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"Force Unleashed" sequel is disappointingly short

By Jordan Wright
On October 28, 2010

Imagine sitting down to watch the most satisfying action film that you have ever seen in your life, only to have the film cut off half way by somebody stealing $30 from your wallet. Once the situation is taken care of, you return to finish watching your movie, only to discover that it was never interrupted, but was actually finished. These feelings of surprise, disappointed anticipation and anger at the loss of precious money, essentially summarize my experience with "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2," the biggest Star Wars disappointment to come along since Episode 1: "The Phantom Menace" hit theaters.

Set several months after the Light Side ending to "The Force Unleashed," TFU2 opens up with a clone of Starkiller, the Jedi protagonist of the previous game who sacrificed himself to save the Rebel Alliance, being told by Darth Vader that he is a failure like all of the clones before him, and will be executed as such. Refusing to accept such a fate, the Starkiller clone escapes the facility seeks out the Rebel Alliance, attracted to them by the original Starkiller's memories. As engrossing as the story is and grows as it goes along, it is undercut by the brevity of the game.

In terms of game play, TFU2 is a vast improvement over its predecessor. This time around, Starkiller uses two lightsabers, which allow for customization of individual sabers to boost attack, increase healing, and a utilize a variety of other different effects. The combat itself is much smoother and more fluid than the original, making every combat engagement fast and satisfying.

Even cooler than the lightsabers combat, are the Force powers, ranging from awe-inspiring to consistently amusing. Powers like Push and Lightning make the player feel like a demigod, but the little things like the Mind Trick are what I fell in love with. The joy of hypnotizing an entire squadron of Storm Troopers into killing each other under the idea that everybody surrounding them is a spy, is something that I will never get sick of. With the exception of a few frame-rate stutters, TFU2 is one of the most satisfying action game experiences I have had in years.

Every possible praise that I can heap upon the game, however, becomes almost moot by the unacceptably short length of the game. At eight missions total, the game is over after a mere five hours of play. It would be different if the experience was brought full circle by the end, but the game closes so abruptly that almost everything suffers because of it. To say that the story ends on a cliffhanger would be to imply that there was actually an ending to begin with. The game doesn't properly end, it simply stops. Just as the plot was taking shape, and right when the clone Starkiller's character arc was truly beginning, the credits roll at what feels more like a halfway point than the conclusion of a building storyline. Worst of all, at a price of $60, the investment becomes instantly questionable once you realize that you plowed through the bulk of the game in an afternoon.

I fail to understand why this has come to be. I would have gladly waited a year, even a year and a half, for a campaign two times longer than this. Had such a thing happened, I would have gladly dropped $60 for a nearly perfect action game, as well as the best piece of Star Wars lore in recent history. As it is however, "Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2" is a solid weekend rental, but nothing more.

3 out of 5 stars

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