If you head into space, you want to take the right kit with you. For Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, that kit turned out to be middleware. It's hard not to have fun when you've got the likes of DMM and Euphoria under the hood - the first being a materials simulation system capable of turning out all sorts, from ice that both melts and cracks to convincing broccoli, while the second is a hilariously believable character animation programme responsible, among other things, for Red Dead Redemption's gloriously unsettling horsey deaths.
Together with Havok, they ensured that LucasArts' first Force-powered adventure was as much a treat for physics fans as it was for the kind of people who name their first child Rankor, and while the game wasn't perfect, I certainly remember the day I first mind-gripped a passing TIE Fighter and flung it through a window. (I really do. It was a Tuesday.)
As the best-selling Star Wars game ever made, a sequel was pretty much inevitable, but that didn't mean it was going to be easy. Star Wars fans like their stories even more than they like their plastic Wookiees, and Force Unleashed concluded pretty, like, conclusively, with - spoiler - the death of the player character. That's if you took the righteous path, anyhow, which the team now considers the canonical ending.
Not even Obi-Wan Kenobi likes to leave money on the table, however, which means that LucasArts' writer, Haden Blackman - I suspect Haden put something into one of those Star Wars name generators to come up with that moniker - had his work cut out for him. Luckily, it looks like he's risen to the challenge in a pretty entertaining manner.
A continuation of the previous game's plotline, the story for Force Unleashed II slots in between episodes III and IV, which indicates that it's somewhere around the one where Yoda burns down the frozen banana stand without realising it's papered with money, but before the part where Lando Calrissian's divorced parents both turn up to the same party and the gang have to keep them in separate rooms all evening.
Okay, I'm lying (Yoda burns down the banana stand in Star Trek, obv.): it's between whatever happens at the end of the Jimmy Smits trilogy and the bit when that door fizzes open at the start of the Harrison Ford years.
The story seems to be pretty important for this one, early narrative challenges notwithstanding. Darth Vader's taken the original Apprentice's actions quite badly, it seems, and has spent a lot of time trying to clone the little chap in a nasty and rather sparsely decorated room on the water planet of Kamino.
The process hasn't gone particularly well, however, as most of the clones turn out to be a bit nutty. Brilliantly, you're one of the nuttier ones, haunted by memories of your past life, and not excessively gifted at reigning in your explosive Force powers. Before you can say, "Whatever happened to the guy that played Wedge?" you've busted free and are off on a jaunt across the galaxy to sort your head out and come to terms with your destiny. You know, by throwing Storm Troopers off cliffs.
LucasArts has clearly taken more care and attention over the plotting than is traditional for this kind of game, and you'd be wise to expect surprising twists and lofty production values. Storyboards for the cut-scenes suggest that the staging tends towards the epic, and there's a real sense of the developer trying to do the series justice.