Remember in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, when Spock gave his life to save those he cared about? Remember the emotional gravitas of that scene, realizing that he cared enough about his cause to make the ultimate sacrifice? Then remember how the next one completely nullified all that when they conveniently found a way to bring him back? Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 may have copied more than a few notes from the Enterprise’s computer.
At the conclusion of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Starkiller realized the error of his evil ways, turned on his master, Vader, founded the Rebel Alliance, and forfeit his life to defend it... or did he? Our behind-closed-doors E3 demo of Force Unleashed 2 features a most-definitely-alive Starkiller, who has been brought to believe that he is a clone of the real deal. As events unfold, however, he begins to have doubts about that assumption.
The cutscene we were shown depicts Starkiller, Vader, and two storm troopers holding our hero down inside a dark room on Kamino (the planet where clones are made). Vader instructs the stormtroopers to kill Starkiller, as he has performed his duties (whatever those may be), and then leaves. It need not be explained to any Force Unleashed veteran how monumentally they fail to carry out their task, after which the Jedi runs outside and kills an entire battalion with a Force explosion. A massive spider-like droid enters the scene and shoots a powerful laser beam, which Starkiller is able to hold back with a single hand. He then fires Force lightning at the droid, chops off a leg with his lightsaber, and climbs on its head and slices it up before jumping upward and slicing the machine cleanly in half. “Vader can’t stop me now,” an enraged Starkiller broods, “Nothing can.”
We then transitioned to gameplay, where our demonstrator, Julio Torres of LucasArts, maneuvered Starkiller as he jumped off one of Kamino’s high platforms to escape the impending threat of Vader. Freefalling is one of the new gameplay styles introduced in Force Unleashed 2. In this sequence, Torres manoeuvred Starkiller to the left and right as he fell, using the Force to adjust his position and blast enemies and obstacles out of his way. Explosions and lightning littered the screen as fog obscured distant obstacles—it was absolute chaos. Of course, it’s an unwritten rule that it must be raining during big outdoor setpieces like this, and the water effects were absolutely stunning.
Eventually, a quick cutscene showed Starkiller crashing through the roof of a dome-shaped building, landing in an observation room and sending all surrounding enemies flying. Transitioning back to gameplay, Torres was confronted by some large enemies with lightsaber-resistant staffs, and so he had to make strategic use of the various Force powers to dispose of them. As he finished them and the lesser enemies off, the camera occasionally pulled in close and put the action into slow motion to highlight a particularly flashy combo. Two menacing enemy ships then approached the area, to which he responded by using the Force to smash one into the other.
Continuing on, we saw Starkiller use the Force to manipulate a platform, which he used to jump to where he needed to go next. Torres noted that this was an example of the better pacing they are implementing in the sequel, as the original mostly had the player running from room to room and slicing up enemies.
But that’s not all that can be manipulated—Starkiller can now use the Jedi Mind Trick to either make his enemies fight for him or leap into the abyss. Some enemies were more resilient, such as those with the ability to dodge Force powers, or the ones with Force-resistant shields that had to be taken care of. The latter was a boss fight in which the enemy shot carbonite, which the player can break out of and use against enemies. Starkiller finished him off by slicing off the arm that shot the carbonite and turning it against its sender.
One particularly funny thing that happened in our demo related to the physics engine. Even during scripted sequences, the physics system is still in effect and any bodies or objects are right where the player left them. This led to a humorous cutscene where a group of stormtroopers rushed in through a door only to trip over their fallen comrades.
Using a Force-altered tower as a bridge to the next platform, Torres encountered two AT-ST walkers, which would have been a problem for most people. Thankfully, Starkiller is not most people, and all it took was a simple use of his new Force Crush power to pound one into a scrap heap before pummelling the other with it.
Cue the end-level cutscene, in which Vader enters the scene just as Starkiller steals his former master’s ship and flies away (man, Vader must get sick of that happening). Vader probably isn’t as worried as you would think, though, because the final shot shows him standing in a room-full of nearly-finished Starkiller clones.
As huge Star Wars fans, we came away suitably impressed by what we saw of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, and we can’t wait to find out what Vader needed to bring Starkiller back for, and if he is indeed a clone. We won’t have to wait too long, as Mr. Torres confirmed for VGChartz that Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 will launch on Xbox 360, Wii, PS3, PC, and DS on October 26, 2010.