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Old 10-28-2010, 11:10 PM   #1
Barachiel
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TFU2: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Wow, I'm not sure what to say. This game started off with a bang, slowly fizzled out, became tiresome, and then ended with an even bigger bang. I've literally gone from loving, to hating, to adoring this game over the course of its short campaign. Hell, I can't even tell you if the game being only 5-8 hours (depending on how good you are) is a bad thing or not! On the one hand, I want more! On the other, before the last act, I was sick and tired of the repetitive levels and enemies and wanted it to *end*.

The Story

First off, if you've seen the ads "Unleash Truth", know now that they are bald-faced lies. The mysteries of Starkiller's survival, and whether or not Vader is being truthful is touched upon in the first and last levels. Incidentally, these are also the best levels of the game. The rest of the story is broken into two parts "Rescue Kota" and "Rescue Juno." That's it. The interesting cutscenes are minimal (in fact if you beat the game, you'll find you've only unlocked maybe half the cinematics. The rest are sealed behind the Challenge Levels, so I have no idea if they're even relevant. I'm guessing not. In fact, nearly every cool CGI movie from the commercials? Not in the game, at least not as part of the main story. I *really* want to murder the marketing dept.)

Now pushing that aside, the story practically screams for more, and I don't just mean from the obvious "to be continued" ending the game gives. The story doesn't feel whole, and I can't explain why not. It has a beginning middle and end. It has climax and resolution. But it doesn't feel complete. The only comparison I can think of it, is it feels like one of those movie franchises, where the 2nd and 3rd acts are filmed at the same time, so they can be released back to back. And this is worrisome, as there is a persistent rumor going around since before the game's release that the TFU dev team has been fired, and TFU3 cancelled.

Now after all that bitching, I have to say, the finale of the game is *awesome.* I've read that some feel the final battle is a bit simplistic and repetitive (not entirely unfounded), but I still found it engaging.

The Gameplay

Same deal as the story. The gameplay is fun, slightly improved mechanically, and easy to get into. Unfortunately, the devs responded to complaints of too many enemies with the exact same AI, by greatly reducing the number of enemies and segregating the AI. All you will fight in this game are stormtroopers, sith agents, and imperial droids. Nothing else. And each will have their own special way of being killed. Stormtroopers? Do whatever. Sith Acolytes? Force powers are useless, use the saber. Sith Soldiers? Reverse that. Terror Troopers? Completely invulnerable till you hit them with force lightning to stun them, then you have to wail on them with saber combos. Terror droids? Repulse is the way. Other droids? each has their own trick. Once you figure it out, they'll never be a problem again, but until then, they're frustrating. And how does the game up the difficulty in later levels? By mixing and matching all the types so you have to deal with multiple different enemy types in a tightly confined area, meaning, you have to figure out which one is going to be the most annoying about interrupting your combos, kill them first, and quickly move down the Priority List before the cheap shots kill you.

On the upshot, you're even more of a Force God than before, and where the game truly shines is when it deviates from killing hordes of troops and goes for the really cool "free fall" experiences. No spoilers, you'll just have to see them to believe them. Oh, and if you thought Starkiller was a cheesy bastard in the first game, you won't believe what he can do in this one. Crush TIEs like eggs? FIRST STAGE, BABY! It only gets better.

The Levels

Good news, the levels are GORGEOUS!!!! Bad news, out of 9 stages, there are only three different locales. You spend at least two levels in each location, and thus, by the second level, you'll start to get tired of it. For those that have three levels, you'll be sick of the damn place. TF1's first few levels may have been grating, but the later levels were a lot of fun, even those that recycled where you'd been earlier. This is the opposite. You'll start out with your breath taken away, and by the sixth engine room or cloning chamber, you'll be as bored as a kid watching vacation slides.

Overall

The thought that kept picking away at me the entire time i was finishing the game was, it ends exactly where it began. The scenes with Kota aside, you could rip out the entire middle 2/3rds of this game, and not miss a thing. The appearance of Yoda and Boba Fett are mere cameos (though promises of more to come in a sequel are made). You end the first level fleeing Vader and Kamino... only to back to Kamino and face Vader. I guess this is why the story feels so incomplete. Skipping the long drawn out middle, the game hits an amazing climax, then just ends with a "to be continued" of sorts. (and believe me, it *will* have to be. If TFU3 is cancelled, i expect a novel finishing the series off in the next year or so. The ending simply can't stand as it is.) Think of it like this, the second acts are usually somber affairs, if dark. TFU 2 ends (if you go light side) with almost total triumph. It's a complete reversal of the downer ending of TFU1, and quite frankly, to my genre-savvy mind, means that TFU3 will probably be darker than dark.

I was ready to give this game 2 out of 5 stars till the finale kicked the game into overdrive. With that in mind, I've decided to go with 2.5 out of 5. It's a decent game, and worth playing through, but unless DLC or another sequel comes, i doubt I'll ever play it again.
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