The last Star Wars game I played was Dark Forces for the PS1. I don't know if any of you have ever played that title, but it was one of the most horrid gaming experiences I've ever had. I think I quit after the 3rd level. That was about five years ago. Remembering that experience still makes me cringe, however, the other day I thought to myself ''Maybe I should give Star Wars another chance''. So, on my trip to Software etc. I picked up a copy of Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast.
I read a little bit about it on the internet when I got home, and discovered that it was a part of the same series which contained the dreaded Dark Forces of days gone by. Memories of controls that felt like wallowing through a swamp full of molasses and the most scraggly graphics I've ever seen came floating back into my head. I became nervous, wondering if I had just spent fifty bucks on a piece of trash. A few minutes into the game I wiped nervous sweat from my brow and realized that it all was going to be okay. The controls were tight, the graphics were crisp, and there was intense Star Wars flava oozing out everywhere.
GRAPHICS (8/10) I'm not completely sure about this, but I think Jedi Knight II is pretty much a direct port of a PC game with good but not flashy graphics. While the graphics are smooth and crisp, they could've been pushed quite a bit further with the power of the Xbox. The Force effects look cool, but could've been cooler.
The huge levels look great. You really feel like you're like you're inside an Imperial installation, or a mining colony, or a futuristic city, or a starship right out of Star Wars. The blaster fire and lightsabers look good, which is extremely crucial to any Star Wars game.
The main graphical drawbacks are that quite a few of the textures in the many environments are kind of drab and boring. Also, the FMV's that move the story along are of very bad quality.
The characters only look alright. They could've been a bit bigger, and a bit more detailed. Though I suppose it's not necessary that every storm trooper is excruciatingly detailed- you'll be mowing through th em too quickly to get a very good look, anyway. There are a few nifty little effects present. Whenever you go into the Speed mode (it's a Force power) the whole screen stretches and distorts, which looks cool. Also, whenever you lightsaber comes into contact with any surface in the game, it leaves a glowing orange trail, which is a nice touch. While not too spectacular, the graphics of Jedi Knight II are smooth and satisfying. The main focus is not on graphics, but on putting you into the shoes of a jedi knight. This is where the gameplay comes in.
GAMEPLAY (9/10) What makes a Jedi a Jedi? Basically it's a lightsaber and the ability to wield the Force. These two aspects are well implented in Jedi Knight II and make it the cool game that it is. However, when you start out, you're just plain old Kyle Katarn, no lightsaber, no Force powers. You'll have to make your way through the first 5 or so levels with nothing but blasters. After that, something happens. I'm not going to tell you exactly what it is, let's just say it involves women. It always invovles women. Then Kyle gets all pissed off and decides it's time to bring the old lightsaber out of retirement. This is where the game really starts getting fun.
You start out with 1 fighting stance (medium) and the ability to throw your lightsaber. Over the course of the game you will learn other fighting stances (fast and slow) and gain the ability to control your lightsaber as it flies through the air. Needless to say, sending your lightsaber spinning through an oncoming mob of storm troopers is good fun. Kyle has a variety of lightsaber moves. Which one you do depends on what stance you're in, which direction you're pushing on the thumbstick, and where the enemies are in relation to Kyle. The lightsaber will make quick work of most of the basic baddies in the game--you can deflect their blaster shots back at them (this skill also develops over time), and they generally go down in one slash. More challenge is added when you come into contact with the Force-imbued enemies that carry lightsabers. They don't go down so easily, sometimes you'll be dueling them for quite a while before they finally perish.
When you pull out your lightsaber the game switches from first to third person. If you're like me, you'll spend most of the time using your lightsaber/Force moves instead of just blasting the enemies. Therefore, you'll spend most of your time in 3rd person, which makes this more of an action/adventure game than a typical FPS.
Then there's the Force powers. They are as follows: Push and Pull, which allow you to push and pull characters or objects. Mind Trick, which allows you to confuse or distract enemies. Sometimes you can also get them to shoot eachother or open locked doors for you. Grip, the classic Darth Vader choke move. Lightning, exactly like the Emperor's ability to shoot electricity from his fingertips. Heal, which is self explanatory. Speed, which makes Kyle travel more quickly (he actually keeps moving the same speed on the screen, and everything else in the game slows down). Last but not least in the Jump ability, which allows Kyle to jump to incredible heights. As you progress through the game all of your Force moves will mature and become stronger.
These moves give you the ability to do everything any real Star Wars fan has ever dreamed of. You'll be able to lift a guy off the ground and crush his throat, using the Force. You'll be able to walk into a room full of storm troopers and throw them all to the floor simply by raising your hand a bit. You'll be deflecting blaster shots right back into people's faces like Luke Skywalker himself. Frying people with sizzling bolts of electricity. Being a jedi knight is very cool.
The enemy A.I. is good at times, and bad at times. Sometimes the storm troopers will retreat and regroup like real humans would. Somtimes they'll run right past you and do nothing. In either case, it doesn't make too much of a difference, because no matter what they do, they'll surely be dead pretty quickly.
The thing that bothers me about the gameplay is how often you'll find yourself scouring an area for a way to open a certain door. This IS a necessary part of any game like this, but in Jedi Knight II it seems like you spend a hell of a lot of time doing it. I did anyway. Maybe you people won't be as inept as me, and will just find things quickly and easily.
SOUND (9/10) Everything sounds very Star Wars. From blasters shooting and lightsabers extending to the voice of Lando Calrissian, everything is right on. The music is pure Star Wars, all the way through. Nothing to complain about here.
OVERALL (9/10) Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is the biggest, most epic, immersive Star Wars title out there. From the Force powers to the awesome Star Wars soundtrack, you'll feel like you're playing through an actual Star Wars film, except it's quite a bit longer than two hours. It takes place over 25 gigantic levels, is rather difficult, and will take quite a while to beat. This is nice to see, in these days of pretty looking games that are terribly short and simple. While the graphics aren't too flashy, the gameplay is rock solid and fun. The game truly does put in you in the boots of a jedi knight, and damn, they sure are some cool boots. If you're a Star Wars fan looking for the ultimate Star Wars gaming experience, this is it.
Community review by goatx3 (November 29, 2002)
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