Previews

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed 2 gameplay preview

Hands-on: We begin our stand-off with Messrs. Fett and Vader...

It's funny, really. When you think about it - really think about it - couldn't we all be clones? You know, reflections of our similar selves - carbon copies of parallel existences to which we'll never be enlightened?

Of course we couldn't, you mug. For starters, there's your wonky eye and jungly chest rug - idiosyncratic imperfections if ever there were some. Then there's the fact that it's not scientifically possible in this or any dimension. Stop daydreaming. You got candy-floss for brains or something?

Forgive us for our pigheadedness. We're just taking our cue from a man who has far better reason to consider such existential contemplations - The Force Unleashed's Starkiller. Left for dead in LucasArts' first game, it's something of a shock to see the buzz-cut grump alive and well at the opening of our sneak preview of its sequel.

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We say 'well'; more imprisoned in the lightless Hades of Darth Vader's grim Kamino cloning facility. But, you know, at least he's breathing.

Vader's quick-fire explanation for Starkiller's continued existence is simple enough - he cloned him after seeing him finished off last time round. Darth wants him to grow up all evil, see, and use his memories (from a past life, yadda yadda) for do-badding. ('Destroy what you loved' and all that gubbins).

The be-helmeted nemesis claims that there have been a number of copycat Starkillers that preceded the grubby experiment before him - but that each of them have lost their minds... and their heartbeats.

Only problem is, this Starkiller's got odd feelings in his bones, too - like a bizarre inability to do even pretend harm to former lover Juno Eclipse. He can smell burning forests and hear a woman's voice. He's either deeply troubled, or plain mental.

Like a gargantuan hangover, he might not be able to fit the pieces together - but he knows something's up. This irks our dark lord somewhat, but has an even more profound effect on his artificial protégée.

Having been terrorised by a flashback of Vader striking him down, Starky (it's the second game, we've known him long enough for nicknames) explosively escapes his former master's clutches - and vows to track down his once-beloved. It's at this stage in proceedings we get hands on with the conversation-shy hero, and it's quite the change from FU1.

Having torn a hole through Vader's quarters (one forgets how downright cool Force powers are), we leap into our escape route - straight down the windswept shaft of the cloning facility.

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Hurtling towards our escape, we toss out wing-bending force to any TIE Fighter that dare cross our path, whilst smartly avoiding obstacles strewn in our way. It's one man versus many machines - and whizzes by at a rate of knots. It's also fantastic fun - if a bit elementary.

Departure achieved, Starky makes his way to Dagobah, to meet up with old wrinkly eyes himself. Correct, you are - that means Yoda's in on the game. A bit of green-fingered-training-slash-soul-searching in the Cave Of Evil later, and you visualise Juno. She's stuck on some Rebel outpost with your old mucker Proxy - and it's time to go and ask her some very telling questions.

Only problem is, Vader knows exactly where you'll be heading - and has just the man for the job on speed-dial. When the camera pans up to reveal Boba Fett's emotionless visage fixed eye-to-eye (slit-to-slit) with the Sith Lord, we know we're in for a treat.

Rain shatters down on Darth's glistening dome (*snigger*) as he and Fett share malevolent nods and clipped anticipation on a blustery, inhospitable ledge of the cloning compound. "Find me the woman," Vader barks. She has a name, you brute.

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