier, resistant enemies need only a few blasts of Force Lightning before taking them down with a couple of button presses in woefully perfunctory QTEs.