by jsslifelike, format by Incubus Folly
The ‘Value Propo$ition’ series of reviews are based on the amount of your hard-earned cash that each attribute earns. All values are tallied in the end, and if the total exceeds the MSRP, the title is wholly recommended. Slightly below indicates a rental and well under equals out to avoiding the game at all costs or purchase at a discount.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is a third-person action adventure game for the Xbox360, PS3, and PC(there are also Wii and handheld versions, but they are not included in this review) and is the sequel to the 2008 semi-successful endeavor on the same exact platforms. To this point, the series staple has vaguely promised grandiose Force manipulations and somewhat delivered… until now.
The Visuals. A review should more or less begin on a high point, so here goes: SWTFUII looks terrific. Environments, while mostly corridor-focused, are well realized and most certainly give the feel of an expanded universe outing. Perhaps the most impressive sequences, though, are the free-fall pieces that contain a plethora of active happenings, all without any hit to the framerate. Ring up a crisp, freshly-printed 20 Dollar bill.
The Audio. Aurally, the consumer is already cognizent of what comes built-in with audio of any officially licensed Star Wars product. It is to be especially noted here that Sam Witwer, the actor that lends his voice and persona to the main character, Starkiller, gives the digital performance of a lifetime. The voice talent cogs placed around him, however, aren’t up to the same level, but it’s a moot point as series staples such as composition and sound effects are just so damned good. 25 bones, LucasArts.
The Narrative. So, you’re thinking the review is not too brutal thus far, correct? Here’s where the game begins to go south. The cutscenes are rendered in such an amazing fashion that they should push the player that much more to press on, but the incredible gaphical fidelity cannot hide the fact that they seem animated on-the-fly. A simple storyboard or animatic could have prevented this! Starkiller’s “mentor”, General Kota(voiced by Cully Fredricksen), possesses a voice that seems phoned-in and performed independent of everyone else. The rotten cherry on top is the fact of an overall story arc that tells an unresolved tale, thus negating the point of… telling a story? Add to that the fact of THE most “fan service” locale of the game being boiled down to a brisk five minute walk and that’s a Hamilton worth of penalty.
The Mechanics. Starkiller’s tactile control has markedly improved over it’s preceeding doppleganger. Combat is rewarding and accomplishes the task of making the player feel like an ultra-powerful Jedi. The environments are not as cluttered with “grippable” items, which serves to make the auto-lock-on less cumbersome. Enemy types are sent out in progressing waves of difficulty such as in a puzzle game, but the patterns become predictable. Still, impressive and it equates to a 10 Dollar addition. But, this category is a tale of two facets. SWTFUII may very well be one of the most unbalanced titles to date. It often places the player in underdog positions, forcing them to creatively use cover or “glitch” to proceed. This fact alone cancels out the “kill X amount of enemies in a certain way” achievements as well. Boo on you, LucasArts- minus $5.
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is a piece of software that is not entirely convinced of what it wants to be. One one hand, it is a gorgeous, immersive piece of the Star Wars tapestry, but at the same time, it contains an abhorrently presented narrative and inconsistent difficulty. The game should not even be contemplated at full price, but with the right gift card or coupon, it’s an easier pill to swallow. If this is the case and you are a fan of the previous installment, you could indubitably spend six hours in a worse manner.
- VISUALS: +$20
- SOUND DESIGN: +$25
- PLOT: -$10
- GAMEPLAY: +$5