Platform: PC

Genre: Shooter

Publisher: LucasArts

Developer: Raven

ESRB: T (Teen)

Released: April 2002

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Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

Score: 9.2 / 10

 

Pros

- A worthy sequel to Jedi Knight

- Stays true to the Star Wars mythos while creating new ones

- Looks and sounds great

- Many hours of game play

- Enjoyable multiplayer

- New curse word: “Sithspit”

 

 

Cons:

- Some puzzles slow down the pace of the game

- Takes a while to start firing on all pistons

 

 

Related Links:

Review: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (Gamecube)

Review: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (XBox)

Review: Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (Gamecube)

 

"Why doesn’t Kyle Katarn have his own action figure?"

 

Why doesn’t Kyle Katarn have his own action figure?  Featured in three major Star Wars games – the latest Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast – the lack of action figure is unbelievable considering that the requirements to become a Star Wars action figure are so low.  Three seconds scuttling across the background of a minor scene is all it takes, so why doesn’t Katarn get the plastic treatment.  It’s an outrageous travesty!

 

On with the review…

 

Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (JKII) once again puts gamers in control of Kyle Katarn who has forsaken his Jedi destiny and is working freelance as an Alliance trouble-shooter and spy.  We join him just as he’s sent on a seemingly routine mission after being notified of a Remnant (i.e. Imperial) message with a reference the Valley of the Jedi, where the climax of the previous game took place.  Of course, as things usually do, everything goes to hell as Kyle unearths a Remnant plot and the involvement of a renegade Jedi named Dessan.  A turning point later and Kyle decides he must reclaim his lightsaber from Luke Skywalker (who has taken it upon himself to train Jedi on a familiar moon from Episode IV) and relearn his force powers to confront Dessan and save the galaxy.

 

jedi-knight-ii-1.jpg (13583 bytes)          jedi-knight-ii-2.jpg (18733 bytes)

 

Most elements of the story will be instantly recognizable but some like the Jedi Academy will be new to those that haven’t read the latest books.  Not having indulged in the books to any great extent – I read Timothy Zahn’s three-book cycle – but I was still able to keep up with everything.

 

The missions are story driven and are very linear for the most part.  Strangely enough it’s not until about mission 3 that game play really starts to pick up.  Although the first two missions are designed very well and offer their own challenges – you’ll actually have to take a few notes – it’s not until the 3rd mission that JKII hits it’s stride.  The part that did it for me was running down a canyon filled with Stormtroopers and a few AT-STs while two massive ion cannons fire from an overhead ridge and X-Wings and Tie-Fighters are swooping over the canyon.  The scene is chaos but it’s damn fun – especially manning one of the turrets on the ridge above and wiping out the AT-STs and Stormtroopers.  Not everything comes off so well, but the level design and the mission objectives are very good for the most part. (Another early highlight is taking control of a “mouse” droid to access a room and unlock it from the inside.)

 

 

Part of the games challenge is the AI.  Enemies take cover, wait to the side of doors for you to enter a room, or attack en masse (the main culprit being JKII’s version of Half-Life’s head-crab) to bring you down.  Depending on the difficulty you pick at the start of the game, you could be in for a frustrating experience.  On higher levels, Stormtroopers are practically god-like and you’ll really have to pay attention to what’s happening around you.  There are a few places where hearing a door open should put you on alert as the door is usually behind you – and that door usually spews three or four enemies, all of them with a clear shot at your back. (Using Force Speed – slowing everyone else down – comes in very handy.)

 

jedi-knight-ii-3.jpg (11600 bytes)          jedi-knight-ii-4.jpg (11415 bytes)

 

Weapon variety is as solid as ever, but once you have that cool blade of death you cringe every time you have to switch to a gun.  The familiar weapons return – thermal detonator, Wookie bowcaster, etc. – but there are a few new ones, including the handy trip mine.  And never overlook the many Force powers available. (Like the first game, you can choose the light or dark sides of the Force and increase your proficiency in selected powers.)  In some areas, they’re the only way to go.  (Get ready for some intense Jedi combat – and to master the art of the Quickload.)

 

Managing all this action is easy because the controls are solid (and easy to remap if you so desire).  It’s the familiar keyboard/mouse combination with the bulk of options on the keyboard and secondary fire handled by the mouse.  The Force powers are handled better than the previous games, especially Force Jump.  Mastering the lightsaber moves can be tricky but its implementation is also very familiar (but not as organic as Obi-Wan for Xbox).

 

Having a complete understanding of controls is absolutely necessary if you hope to dominate (or even provide a challenge) during multiplayer.  There are a few different modes -- Lightsaber Duel, Capture the Flag and Capture the Ysalamiri -- and they’re all fun to varying degrees, but if you’re into single-player exclusively you won’t be disappointed with the solo campaign. (And watch out for the assured Mods.)

 

Graphics and sound are, in a word, wonderful.  Raven has done a fantastic job bringing Star Wars to life, especially with the small touches like the familiar war room from A New Hope.  But they also get the big touches right too – it’s cool to see a bunch of docked AT-STs awaiting their drivers.  The lightning attack – if you go down the dark path – never gets old.  The familiar John Williams score fits for every occasion and the sound effects are dead-on.  The amalgam of the two provides an extremely well rounded experience.  I was a little disappointed that Raven opted to use in-game cutscenes and not full-motion video, but it didn’t take long to get used to.  Animation is also top-notch – Stormtroopers plunge off catwalks, crumple under a direct shot to the head, and even get knocked down to the ground only to leap to their feet, blaster still in hand.  The voice acting is up to the usual high standards of LucasArts and strangely enough the most groan-inducing lines aren’t delivered dripping in melodrama.  JKII also gives Star Wars freaks another word to add to their lexicon and roster of all-purpose swear words: “Sithspit”.

 

And besides all the above, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast is fun.  No matter how many times I died, either by my own misstep or some surprise awaiting my entry into a room, I kept on playing even when I was stumped on a puzzle or figuring out how to get out of room alive.  There’s much to do and nooks and crannies to explore.  It’s got everything that first-person shooter and Star Wars fans will love.  If you’ve got the chance, go and get it.  The Force is back!

 

- Omni

 

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