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Starkiller

That Luke Skywalker was such a pansy.

I mean, did he ever chop off a stormtrooper's head by flinging dual lightsabers across a landing platform? No. How about using his mind to tell an enemy to leap into a deadly force field? Don't think so. Reducing an entire squad of soldiers to dust with bolts of lightning? Definitely not.

I did all that and much more just playing through the demo of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2, which is available now on PSN and Xbox Live. And while the game still feels like "God of War: Jedi Edition," I can't help but enjoy the wanton destruction. If Kratos was a Jedi, this is the game he'd star in.

 

You start The Force Unleashed 2…well, in a leash (shackles, to be precise, but you get the idea). You're taking the role of a clone of Starkiller, Darth Vader's secret apprentice from the first game. Imbued with the fighting abilities of your genetic sire, you're put through some basic combat paces at Vader's instruction. Fighting boils down to hammering one button for a series of balletic lightsaber slashes, while other face buttons control jumps and force powers. Chain these together and you'll get even stronger attacks.

However, while you've got all of Starkiller's moves, you also have his memories — including his feelings for love interest Juno Eclipse. As you fight, Vader presents you with a holographic image of Juno, and your clone Jedi is unable to bring himself to harm her. Vader declares you a failure and is about to deliver a killing blow, but your clone Starkiller escapes with a quick leap out the window.

Free fall

This begins a free-fall section as you dodge platforms and TIE Fighter fire, blasting away at obstacles with force pushes before landing dramatically (and somehow alive, after a fall of thousands of feet) with a thunderous impact. Seriously, Luke would have been a splatter on the pavement.

From here, the rest of the demo contains a mix of combat (with prompts to use specific powers) and force-grabbing objects to destroy obstacles. The grab mechanic is greatly improved from the first game — you can fling crates, enemies, and even TIE Fighters with precision. I had to wrestle with the camera a bit, and the lock-on function isn't all that useful, but I was too busy slicing up fools to care.

Fools be gettin sliced

Like Kratos, Starkiller doesn't really care about collateral damage. No Knights of the Old Republic-style morality meter here — you can kill anything that moves, and destroy a lot of stuff that doesn't (gaining glowy health and experience orbs in the process). You can use these points to upgrade your various techniques; the demo didn't provide me with enough experience to amp up my saber throwing, but that would have been my first choice.

Of the force powers, I most enjoyed the Mind Trick ability, which leads weak-minded enemies to open fire at their comrades or hurl themselves off ledges to their doom. But you've got such an arsenal of attacks at your command that you'll rarely have to break stride as you hack, slash, zap, push, and grab. The Ghost of Sparta would approve.

The demo concludes with a prompt to enter Force Fury, an exact analogue of Kratos' Rage of the Gods (you even click both sticks to activate it). Thusly juiced, your clone can release sheets of pure malevolent lightning, incinerating enemies where they stand. Mass murder isn't in the Jedi Code as far as I know, but Starkiller's clone doesn't seem to have a problem with it.

Scout walkers

So, yes: The Force Unleashed 2 is, even more than its predecessor, pretty much a re-skinned God of War set in a galaxy far, far away. But derivative though it may be, I had to grin as I blasted my way through the demo. No, it's not very Jedi-like to slay hundreds of stormtroopers in a myriad of ways. Luke, Yoda, Obi-Wan…they'd all disapprove. But the days of the original Star Wars trilogy, full of austerity and zen, are gone. The new Star Wars universe is here to stay — so you might as well help blow it up.