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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II E3 Presentation

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Posted by: Jonathan H. Cooper

While it didn’t do all that well critically, the success of The Force Unleashed is hard to ignore. By blending together three game engines, LucasArts was able to create one of the most technologically advanced looking games of the generation. Never before could players step into the shoes of a Jedi so completely, though, despite some major successes, there were also a number of failures. The gameplay became repetitive fast, the boss battles were atrocious, and there were glitches and control problems that prevented it from being the game everyone expected it to be.

None of this stopped the game from selling, however, and now, with The Force Unleashed II, LucasArts is looking to fix the problems from the first while continuing to grow the series’ already fantastic narrative. This starts by resurrecting the game’s protagonist, who died a glorious sacrificial death at the end of the original. Starkiller is back thanks to cloning technology, which works in two, important ways: It allows the developers to have the character return without needing to break star wars cannon, and gives them a fantastic opportunity to strip the character of his powers. It also lets the player visit Kamino, one of the most visually interesting locations from the prequels, at the opening of the game. When it begins, Starkiller is fighting for his life, and getting used to some of his new abilities, all the while dealing with strange memories of a woman named Juno Eclipse.

Story wasn’t expanded on much at E3, though some basics were given. Vader has been cloning Starkiller, one has memories, Vader tries to have him killed, and he escapes. Beyond that, not much was being discussed, instead focusing on the element most people care about more: combat. Much has changed in the six months since the original, and the clone of Starkiller has a number of abilities the original didn’t have. The ability to wield two lightsabers, for instance, is the most obvious change, while a number of other improvements were also shown off. He has access to a new Force Ability in Jedi Mind Trick that causes foes to turn suicidal, as well as another called Force Fury that feels right at home in the series.

If the original game’s combat “unleashed” the force, Force Fury sets it loose on a whole new level. When active, it enhances every single thing that Starkiller does. Force Push becomes something more akin to Force Cannonball, Jedi Mind Trick turns groups of enemies into a band of allies, and lightsaber attacks, which can cut off limbs in the new game, are stronger and capable of slicing off opponents’ heads. Everything is turned to eleven, seeing more force abilities amplified to the nth level is something to look forward to.

In order to combat the complaint of repetition, they’ve added in some new elements that should help in the variety department. When the demo began, Starkiller was in a free fall, shooting TIE Fighters with lightning as he tumbled hundreds of feet through the air. Later, he took on a number of different powerful enemies, none of which were completely immune to his force powers. One of the most frustrating things about the original were the occasional foes who, for whatever reason, couldn’t be damaged by Starkiller’s different skills. Thankfully, it doesn’t appear that this element is back. Instead, they’re just upping the ante when it comes to enemy variety, and adding some opponents that are immune to just one or two of his abilities, instead of a majority of them.

LucasArts has heard the complaints. They’ve read the reviews. They’ve read the comments. They know that their best-selling game was, in essence, disappointing to many, and they need to step it up if they don’t want to tarnish the Force Unleashed name any further. With this sequel, due out in October, it appears they’ve done a good job at creating righting their wrongs, and we’re hoping that the fixes create an experience to remember.

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