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Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 preview: Force Majeure


Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 is little over a month from launch and during my time playing it here at PAX, it was pretty obvious how far along the game has come. LucasArts has shown the same area of the game both at E3 and Comic-Con, but now it's been fleshed out and, more importantly, we were finally able to play it.

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

The sequel stars the clone of Starkiller. Vader's looking to improve on what he sees were the faults of the first Starkiller: his emotions. So within this framework, we were thrust into a tutorial level where we had to hack down robots posing as Rebels and Starkiller's love interest from the first game, Juno Eclipse. This was the vehicle for reclaiming the memories of his predecessor and, more importantly, the Force powers of Starkiller The First.

But once Starkiller 2 refuses to kill what he suspects is the real Juno (it was another bot!), he sees the future: Vader will kill him, just as he has killed the clones who came before him and failed Vader's test. In a panic, he hits Vader with some Force Lightning and dives out of a window in the hopes of escaping his own doom.

From here on, the demo was entirely playable. Free-falling through the rain, I Force Pushed through objects and platforms and kept falling until I eventually crashed through an ornate glass ceiling. For a clone, dude's pretty tough -- I found out that, at least in the demo here, he's basically untouchable.

Having access to almost all of Starkiller's powers from the first game -- plus a new "Jedi Mind Trick" ability that would make Stormtroopers dive out of windows and fight each other -- there weren't many situations where I truly felt in danger. My first few skirmishes with squadrons of Stormtroopers went by without a hitch, thanks to Starkiller's dual lightsabers. By sprinkling the Y button in my melee combos, I could infuse those lightsabers with my Force Lightning. It isn't anything new, but with the dual lightsabers, the attack had a much wider area of effect and turned out to be incredibly useful.

I also fought some of those large robots sporting a massive shield and Carbonite gun -- the same enemy type revealed at Comic-Con. Using the Force, I had to wrestle its massive shield away before I could open it up to attack. However, its Carbonite gun was a formidable weapon, capable of freezing me in my tracks. So I kept my distance and as it lobbed large concentrated balls of Carbonite at me, I grabbed them with the Force and tossed them back at the bot, freezing it momentarily. Once beaten down enough, a quick, two-button QTE rendered it a pile of junk.

After facing that thing, I made my way through a couple more encounters with generic Stormtroopers before I came upon a Tie Fighter off in the distance; my means of escape. However, guarding it were three AT-ATs, so using the Force, I had to grab other attacking Tie Fighters out of the sky and toss them into an adjacent, tower-like structure. After hitting it with a few ships, it collapses, simultaneously creating a bridge for me to access my potential getaway vehicle and crushing one of the AT-ATs. But there were still two to take care of.

Enter: Force Frenzy. This is both an invincibility buff and Force magnifier, upping the power of all of Starkiller's abilities and creating an impregnable shield of Force around him. I dashed in immediately, putting saber to metal and shocking the walkers with beefed up Force Lightning. With this engaged, I made short work of what were tougher adversaries previously.

Walking away from the demo, I was surprised at the 180 the sequel pulled. In the first game, it was only in the last moments of the game we were able to experience the full wrath of Starkiller, but here, in the beginning, his clone was much stronger than he had ever been and far more fun to use. It was a welcome change -- while I never felt like I was in danger of dying in the demo, it was a small price to pay for rewarding combat and feeling like a truly powerful wielder of the Force. I plucked Tie Fighters from the sky like apples from a tree, I threw clusters of Stormtroopers into the sky and watched them fall to their doom with reckless abandon and felt like an incredibly being. And that's all I've ever wanted.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out the first game's two most fatal flaws: the camera and targeting system. Both felt improved: the camera is zoomed out further, providing a better view of the action going on and images that are highlighted now have a brighter band around them and are displayed far more predominantly. Still no reticle, but precisely targeting images and enemies and interacting with them was leaps and bounds better than in the first game.

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