Hands-On With The Force Unleashed 2

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It wasn’t until last week that I finished Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. I knew you had to pull down a Star Destroyer at some point in the game and the Proxy into Darth Maul reveal was spoiled by Evan and Haden Blackman, so I didn’t really feel the need to finish the game. But then I paid a visit to Haden and the rest of the TFU team in the Presidio.

Having played TFU recently, jumping into an extensive hands-on demo of TFU2 felt natural. It also made it much easier to notice the improvements, of which there are many.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, the TFU2 team enhanced and redefined what being a Jedi is with two new Force Powers: Mind Trick and Force Fury. With Mind Trick, you now know what it’s like to be Obi Wan or Luke in ROTJ. Troopers react in one of two ways: launch themselves into the next world or attack their own. Of course, Mind Trick doesn’t work on everyone because certain troopers/guards are a bit stronger willed than others. Think of Force Fury as your “I’ve had it up to here” meter. Once that meter is topped out, you can unleash the beast with all manner of heightened force powers and extricate limbs from their owners. AT-STs are no match for a pissed off Jedi.

An issue I experienced quite often with TFU was the lag between initiating a combo or an array of lightsaber attacks and the ability to counter a counterattack. In other words, Starkiller isn’t quite as nimble as he should be, but that issue has been addressed and it’s much improved this go-around. Initiating and performing Force Powers, like Force Pull and Push are much easier to pull off. If you think about it in terms of the Star Wars analogy, you were nothing more than a padawan in TFU and are now a full blown Jedi in TFU2.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t tip my hat to the art team. TFU2 looks gorgeous. Hundreds of pieces of art were commissioned to help build the worlds of TFU2. Tiny insignificant planets that may have shown up in the movies for a split second have now become these beautifully constructed planets. One of which houses a giant Rancor-like monster that’s chained inside a rather large pit. He’s a little angry and wants to get out or kill you. The boss battle with this one is reminiscent of something you might see in God of War or Dante’s Inferno. But I was only shown snippets, so I can’t comment further than that.

Do you like mini-games? Well, you’re going to get some in TFU2 but they don’t annoyingly pop up during actual gameplay. One in particular was a platformer where you have to jump from one moving platform to another to collect Holocron cubes. I sucked at it but it’s a lot of pressure when you have members of the team surrounding you and judging you.

By now you’ve heard that Yoda will make an appearance in the game to guide Starkiller into the Cave of Evils (seriously, is this canon?). Boba Fett also makes an appearance along with a new set of Troopers dubbed Terror Troopers. These are the guys you don’t want to meet in a dark alley. It’s unclear whether or not they’re humans, clones, robots or hybrids. I imagine they’re Vader’s pre-Noghri personal assassin army experiment. Anakin is a bit of tinkerer and he’s constantly experimenting with man and machine hybrids. Details are scarce but you may notice that these guys have antennas attached to their packs, which means they’re being given orders OTA or some type of hive mind connection is going on. I’m intrigued, to say the least.

Issues that were prevalent in TFU appear to have been addressed in TFU2. The combat system, including Starkiller’s dual lightsabers and upgraded Force Powers, feel natural and easy to use for veterans and novices alike. Not much of the story has been told. Is Starkiller really a clone? He died in the first game and Vader revived him. The memories that haunt our conflicted Jedi can’t be the result of an accelerated cloning process, which Vader claims is the cause of such ‘nightmares’ that Starkiller dreams. Or maybe true love knows no bounds. Juno is a bit of HOPA, am I right?

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 is out October 26, 2010, for all major platforms.

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