Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II outs Darth Vader as a serial kidnapper. This time, the princess is Juno Eclipse, an Imperial she-wolf gone soft, and the love interest of Starkiller, the dark lord’s secret Jedi apprentice.
This sequel to 2008’s surprisingly effective Star Wars: The Force Unleashed finds Starkiller cloned by Vader and still unwilling to play ball with the Empire. So Vader nabs Eclipse, providing his pupil with the proper motivation to go emo. That means using the Force to zap, strangle, and throw a zillion Stormtroopers. Against such cannon-fodder, Starkiller’s powers remain fun. The Force is still fussy when it comes to picking up and hurling junk, but this breezy God Of War clone makes lightsaber-fu easy. Particularly thrilling are the over-the-top moments where Starkiller goes Dragonball, powering up massive attacks, flying through the skies like a suicidal freefaller, and levitating huge chunks of Star Destroyer wreckage with his mind.
The Force Unleashed II strays from the path when it introduces enemies immune to your psychic attacks, and hordes of robots and mechs that take much too long to dispatch. The game’s final third devolves into Jedi busywork, but is saved by a prolonged encounter with Vader himself. After all these years, the man in black can still feel fearsome. But when the midichlorians settle and the final light-or-dark decision is made, the game feels thin, like it’s missing a middle. Starkiller’s Dagobah visit is all too brief, acting merely as an excuse for the guy to double back and find his lady-friend. And a plot thread setting up Boba Fett is left dangling, until the ending feels like an ace in the hole presumptuously saved for the next sequel. The Force Unleashed only just barely won us over. Holding back this late in the game is an epic misstep.