Luke be a Jedi tonight.
As you may recall, the first Force Unleashed fell short of expectations, or at least my expectations. But a sequel means a chance for the exact same thing that the young Starkiller sought in the first game: redemption. And that is of course exactly what LucasArts is hoping for with The Force Unleashed 2. Of course, there are the standard upgrades, such as enhanced graphics and lighting effects, but it's the Star Wars-specific details that are going to peak your interest.
[image1]Once again you'll take on the role of Starkiller, or at the very least his clone. Or is it? You see, no one, including the young Jedi himself is entirely sure if he's the original. After the events of the first game, which left you assuming that your hero had died while completing his quest, Darth Vader snuck off with the remains and has apparently made a very convincing carbon copy. Or has he? You never know with these Jedi types; they can be pretty sneaky, what with their mind tricks and all. The search for the truth will play a major role in the plot.
The demo we saw at E3 showed off the first level: a daring escape from Vader's clone factory (playdough not included) that starts off with some free-fall battle action much like the cavernous descent scenes in God of War 3. After a lovely in-flight brawl, it was onto the more traditional action from the first game, only everything has been tweaked for improved precision and the camera has been vastly improved. Quick-time events have been polished to be more cinematic and less of a button-mashing hassle.
Along with the tune-up, some new features have been added as well, such as the Jedi mind trick which will make enemies turn on each other or get so depressed that they decide to end it all and jump off a cliff. At max power, the might of your Jedi brain will cause enemies to explode like in the movie Scanners. There's also a new combo system that will help you max out your brand new force meter, which will crank all your powers to over 9000 when full and allow you to dismember Stormtroopers in a most painful manner. And to help you do it all, you'll have not just one, but two - yes, two - lightsabers to help you hack away at clone after clone. (Act now and we'll throw in a slap-chop!)
[image2]But you're not the only one with upgrades. Stormtroopers might not be able to shoot for shit (otherwise, how would you explain a group of them not being able to pick off Luke and Leia in an elevator shaft?), but they're not as stupid as they look. New units like the jump trooper who has a jetpack and a rocket launcher, and the imperial riot trooper who carries a dual-sided shock stick, have been called to arms to take the renegade apprentice down. There are even some new robots like the carbonite war droid who carries a big-ass shield and can freeze both you and your enemies in carbonite. You'll actually be quite comfortable in it, if you survive.
Will Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 be enough of an improvement to make me forgive them for the fiasco that was the first Unleashed? Or will it continue to make me as bitter and spiteful as Emporer Palpatine? It certainly looks promising. We'll find out together later this year on October 26th when it launches for the PS3, 360, Wii, DS and PC. Until then, may the force be with you. (I'm sorry, I had to say it.)