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Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast review

There was a time when Lucasarts couldn't go wrong, when pretty much everything they released was given plenty of excellent reviews/awards. Those were the good old days; there was the excellent Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight and some great Star Wars combat space simulators. Things have went badly downhill since then and more than likely for this reason Lucasarts awarded Raven Software with the task of creating Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, though somewhat oddly titled, Raven hit it big this time with a Star Wars game, with plenty of previous experience on First Person Shooter games including Soldier of Fortune, ST Voyager Elite Force, Hexen and Heretic series.

 

The Storyline

I won’t go deep into details however the storyline is actually pretty good in Jedi Outcast, though it still does suffer from a few faults; these faults however are more based on what can be interpreted from the films than anything else. Your main motive for returning to being a Jedi is that of revenge, not exactly a Jedi trait (and which is why it’s called Return Of The Jedi, not Revenge Of The Jedi) so it’s hard to swallow when Luke gives you the okay to carry on. Similarly the kind of love theme/kiss between Jan Ors & Kyle may seem well out of line after a viewing of Attack of the Clones.

The storyline itself gets progressed along with cut scenes consisting of both pre-rendered movies & scenes rendered using the in-game engine.

Other than the “interpretational” issues, the plot of the game is fairly enjoyable and comes to an agreeable enough conclusion compared to, say, Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault (No, I can’t believe how they ended that game either).

 

The Enemies

The enemies you’ll be faced against in the game are all standard Star Wars bad guys – Storm Troopers, Imperial Officers, Rodians… You get the idea. This is until several levels into the game where you meet a real threat – Reborn, then later on Shadow Troopers who get Lightsabers and some Force powers, these guys are what really makes Jedi Outcast into a much more enjoyable game and pretty much can only be defeated by using your Lightsaber (they can also deflect most weapon fire).

This definitely sets it apart from Dark Forces 2, where the Lightsaber could be dispensed with for the most part except fighting the Dark Jedi.

The enemies’ AI is decent enough however nothing particularly outstanding and disappointingly enough once you’ve got your Lightsaber after a couple more levels the only real challenge you will get is against the Reborn/Shadow Troopers. Again this sets it apart from Dark Forces 2, in that the Lightsaber wasn’t too great a weapon, or at least you’re likely to use conventional weaponry a good deal during levels, it also wasn’t too great at deflecting weapon fire, unlike it is now in Jedi Outcast.

 

Level Design/Gameplay

For the most part, levels used in the game take a good deal of inspiration from the films and as you progress through the game you’ll find yourself in some familiar looking locations, not being a huge Star Wars fan by any means (particularly after the appalling Episode I) I can’t really name them, but I just know I’ve seen them before.

Locations in the game will take you from an “abandoned” outpost, to Yavin 4, Nar Shadaa, Bespin and other places of interest. Much like Dark Forces 2 before, Jedi Outcast makes good use of wide open spaces through the game and you will find it hard to believe at times that this is the same old Quake 3 engine.

In the other hand, most of the progression through levels relies on rather old-style puzzles, which is disappointing indeed. Jedi Outcast is one of the first Games in a long time where I’ve needed to consult a walkthrough guide for tips on how to progress at certain points. Perhaps I just need to play more Tomb Raider or something. The final level in particular is very ‘Tomb Raideresque’, with elements that seem completely out of place for “where” you are meant to be.

Other than the dated style of puzzles the levels are pretty good generally, though not as enjoyable perhaps as those seen in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault.

For the first several levels Jedi Outcast plays out like basically any other FPS game you can care to think of. Your basic run, shoot, press buttons type of Gameplay. Once you get the Lightsaber however it adds a new element to the game – that being hand-to-hand combats against other Lightsaber wielding foe. This is particularly excellent as these fights are rather dangerous to yourself and regardless of how well you can cut through Storm Troopers or other guys, Reborn/Shadow Troopers can easily take you down with their own Lightsaber if you’re not careful. Like in the films, lightsabers can get locked and you’ll pound away at the fire button as you try to win the lock and leave the opponent momentarily defense-less.

Levels themselves have a good deal of Tomb Raider elements to them, more so as your force powers increase & you’ll see yourself doing a good deal of ledge jumping with Force jump.

There are also a few novelty levels/scenes in the Game, e.g. loss of gravity in one scene or protecting a droid from being destroyed. At one point you can even hop into an AT-ST walker and see how the Imperials like to be used against them as you stomp through the level.

Other than the excellent addition of the Lightsaber (& Force powers too) though the gameplay isn’t anything much more than what you’ll have already experienced in several other FPS games or Tomb Raider.

 



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