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Force Unleashed 2: 'Gaming's Empire Strikes Back'

We talk Vader, Fett and Yoda with LucasArts...

2008's The Force Unleashed was one of the most impressive Star Wars gaming tie-ins in recent memory.

It introduced us to Starkiller - possibly the coolest protagonist since Skywalker - and, of course, it gave Darth Vader a starring role.

Vader is back in the sequel - released on 360, PS3 and Wii next week - alongside notable cameos from Boba Fett and Yoda.

We were left pretty impressed after our play-through earlier this year, but how does the sequel improve on the original game? And who's it made for?

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We caught up with LucasArts' producer Cameron Suey to get the story behind Starkiller's return...

The story of the first Force Unleashed was pretty well praised - winning an Academy of Interactive Arts award. Did the team feel the pressure to better it this time round?

Absolutely. One of our goals was to take the things that we did well and amp them up - and of course take the things we didn't so well and bring those up to the same level.

Story was one of the first things we thought about. We went through a whole different bunch of ideas - including brand new characters - but we just kept coming back to Starkiller, and how much we liked not only working with that character but also working with that actor - Sam Witwer. He brings so much to that role.

The fact that he was dead at the end of the first game was one of the main barriers to us doing that - obviously! But Hayden Blackman, who wrote the first story, also wrote this story. In fact, almost all the same guys who wrote Force Unleashed 1 - myself, John Stafford, Hayden Blackman - we're all working on the second one. Once Hayden came up with the idea of [Starkiller as] a damaged clone who had these fragmented memories, everything else started to fall into place. It was about this quest for Juno [Eclipse]. We really looked at Empire Strikes Back as the model - we wanted gaming's answer to that. That was a darker and more personal story - and so is this.

There is a real connection between Luke's tension [in Empire Strikes Back] - doing what is right by finishing his training or going after his friends - and Starkiller's tension - helping the rebellion and pursuing his own ends. There was so much in Empire Strikes Back we liked, and that helped create a darker, more personal second chapter for Force Unleashed II.

Do you think that the cameos from Fett and Yoda will attract Star Wars fans who didn't pick up on the first game into this one?

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That's the great thing about Star Wars, there is such universality to it. People know these characters. New chapters are connected to old chapters. You have such a great foundation to build on; you already have this connection to it.

We always really wanted to get characters from the original movies into The Force Unleashed but it never felt right. We didn't want to shoehorn them in - you know, just have them pass by in the background and wave.

So I think it's not only the fact that they're there this time, but also that they're integral to the storyline. It feels true to the character and universe. We definitely hope that factor brings people in.

Are there any other games on the market that you've taken inspiration from this time round?

So it's funny - the more I work on games, the less I get to play games, unfortunately. Certainly, there are a wide array of influences. I even heard the guys working on the challenge mode - which can get really tricky - talking about... Demon's Souls, and that sort of punishing difficulty where you are at fault for [your mistakes]. That feeling of accomplishment - it's also similar to old 8-bit games.

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