While we've already seen that Darth Vader will be making his return in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, it turns out that Jedi clone Starkiller has a lot more to deal with than just the dark lord himself. LucasArts is bringing some of most beloved characters from Star Wars to the Force Unleashed universe, creating a sprawling narrative that aims to please fans and newcomers alike. Check out the video interview below for the lowdown on the new characters from assistant producer Cameron Suey and lead sound designer David Collins and then read on for our full impressions.
The Force Unleashed II picks up directly from the canonical ending of its predecessor, where Starkiller betrays Vader and attempts to take on Emperor Palpatine. Following his eventual death, Vader creates a clone of Starkiller to be his new apprentice and imprisons him on the remote planet of Kamino. It's here that the game springs to life, with a dramatic cutscene showing Starkiller breaking out of captivity and onto the rain-soaked planet.
From there, Starkiller is pursued by Vader, which leads the reluctant apprentice on a journey around the galaxy. One of the locations he visits is Cato Neimoidia, a Neimoidian pulse world that houses a luxury resort and casino. LucasArts showed us a small section of the level in action, with Starkiller unleashing his Force powers on a group of missile-launching walkers. Using the Force, he was able to grab the missiles in midair, and after a brief quick-time event, he launched them back, turning the walker into a large heap of scrap metal.
Later, he finds General Kota, who has been imprisoned in a gladiatorial arena by the evil casino owner Baron Tarko. Starkiller tries to free the general by fighting through waves of enemies in the arena, only to come face-to-face with the baron's most gargantuan monster, the gorog. The creature forms one of the many boss battles you face as you progress and one of the largest. It resembles the ravenous rancor from Return of the Jedi, only much larger. The battle against it was a multistage affair, with the pair having to avoid the gorog's stink breath as it tore up the arena. It also picked up stormtroopers and threw them in the air; they were then used as projectiles and thrown back using Force powers. After a number of hits, the creature then unleashed its fists and began destroying the platforms the pair stood on, requiring some nimble jumping skills to avoid.
After defeating the gorog, the pair escaped in the Rogue Shadow, where Kota cast doubt on Darth Vader's story. He believes that Starkiller may not actually be a clone, causing the Jedi to question his own existence. This leads him to the Dagobah system where he meets the one and only Yoda. Though we weren't told exactly what part Yoda will play in the story, we were shown a short cutscene where the Jedi master directs Starkiller to the same cave of evil that Luke Skywalker visited in The Empire Strikes Back. Another character making his way into the story is the notorious bounty hunter Boba Fett. Though not much was revealed about his part in the story, we did learn that Vader hires him to help find Starkiller; thus, he becomes one of the main enemies you must battle. LucasArts was keen to point out that a lot of effort had been put into ensuring that characters did not seem shoehorned in and that the narrative paid close attention to the time period and the extended Star Wars story.
Though we weren't able to go hands-on with any of the newly revealed locales, we did get a chance to flex our Jedi muscle in the opening stages of the game on Camino. After the introductory cutscene, we had to guide Starkiller down a giant tower after leaping from the top. We could take out obstacles, such as ledges, using Force lightning and deflect laser fire using Force push. Once at the bottom, we had to make our way through the city, fighting off stormtroopers. This allowed us to check out the tweaks made to the targeting system, which was a major criticism of the original game. It will now be much easier to see what you're locked on to because items or enemies that you've targeted will be highlighted with a glowing blue halo. The targeting priority system has also been cleaned up, and though we still found it locking onto the wrong object at times, it felt much more accurate than in the original.
New Force powers have also been introduced, one of which is the Jedi mind trick. We had a blast tricking stormtroopers into flinging themselves out of windows or running directly into enemy fire. You can also have them fight for you, taking out enemies with their rifles. The dual lightsabers also proved to be fun, with some great animations and sound effects. Using the Force, we were able to fling the lightsabers through the air, lopping off the heads and limbs of a group of enemies in one swift attack. We also executed some devastating finishing moves, which took the form of a quick-time event and a brutal animation of Starkiller leaping onto a stormtrooper and plunging his lightsabers straight into his chest.
These animations are rendered with the same great-looking art style of its predecessor, which captures the feel of the franchise. Lightsabers cast an eerie glow on their surroundings, sparks fly off exploding battle droids, and Force lightening is as dramatic as in the movies. The environments also look good, with Cato Neimoidia's wide-open platform sections and vibrant orange sky looking particularly eye catching. With its art style, new Force powers, and improved targeting, the game is certainly looking promising. And with the addition of some classic characters, the story could be very interesting indeed. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is due out on October 29 in the UK and October 26 in the US. Keep reading GameSpot for more on the game soon.