Gaming & Technology

The latest 'Star Wars' video game fails to live up to its considerable hype

Gamers expected a lot from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, the sequel to LucasArts' 2008 offering. The media campaign behind this game was huge, with commercials, interviews and videos everywhere.

LucasArts promised improved gameplay, new powers and more of the great story line, and the studio said it had listened to its fans and corrected the complaints from the first game.

Well, there are new powers, and the story continues to be excellently told. Everything else, unfortunately is as mediocre as it ever was. Players resume the role of Starkiller, Darth Vader's not-so-secret apprentice. Vader explains in the opening that Starkiller is yet another clone of the original and that he has failed Vader once again. Starkiller promptly escapes to restore his memories and find his long-lost love, Juno Eclipse.

I wish I could spend this entire review talking about the story, because that's one of only two redeeming values. The other is the sheer cool factor and scale of Starkiller's powers. LucasArts clearly wanted to make his powers seem supercharged, and they executed this well. Taking down Tie Fighters with a force crush has never been so much fun. But once you get over the cool stuff you can do with his powers, you realize that the gameplay quickly becomes extremely boring.

It's not that the game doesn't play well. It does. It's just boring. There is no motivation to continue playing after the first few hours, because the next few levels you play will almost assuredly be exactly like the previous few levels.

Let this be a lesson for developers everywhere: You shouldn't make gamers learn how you want them to play games. You should be doing the opposite: Let gamers play games how they want and make the games react accordingly.

It's a big disappointment to approach a mini-boss when I know that the game wants me to perform the same move I've done on the past 35 mini-bosses, and nothing else I do will cause any damage.

Taking down enemies becomes tedious and formulaic, and boss fights are all about figuring out what the game wants you to do instead of letting you do what you want to do. It's frustratingly boring, to say the least.

The most disappointing aspect of the game isn't any of the individual parts; it's that there is so much squandered potential here. It's simply amazing. The story deserves great gameplay, which it definitely did not get, and the force powers of Starkiller are so cool that it's a shame that he comes off as so lame and uninspired.