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Preview: The Force Unleashed 2 at Comic-Con


During the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 Comic-Con panel, LucasArts producer Haden Blackman led a gameplay preview for the assembled crowd, showing off some new elements of the sequel which again stars fallen Vader apprentice Starkiller. The demonstration built on last month's E3 preview, with plenty more scenes of messy Stormtrooper cleanup -- it's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

As he showed troopers sliced, diced and Forcefully obliterated, Blackman noted that the development team has worked to diversify enemy AI. Player feedback from the first game criticized the different types of enemies for all acting the same, so LucasArts has created separate AI behavior for almost all of the enemies in the sequel. Of course, this also goes for the new enemies, of which Blackman introduced a giant walker equipped with a shield and a Carbonite gun. To defeat the menace, Starkiller must first use his Force power to rip off the shield, and then take on the vulnerable walker while dodging its freeze ray blasts.

Gallery: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 | 11 Photos

Blackman also showed off the beefed-up Jumptroopers. While they've been made into more formidable grunts, they're now susceptible to Force Lighting, which makes their jet packs go haywire. The crowd was audibly giddy when Blackman demonstrated the effect, with the zapped Jumptrooper flipping around uncontrollably before taking a violent plunge to his death. The new "Jedi Mind Trick" power also proved to be a crowd pleaser, as Starkiller pitted enemies against each other and forced others to run into the nearest cannons and explode.

"Our Empire Strikes Back." - Haden Blackman, producer

According to Blackman, the team at LucasArts was ultimately pleased with how it had integrated Force powers into the combat of the first game (and the sequel looks to follow suit), but felt that it had fallen short when it came to the mediocre environmental puzzles. In Force Unleashed 2, the developers are making a concerted effort to bring a deeper puzzle-solving element into the Force-powered gameplay. These potential brainteasers, which might bring a thinking pause to parts of the game, will be balanced by flat-out "run for your life" segments. Blackman showed a scene in which the game camera turned on Starkiller and lead him sprinting down a hallway as a Star Destroyer chased after him, blowing up the path behind him.

Blackman called the game sequel "our Empire Strikes Back," noting that the tone will be darker than in the first Force Unleashed and, like Luke in The Empire Strikes Back, Starkiller will be searching for the answers to his true identity and origin. Starkiller's mastery of the Force will grow too, as he channels the new "Force Fury" ability (a temporary, Rage of the Titans–like powers boost). He'll also wield dual lightsabers, and Blackman revealed the return of hidden and collectible lightsaber crystals (including the popular black crystal), which augment your weapon.

Blackman rolled a short cinematic from the game that teased a guest appearance from none other than Boba Fett. The famed bounty hunter is assigned by Vader to hunt down Starkiller and, in the short clip, Fett asks Vader for "a whole squadron of Stormtroopers -- they won't be coming back." Vader promises to lend whatever support is needed, and as a gigantic robot leg mysteriously appears in the foreground, Fett replies, "That'll do."

Of course, the Comic-Con panel would not be complete without Blackman dangling one last, suggestive morsel before the crowd: He promised that the ending of Force Unleashed 2 would cause Star Wars fans to "look at the original trilogy in a new way." While potentially worrying -- let's not go crazy with the retconning, guys -- it's tempting bait to hook us into Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 when it arrives on October 26.

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