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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

LucasArts

 

Developer

Vicarious Visions / Raven Software

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q4 2002

 

 

- Stays true to the Star Wars myths while creating new ones
- Looks and sounds great
- Many hours of gameplay
- Enjoyable multiplayer
- New curse word: “Sithspit”
- Save anywhere feature

 

 

- Some puzzles slow down the pace of the game
- Takes a while to start firing on all pistons
- Control takes a while to learn

 

 

Review: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast (Gamecube)

Review: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords (PC)

Review: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (DS)

 

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Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast

Score: 8.9 / 10

 

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Not many games have been successful in both the console and PC world. Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast appeared on the PC about seven months before it appeared on the Xbox and for the most part it's an exact port. If you've got the PC version, there's no reason to plunk money down for the Xbox rendition. However, Xbox owners should be more than happy with the Star Wars found in Outcast.

Outcast 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 as he's 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 (in case you haven't played the original PC game). 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

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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.

Most elements of the story will be instantly recognizable but some aspects 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

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– I read Timothy Zahn’s three-book cycle – 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 gameplay really starts to pick up. Although the first two missions are designed very well and offer their own challenges it’s not until the 3rd mission that Outcast hits it’s stride. The part that did it for me was running down a canyon filled with Stormtroopers and an AT-ST while massive ion cannons fire from an overhead ridge and X-Wings and Tie-Fighters swooping overhead. 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. (Those experienced with the PC version will notice some minor level changes but there's nothing too drastic.)

Part of Outcast's 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 Outcasts'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.)

Weapon variety is as solid as ever, but once you have the elegant and powerful lightsaber 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, including Force Grip, Force Push, and the classic Force Lightning, that each have three upgrade levels.

 

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Translating the control scheme from the mouse and keyboard layout is pretty good but it takes getting used to -- even for those that haven't played the PC version. It has the familiar Halo movement scheme, but managing Force powers, inventory, etc. takes quite a bit to master. There is a definite learning curve so take my advice, adjust the default settings. The default turning speed is way, way too slow and activating Force powers by clicking the right thumbstick is a pain. The white and black buttons can be assigned to specific Force powers and this is a great way to streamline the control (and is not an option that will occur to you unless you read the manual).

Having a complete understanding of controls is absolutely necessary if you hope to dominate during multiplayer. There are a few different modes -- Free-For-All, Duel and Jedi Master, which really lets you show your proficiency with the Force -- and they’re all fun to varying degrees if you've got a friend handy but multiplayer certainly would have garnered more attention had it been Xbox Live compatible. As it is, the bots do provide a solid challenge.

Graphics and sound are, in a word, wonderful. Vicarious Visions has done a pretty good job porting the graphics from the PC version (with the occasional stutter), which really brought 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 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 with the scaled-down animation during the cutscenes but that's only because I played the higher-res PC version.

Animation is also top-notch – Stormtroopers plunge off catwalks and crumple under a direct shot to the head. 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. Outcast 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 a 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.

- Omni
(January 9, 2002)

 

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