PAX 2010: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 Hands-On Preview

It was a Star Warzy weekend at PAX. We hit the SW: The Old Republic panel (and we shot a video of the whole thing), we saw an extended live demo of Force Unleashed 2, and then on the final day of PAX we got to play through a Force Unleashed 2 demo on the show floor. If you’re jealous, don’t be. We’re pretty sure the demo we played is the same demo being released to the public sometime before its October 26, 2010 release.

So, here’s the deal. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 features more extreme, intensified action than the original. The Force is practically bursting out of Starkiller this time. An example: in the first game you could use The Force to hurl objects at Tie Fighters. In Force Unleashed 2, you can rip Tie Fighters out of the sky and hurl throw them around like toys.

At the beginning of the demo, Darth Vader is very displeased with clone-Starkiller (yeah, he’s a clone in Force Unleashed 2). See, he retains the memories of the real Starkiller, particularly of his love Juno. Vader considers him damaged goods, and when he reveals his intention to kill him, Starkiller bolts and jumps out of the tower.

What happens here is a God of War 3-like action sequence, in which Starkiller falls face first thousands of feet from the tower, and you have to dodge Tie Fights, pillars, etc. until you land.

It seems you caused a ruckus doing all of that. The whole base is on alert now, and you’ll need to fight off Stormtroopers and some entirely new enemies as well (more on those later).

Like we saw in the panel demonstration, combat in Force Unleashed is slightly revamped. The core buttons are the same: B = Force Push, Y = Lightning, A = Jump, X = Saber. What’s different is you’ll be dual wielding two lightsabers at once. Sweet. Because of this, the combos feel a little more fluid and acrobatic than the first game. Starkiller is like the Jedi version of a baton twirler. That may sound lame, but trust me it isn’t when the batons are lightsabers.

There’s an entirely new move in Force Unleashed 2, which allows you to confuse enemies with the power of the force. Hold LT, and push Y to trigger this. It will cause troopers to go into a frenzy, run into walls, fire at enemies, jump out of windows and generally self destruct. It’s awesome.

The enemies have gotten tougher in Force Unleashed 2 as well. Riot Troops wield these powerful staffs that can go toe to toe with a lightsaber. You’ll need to catch them off guard with either a force push or some lightning. Additionally, Jump Troops are equipped with jet packs and will attack from above. They can evade many ranged attacks.

The biggest, baddest new enemy we encountered was a large mech-looking thing called a Carbonite War Droid. It shoots carbonite–the stuff that froze Han Solo–out of a gun at you, which can one-hit-kill you if you’re not careful. You can use RT to pull its shield away, and then go in for the kill. Since its a bigger enemy, you can trigger a “finishing move” when it becomes weak, freezing it in carbonite and shattering it.

Perhaps the most significant change to the combat is the Force Fury system. As you land combos and kill enemies, you’ll charge the Force Fury meter. When it fills, click RS and LS simultaneously, and get ready for the craziest Force sh#$ you’ve ever seen. Starkiller turns into a berserk demon of the Force. Every attack you do in this mode is ultra powerful, and insane looking. You’ll throw both lightsabers in circles around you, while lightning engulfs everything around you in a storm. It’s crazy.

Based on what we’ve seen so far, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 is a fun sequel to a solid action game. It retains the core, but adds more exaggerated Force abilities and saber moves.

We won’t have to wait too long for the final game. Force Unleashed 2 is due out October 25, 2010 on practically every platform.

See how the retail release lives up to our preview by checking out our Force Unleashed II review.

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