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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II

Attack of the Clone?

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Even the most enthusiastic developer will tell you making games is damned hard work. Nonetheless, it's hard not to be jealous of those who get to play around with the Star Wars licence. Imagine creating your worlds as a level designer and then getting to fill them with the iconic motifs of a beloved and instantly recognisable universe – shiny Stormtroopers, swooshing lightsabers, the ominous rasping respirations of Darth Vader. And then there are all those other characters. It must be awesome to witness someone you've designed having a chat with Yoda in a cut-scene.

The original Force Unleashed revelled in the spectacle and visual effects of Star Wars, inviting you to put irresistibly cool Dark Side powers to use in chaotic, flashy and occasionally over-the-top combat. Putting all the God of Star Wars jokes aside for a moment, the licence turned out to be a good fit for a violent action game. However, repetitive enemies and occasionally unimaginative levels didn't always do enough to encourage you to exploit the full destructive potential of the Force.

At least it was well-written. The plot, penned by Haden Blackman, is among the best of any Star Wars videogame. Blackman has since left LucasArts, but not before polishing off the storyline for the sequel. Force Unleashed II recognises its predecessor's strengths – a rich story and round characters, graphical flair and the dangerous allure of using Force powers to kill and destroy – but it's letting us play a bit more creatively in the Star Wars sandbox.

The Michael Jackson Lean is part of Stormtrooper basic training.

Force Unleashed II is set shortly after the first game and between the two film trilogies, not long before Episode IV. Starkiller, having died at the end of the first game, has been cloned by Darth Vader at his secret research base on the stormy, sun-deprived an unmistakeably Dark Side-y planet Kamino.

But the experiment is failing. The clone is tormented by mysteriously inherited memories of the original Starkiller, particularly his love interest Juno, and resolves to escape from Kamino in order to trace his memories back to their source. Where the first Force Unleashed was about redemption, claims the developer, Force Unleashed II is about identity.

Both games, of course, are about slapping, slicing, zapping and force-throwing Empire-affiliated rapscallions of the Star Wars universe around by means of sleek lightsabre-based melee combat, eye-catching choreographed grapples and a small but effective selection of Force powers.

The Spider Hug Robots are some of Starkiller's less menacing foes.

More is being done to employ the full range of these delightfully destructive powers this time around. There are enemies who will only succumb to certain tactics, like flying Stormtroopers who must be zapped out of the air with Force Lightning and robots with enormous shields that have to be flung away with Force Grip.

More varied enemies means more fun with the combat – why bother spamming the melee button to slowly dismantle an AT when you can stop its missiles in the air with Force Push, then send them straight back into its face?