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Why Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II’s Boss Fights Suck

Beware. There be spoilers.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II doesn’t have a ‘Star Destroyer’ moment. We can at least be thankful for that.

That event, which should have been the first game’s piece-de-resistance, was instead an infuriating struggle against poor game design decisions and on-screen prompts that didn’t actually prompt you in the right direction.

So yes, we can all be thankful that for the sequel LucasArts didn’t decide not to make its big moments terrible. Instead it’s made them long and boring. The Gorog battle, for instance.

It began so promisingly. Ready to face off against the Gorog, we were presented instead with a Rancor. “Ha!” we snorted, our haughty Star Wars geek side coming to the fore. “That’s a Rancor, not a Gorog!” Suddenly a huge hand reached from the depth of a pit, crushing the Rancor in the palm of its hand. This seven-story tall beast was to be our opponent, not the relatively miniscule Rancor. “Ok LucasArts,” we conceded. “You got us.”

Having played Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow recently we were primed for something great. An inventive boss fight that was half puzzle half combat experience; one that balanced spectacle with challenge. Instead we were delivered an unnecessarily protracted battle against an enemy that repeated attack patterns over and over, demanded we repeat the same processes against it several times to take it down, and found ourselves constantly coming up against invisible walls that often cost us a large chunk of our life bar. It was a loud, clumsy multi-stage boss battle that overstayed its welcome. Sure, the short set piece that followed was a little better, with Starkiller skydiving behind the monster in order to save General Kota, but it wasn’t enough to compensate for the ten minutes previous.

Remember. SPOILERS.

The game does it again, but to an even worse degree at the game’s conclusion. While the games lacklustre story does  its very best to generate tension up until its final act, it undoes what little there is of it with a drawn out platforming sequence that really doesn’t play to the game’s strengths. The following showdown between Vader and Starkiller makes even more mistakes than the Gorog face-off. Here’s there’s not even any spectacle – it’s just the same battle repeated for ten minutes. Hack at Vader, taking millimetres off his lifebar at a time; watch a cut scene in which Starkiller shouts “YOU LIE!” or something similarly petulant; and then do battle with a bunch of clones that appear to have been grown inside their tanks with their lightsabers. It’s not fun, it’s not enjoyable, and it’s not riveting. It’s a drag.

So yes, there’s no Star Destroyer moment – no event that infuriates you to the point of madness. There’s just several that bore you half to death instead. A lesson needs to be learnt here. Making a boss fight big and long does not a good boss fight make. it needs to be inventive, to challenge you in the right ways. It can’t just be ‘jump massive arm five times, dodge nasty breath four times, attack shackles’. They need to test your skills with the gameplay mechanics you’ve learnt thus far. Have a go on Vanquish. Every boss you fight in Shinji Mikami’s game changes in size, shape, power, speed – they keep you on your toes and demand that you’ve mastered the ARS’s abilities. The Force Unleashed II keeps you half asleep, asking only that you remember to hammer the attack button.

There’s something not quite right about The Force Unleashed II, though. Something went wrong during the development process. This isn’t the film industry – thanks to ever-evolving technology and developers’ better grasp of the hardware it’s a very rare thing for a videogame sequel to be worse than its predecessor. But here we have it. The Force Unleashed II is undoubtedly worse than the original. It’s shorter, less imaginative, more repetitive and more predictable.

But let’s look at the facts: 30% of LucasArts internal workforce cut. The games executive producer and writer Haden Blackman leaving the company months before TFUII went gold. TFU III reportedly cancelled. We don’t know the full story yet, and it’s likely we never will, but the feeling we get when playing TFU II is that somewhere along the line, something broke at LucasArts, and the negative effect it had on the game was irreversible.

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  • bobby brown

    come on george what happened? i spent the extra money on the collectors edition and felt cheated!!!!! what a let down!!! did they think the extra playable characters would make you suffer through this sorry excuse for a sequel AGAIN?!?!? i have lost faith in lucas arts!!!

  • Dave Moore

    i to spent 50 quid on this.its like nobody had any idea where to go with the story and decided to drag the game out with the infruiating boss battles.

  • Timothy B.

    I looked forward to this game and spent 60 bucks on it…what a rip-off!!!

    It was short and predictable.

    I was expecting a game like this would take me a few days to beat, but I finished it in 5 hours!!!

    This game is a big waste of money…what happened LucasArts…did someone get greedy???

  • I only died once against Vader in that game, and that was because I hung about too long fighting the clones and he destroyed the platform I was standing on. He himself wasn’t a threat at any stage.
    The only thing which consistently caused me grief was the Carbonite Droid. Which you never saw again after the first level.

  • Ian Dransfield

    I remember fighting about half a dozen Carbonite Droids, though I may be getting them mixed up with the flamethrowing ones they get replaced with.

    It’s good that all the enemies blend into one, right? No? Oh.

  • This game was a crazy letdown. I can’t believe just how hacked together and dull it is.

    Another note on the Gorog fight: I have a reproducible error where the movement of the camera actually *makes you stuck within nothingness*.

    Stay in the center of the area during the first fight. When he does a double fist slam, run toward one hand and then immediately toward the other. The camera will stay on the first hand, and you cannot see yourself until it figures out that you are at the other hand. When the camera starts to try to catch you, return to center. When the camera pulls back you are stuck in non-camera-area. You cannot move, and will die.

    I found that out twice while trying to just get the camera to stay on me…

  • … and should I mention the many times where the Gorog fails to hit you, yet you are flattened to the floor as if he did, but don’t lose hit points?

  • Chef dave

    I’m not even to my second boss battle and I’m taking it back… This is what I want Lucas: something that brings xbox’s Jedi Academy & KOTOR into one game on the ps3 platform. Do this, and bright will your future be…

  • ViscountValmont

    I bought and played it after work…. was at first okay with it. Though it was noticeably easier. I attributed this to it being the beginning of the game. Went to bed after what I thought was a few stages. Played it next night after work. Suddenly I realize I’m at the end of the game and nothing has happened. Where were all the awesome bosses similar to the first game? I was relatively enthralled by game play. This, I just suddenly woke up at the end wondering what happened. Huh?